1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


The Duke
Herman King 09

The Duke, as John Wayne's friends called him, rode off into the sunset on June 11, 1979...my 50th birthday. He was without doubt the greatest western actor of them all. Hollywood denied him an Oscar until True Grit. This was at least in part payback for being a leader against the attempted take over of Hollywood by the Communist Party. Despite the liberals crying "blacklist" and their annual observance of the alleged discriminatory event, the communist infiltration of Hollywood was a real occurrence. And talking about blacklisting, actors who rebelled against doing what they thought to be anti-American scripts soon found it hard to get work. Robert Taylor blamed his lack of recognition for the mediocre scripts he had to do. Some actors who stood solidly against the commie takeover were Olivia de Havilland  (not the wimpy woman she played in "Gone With The Wind.)" John Wayne and later Ronald Reagan. The Duke was proud of his role in outing Dalton Trumbo, script writer for the Oscar-winning "High Noon." Wayne detested the movie for showing members of a western town as a bunch of cowards, who refused to back their outgoing law officer (played by Gary Cooper). In real history, of course, no such thing could really happen. The pioneers who settled western America were a hardy lot who could take care of themselves. Who stopped and effectively destroyed the James and Younger Brothers? The citizens of Northfield, Minnesota. Who ended the Dalton gang? The citizens of Coffeyville, Kansas. Townspeople needed no super hero. But one lone man pitted against overwhelming odds makes for a good story. And Hollywood plus TV Land took that ball and ran with it. Left-wing Hollywood took delight in depicting American businessmen as grubby profit chasers and ordinary American people as spineless cowards. No wonder the Duke wouldn't apologize for kicking commie butt.

Harry Carey Jr. said--after the Duke's Oscar for True Grit-- that he should also have won Oscars for SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and THE SEARCHERS. I would add NORTH TO ALASKA and McCLINTOCK to the list. The liberal New Republic disparaged Wayne for being exempt from the war who compensated by playing heroic roles on the screen. But Wayne has become an icon to right-thinking Americans (pun intended). But who remembers Dalton Trumbo? Actually, while "black-listed" he continued to earn big bucks writing under pseudonyms. He was a great screenwriter ( Papillion, Spartacus, Lonely Are The Brave are among his achievements). Too bad he bit the hand that fed him.