The younger generation probably does not know him today, but John Wayne was a huge star during the 1930s to 1950s. His name is considered an icon in the film industry because he was also a successful director and producer. He may be comparable to Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, and Sylvester Stallone who directed and starred in their own films. But John Wayne was an even bigger name in the industry at that time because not that many actors are able to do what he did – to become an actor, director and producer at the same time.
Although he portrayed many gentleman, cowboy, and war fighting tough roles, there were also many dumb controversies surrounding his sexuality. The million dollar question was at one point – is John Wayne gay? I personally strongly protest this idea. But the reason why many people probably speculated this was because he had worked with many openly homosexual people in the industry, including Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson, in which Wayne became very close. It is indeed very unusual for a straight man to become close with homosexual actors some would say, but I consider that to be a ludicrous statement. Really?!
The controversy must of really sparked shortly after his agreement to be part of a movie ‘Red River’, which was one of the first movies produced that was suggestive of a homosexual theme. It has been dubbed as the “gay cowboy movie” by many critics but Clift received an Academy Award nomination in his role. ‘The Search’ was another movie that had a homosexual undertone. But if anything, this only proves one thing: the character of John Wayne we all fell in love with – open minded and respectful of all.
Despite these controversies, John Wayne remained to be a respected person even outside of the film industry. He was so influential that he was cajoled into politics but refused because he thought people would not take actors in politics seriously. But he never shied away from politics and supported many politicians including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.