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Facts We Just Learned About John Wayne That Made Us Say 'Whoa'

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Vote up the facts you never knew about Hollywood's classic cowboy.

John Wayne appeared in nearly 200 films in his long career - most of them westerns. No method actor, Wayne was a screen persona, an idealized specimen of machismo. As he once told fellow actor Michael Caine, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much." 

As is to be expected of stars from decades past, many of Wayne's opinions and decisions were un-PC. When you dive into the following John Wayne facts, some of them may surprise you. The actor spoke his mind, and he didn't care to apologize for it. Vote up the most interesting facts about John Wayne, and see which ones rise to the top.

  • 1
    1,326 VOTES

    Joseph Stalin Tried To Assassinate Him

    From Redditor u/hugecatfish:

    TIL Joseph Stalin tried to have John Wayne assassinated.

    Context: According to John Wayne biographer Michael Munn, Stalin was angered by Wayne's anti-communist stance and dispatched two Russian hit men to take him out in 1951. Apparently, the FBI was aware of the plot and captured the men before they could fulfill their task. Munn further claims that Stalin's successor, Nikita Khruschev, told Wayne he rescinded the execution order during a private meeting between the two in 1958. 

  • 2
    1,047 VOTES

    He Told Michael Caine To Never Wear Suede Shoes

    From Redditor u/scotty76:

    TIL John Wayne once advised Michael Caine never to wear suede shoes because someone could p*ss all over them.

    Context: This is why context is important, because without it this sounds like nonsense. In his memoir, Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, Caine says Wayne told him, "You're going to be a star, kid. But let me give you some advice. Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much.' And he looked down at my shoes, and I was wearing suede shoes, and he said, 'And never wear suede shoes.' I said, 'Why not?' He said, 'Because I just told you, you're going to be famous. And you're going to be taking a pee in the gent's toilet and the man next to you is going to recognize you, and turn, and he's going to pee all over your shoes, so don't wear suede shoes.'"

  • 3
    823 VOTES

    He Smoked Several Packs Of Cigarettes A Day

    From Redditor u/Chillykitten42:

    TIL that American national treasure John Wayne managed to smoke an astonishing seven packs of cigarettes a day. This ultimately required the removal of his left lung, due to a baseball-sized tumor.

    Context: Depending on the source you're reading, Wayne smoked anywhere from five to even seven packs of cigarettes a day (CBS goes with six). The habit affected the actor's health later in life, and following a cancer diagnosis, he had most of an entire lung removed. He would later pass due to stomach cancer.

  • 4
    999 VOTES

    The Actor Wore A Toupee - And Wasn't Shy About It

    From a Redditor:

    TIL John Wayne wore a toupee beginning in about 1948. Wayne felt more confident wearing his toupee and never denied it. He often joked saying, "It's not phony, it's real hair. Of course, it's not mine, but it's real."

    Context: His wigs have even gone up for auction.