John Wayne was an American actor who was best known for his leading roles during Hollywood’s Golden Age. He was born on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, as Marion Robert Morrison, to Clyde and Marion Morrison. During his teenage years, Wayne’s family moved to California where he continued his schooling and excelled in both academics and sports. After graduating high school, the future actor was accepted on a sports scholarship to the University of Southern California where he majored in pre-law. Unfortunately, due to an accident, Wayne lost his scholarship and left the university.
Wayne’s love for acting began when he was hired as an extra for B movies under the Fox Film Corporation. His first break arrived when director Raoul Walsh scouted him for the lead role of his film “The Big Trail” (1930). Although the movie was a commercial flop, it gave the actor his iconic stage name “John Wayne” and cemented his status as an emerging star. Almost a decade later, Wayne received his biggest breakthrough after snagging the role in John Ford’s “Stagecoach.” The film was a critical and commercial success and launched the actor into A-list stardom.
Over the following decades, Wayne continued to grace the screens as one of Hollywood’s most famous faces. He starred in 179 film and television productions and was a popular figure in Western films. Wayne was also credited with stunt and fisticuff techniques that are still in use today. For his work, the actor was awarded two Golden Globe Awards and one Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “True Grit” (1969). He was also awarded posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.
Unfortunately, Wayne had a long battle with lung and stomach cancer. After removing his left lung and several ribs, the actor made his final public appearance during the 1979 Academy Awards and died two months later. Despite his passing, Wayne remains to be a memorable yet controversial figure in cinematic history. His multiple marriages and high-profile affairs had led countless fans to wonder: was John Wayne gay? Let’s find out below.
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John Wayne’s Marriages And Affairs
When it came to romance, Wayne wasn’t any different from other leading men in Hollywood. Although he kept the details to himself, the actor was a notorious playboy and was married at least three times. Wayne was also known to have a “type” which mostly comprised of Latina women. Let’s take a quick look at the actor’s most notable relationships.
John Wayne and Josephine Saenz (1926-1945)
Wayne met his first wife Josephine Saenz at a beach party in Balboa, California. Saenz was of Spanish-American descent with her parents being born in Madrid, Spain. She was still a teenager when she met the young actor who was still going by his birth name, Marion Morrison. At the time, her family strongly opposed their relationship since she was a Catholic and he was a Presbyterian.
Fortunately, Wayne graduated from small-time roles which allowed him to improve his financial status. The couple eventually married on June 24, 1933, after seven years of courtship. They went on to have four children together: Michael Wayne (1934), Mary Antonia Morrison (1936), Patrick Wayne (1939), and Melinda Morrison (1940).
Sadly, as Wayne’s acting career grew bigger, their marriage started to deteriorate. The actor would spend long days away from his family and would engage in numerous affairs. While most of these affairs were never confirmed, Wayne’s chemistry with German actress Marlene Dietrich was difficult to deny. The pair starred in several films and allegedly brought their romance behind the scenes.
During this time, Wayne was also linked to another one of his co-stars, Merle Oberon. The pair would have an on-and-off relationship that lasted for several years. Oberon herself was married to another man, Alexander Korda.
The strains on their marriage were too heavy for Saenz to bear, so the couple decided to divorce in 1945. Saenz would outlive her first husband by three decades, passing away at the age of 95 due to cancer.
John Wayne and Esperanza Baur (1945-1954)
During his marriage to his first wife, Wayne met his second wife, Esperanza Baur, while on vacation in Mexico City. Baur, who was nicknamed “Chata,” was a Mexican actress who appeared in many Spanish films. Fresh off his divorce from Saenz, Wayne married Baur on January 17, 1946. Unfortunately, the marriage was doomed from the start.
According to reports, Wayne didn’t change his philandering ways and Baur was extremely jealous of his career and children. She accused him of having an affair with one of his on-screen partners, Gail Russell. On the other hand, Wayne suspected his wife of having an illicit relationship with hotel heir, Nicky Hilton. Their fights were so violent that apparently, one time when Wayne arrived home drunk, Baur greeted him with a gun and almost shot him.
The pair eventually separated in May 1952 and settled their divorce two years later. The proceedings were made public and there were tons of countercharges including drunken violence, emotional abuse, and adultery. The ex-couple didn’t have any children and Baur later died in 1961 due to a heart attack.
John Wayne and Pilar Pallete (1953-1979)
Wayne met his third wife, Pilar Pallete, while he was still married to Baur. At the time, she was also married to another man, Richard Weldy. Palette was also the daughter of a Peruvian senator and was two decades younger than the actor. The pair reportedly met when Wayne was scouting locations for one of his films.
Wayne and Pallete met again the following year in Los Angeles. They divorced their partners and tied the knot in Kona, Hawaii, all within the same year. The couple also had three children together: Aissa Wayne, John Ethan Wayne, and Marisa Wayne. Right after their wedding, Pallete became a full-time mother and would accompany Wayne during his film shootings.
Although the couple stayed together on paper, Pallete actually moved out of their shared home in 1973. After the actor’s death, she remarried twice and is still together with her third husband, Jesse Upchurch.
Was John Wayne Gay?
No, John Wayne wasn’t gay. The actor was married three times and had numerous affairs with women. Wayne was also known for having conservative views, so people can assume that he identified as a heterosexual.