John Wayne's Family Values

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In honor of the release of The Official John Wayne Collector's Edition, Vol. 28: Duke's Code for Life on April 2, we're offering a sneak peek at an exclusive article excerpt from the forthcoming issue. Read about Duke's family values and explore all his wisdom in Volume 28, available everywhere Tuesday.


John Wayne and his children at the rodeo


Featured in The Official John Wayne Collector's Edition, Vol. 28


Striking a balance between work and family is one of the toughest challenges life tosses our way. Putting in the hours equates to providing for your spouse and children financially, but anyone can easily end up like the father in Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle" if they're not careful. Despite being a tireless cinema star, however, John Wayne mastered the art of making time for his family.


While it was taxing on his time, being a major movie star gave Duke unique opportunities for bonding with his loved ones. Early in his career, he would take his children Antonia, Patrick, Melinda and Michael on film sets, including those in far-flung locations like the Ireland of The Quiet Man (1952), exposing them to the business from a young age. And when he met the love of his life, actress Pilar Pallete, on a trip to Tingo Maria in 1952, John Wayne made the most of his filming obligations by turning them into romantic excursions. The legend married Pilar in Hawaii, on November 1, 1954, while filming The Sea Chase. It was an ingenious juggling of work and personal life—when Duke finished his nuptials, he didn't have to travel to resume shooting. More importantly, he was able to devote plenty of time between takes to his new bride as the two enjoyed the island paradise. For years to come, Hawaii would continue to serve as the perfect getaway for John Wayne, Pilar and their children.


John Wayne and children on Wild Goose boat


When it came to fatherhood, Duke was as devoted a dad as a kid could ask for. His daughter Melinda was his frequent chess opponent, while his youngest daughter, Marisa, recalls being picked up from school by her father and treated to popcorn or ice cream. The icon's youngest son, Ethan, grew up tagging along to the likes of Mexico, Colorado and Arizona whenever his famous father was off to shoot a film. According to Ethan, John Wayne was clear about his reasons for bringing the boy with him as much as possible: "He said: 'Boys leave when they're teenagers. They don't come back until they're in their 30s. And I won't be there for Ethan when he comes back, so I'm gonna take him with me now."


Later in his career, John Wayne would find ways to weld work and family. The 1963 film McLintock! was a Wayne family affair with Duke's children Aissa and Patrick acting in the film while his son Michael worked as a producer. It was one of the many times the star would get to share a set with those he held dearest. But whether it was convenient or not, John Wayne always put family first.


John Wayne with sons on set