“From his unwavering confidence to his refusal to quit, John Wayne is someone many folks hope to be like when the going gets tough—and that’s just based on the man they saw on the screen. At home, I’m proud to say, Duke was just as much of a role model, someone who seemed to have the knowhow for handling any situation. We’ll look at moments from John Wayne’s films as well as anecdotes from his personal life in order to glean timeless tips for overcoming life’s challenges. Hopefully, the next time you’re faced with a difficult scenario, you can simply ask yourself, ‘What would Duke do?’”
Going against the grain at your place of work can be tough, but John Wayne knew a thing or two about toughness.
While the typical image of John Wayne is a tirelessly working man seldom seen with a smile, the real Duke enjoyed finding the warm, fuzzy feelings of true comfort as much as the next person. And since he was always surrounded by fellow actors, directors, members of the press and adoring fans everywhere he went in Hollywood, John Wayne needed places he could go that would always guarantee a pleasant escape from it all. If you’re in need of such a place, follow the legend’s lead and you just might find exactly what you’ve been looking for.
CREATE DISTANCE FROM YOUR DAILY LIFE
If you try to “get away” for a while by going somewhere that’s too close to the place where you work and worry about bills, you might have a hard time distracting yourself from those stressors. When John Wayne purchased his 136-foot decommissioned Navy minesweeper known as the Wild Goose in 1962, the legend made it clear that he was looking for a reliable way to escape the Hollywood hustle and bustle. “A boat’s the only place I can relax and forget about my work,” Duke told the yacht’s captain Bert Minshall when the two first met, according to a biography. According to the icon’s daughter Marisa, who recalls spending many weekends, school vacations and summers on the Wild Goose, being able to forget about work inevitably helped her father set his persona aside: “That’s where he could really unwind and be himself with family and friends.”
Occasionally, John Wayne’s idea of unwinding meant making memories via stereotypical fatherly teasing. “Sometimes you’d be the object of a joke, but it was always an expression of affection,” Duke’s eldest son Patrick remembers. “Once when my youngest sister was on the Wild Goose, she had these decals, and my dad took one of them and stuck it on the side of the ship. He called her over and said, ‘Aissa, what is the meaning of this?’ pointing to the decal. She was totally innocent, saying, ‘I have no idea!’ He played this out for a while until she was almost in tears but then we all had a big laugh about it.” Whether he was cracking wise with his kids, kicking back with a book or just enjoying the feeling of the sunshine and splashing sea, the Wild Goose was John Wayne’s chance to be the true Duke. Once you find a place that lets you forget about the stressed and busy version of yourself, you might find your truest self shining through.
MAKE IT YOURSELF
In 1958, alongside his business partner Louis Johnson, John Wayne purchased 4,000 acres of land located just outside of Eagar, Arizona, called the Milky Way Ranch. After shifting initial plans and rechristening the property the 26 Bar Ranch, Duke and Johnson eventually grew their operation into the largest privately owned feedlot in the United States, with 85,000 head of cattle over a sprawling 50,000 acres. The rapid growth of the ranch—in addition to the fact that he was able to purchase it in the first place—was a clear manifestation of the fruits of the legend’s labor. The 26 Bar Ranch was a place John Wayne could go to feel great pride, and it was also a place he could go for a good time and a change of scenery. After long days on the ranch, Duke could often be found befriending the townspeople of Eagar at a local bar called the Table Top Tavern. There, he could be a genuine cowboy shooting the breeze with like-minded individuals without the hassle of lights, cameras and a crew trying to manufacture such a scene. If you build it, happiness will come.
SEEK COMFORT ABOVE ALL ELSE
Having traveled the world while making a great living, John Wayne was well aware of what his options were when it came to finding a place to call home. But despite all the fame he achieved and the money he made, Duke remained a man of simple taste who held tight to his familiar sources of comfort. So when the size of his family necessitated a new home, the star stuck to the same beloved place he had called home most of his life, Southern California. In 1963, John Wayne moved his family to a house in Newport Beach facing Balboa Island that Architectural Digest called “simple and unpretentious,” adding, “There is nothing to suggest that this is the private world of a superstar, the home of an American legend.” Duke didn’t need the glitzy decor or jaw-dropping architecture of the typical celebrity home: He just needed to be surrounded by his dogs and family in the comfort of the state where he made countless good memories. When you’re looking for your own happy place, don’t compromise when it comes to comfort—find somewhere you can sink into seamlessly with a wide smile on your face.
See the full range of life lessons and even an excerpt from The Official John Wayne Handy Book of Bushcraft in The Official John Wayne Collector’s Edition, Volume 45!