You're 100, pilgrim: John Wayne celebrated as actor and patriot on anniversary of his birth





On the 100th anniversary of John Wayne's birth, the Duke still swaggers through the American psyche as not just an actor, but a patriot his centennial spawning fond remembrance, and perhaps a few small protests on the side.

Wayne's legacy is unique because of the dual perspectives that pervade his memory. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Garry Wills, who wrote "John Wayne's America" in 1997, described Wayne as "the most popular movie star ever, but also the most polarizing."

It could be argued that no other film actor has ever come to symbolize so many things: rugged masculinity, the frontier, even America itself. The Duke has remained, in the truest sense, an icon.

For many, an entire way of life is epitomized in the tired, unblinking eyes that peered knowingly from his cocksure pose ("walks around like a big cat," said Howard Hawks). His voice, too, seems etched in the collective memory: With a simple "pilgrim," a whole lost world is summoned.


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