John Wayne made a speech at the 1975 Oscars that detailed what makes an actor’s feelings for a director transition from hate to love. His speech certainly seeks to relate to the actors in the room, but it’s also a great testament to the power of a talented director. Wayne made an impactful speech at the 1975 Oscars in honor of Howard Hawks’ Honorary Award.
Shirley MacLaine delivers a thoughtful, yet funny introduction for John Wayne
Shirley MacLaine took the stage at the 1975 Oscars to introduce Wayne to the stage, as shown on the Oscars YouTube channel. It’s a marvelous introduction for the actor, but it also reflects on the ever-evolving influence that actors have on audiences around the world.
“Ever since parents began depositing their children at the Saturday matinee while they went shopping, movie stars have been influential babysitters,” MacLaine said. “On the way home, all the little boys wanted to be Douglas Fairbanks, all the little girls wanted to be Mary Pickford. Or Tom Mix and Lillian Gish.”
MacLaine continued: “After the movies began to talk, every little boy wanted to be Gary Cooper and all the girls, Clara Bow. Or William Powell and Myrna Loy. A few years later, boys wanted to be Clark Gable and the girls, Jean Harlow. Then, the boys wanted to be John Wayne and the girls, Betty Grable. Then, the boys wanted to be John Wayne and the girls, Marilyn Monroe.”
The actor concluded: “Then, the boys wanted to be John Wayne and the girls, Grace Kelly. Finally, things changed a little. The boys still want to be John Wayne, but the girls want to be John Wayne, too.”
MacLaine finished the introduction with a laugh and got a bunch of laughs from the crowd.
John Wayne revealed what makes an actor’s hate for a director turn to love in an Honorary Award speech to Howard Hawks
Wayne walked onto the stage at the 1975 Oscars to give his speech. He collaborated with Hawks on a few movies, making him an excellent choice to speak on the director before bringing him onto the stage.
“I’m here to give an Honorary award to a motion picture director,” Wayne said. “Now, actors hate directors. They hate them because when actors have given their everything, directors want more. Boy, how they hate that.”
Wayne continued: “But, when they see themselves up there and scratch the old black-and-white, I go back that far, our glorious Technicolor in 20 feet high better than they ever thought they could be, doing things that they never though they could do, they don’t hate the director anymore. They love it. That’s how I feel about this man, Howard Hawks.”
Wayne recognized at the 1975 Oscars that there was a special connection between the two men. Further, he talked about some of the filmmaker’s biggest titles and how he deserved to get this Honorary Award.
“If you think there’s anything between us, there certainly is,” Wayne said. “Four pictures: Red River, Rio Bravo, Hatari, and El Dorado. I don’t think they’re only reason the Academy Board of Governors voted him an Honorary Award.”
Wayne rattled off a collection of Hawks’ films, including The Dawn Patrol, Scarface, Bringing Up Baby, Sergeant York, The Crowd Roars, Viva Villa!, His Girl Friday, To Have and Have Not, I Was a Male War Bride, and The Big Sleep.
Wayne concluded: “Now, he’s made a lot of actors jump so it’s time we made him do the same. Tonight, he’s not the director – I am. Hawks, we’re ready to roll! Get your skinny whatchamacallit out here!”
The actor made his final appearance at the 1979 Oscars
Wayne made several appearances at the Academy Awards, even when he wasn’t nominated himself. He enjoyed having the opportunity to see his fellow industry friends, celebrating the prior year’s films, and thanking moviegoing audiences who make the industry possible. However, Wayne had the extraordinary opportunity to present a friend with an Honorary Award at the 1975 Oscars.
The Western actor received two honors through nominations, but he wouldn’t have his own big win until the 1970 Oscars. Wayne finally earned the Oscar for best actor for his career-defining performance in True Grit. However, his final public appearance would be at the 1979 Oscars, where he delivered yet another impactful speech.