John Wayne

John Wayne’s cruelty at hands of his mother exposed – ‘I don’t give a damn about him’

JOHN WAYNE – who appears on screens this weekend in some classic films – suffered heartbreakingly cruel treatment from his mother, who once said she “didn’t give a damn” about her son, unearthed accounts show.

Today, Wayne’s role in the World War 2 film Flying Leathernecks returns to screens on TCM (The Classic Movie channel) from 1.15pm. The film tells the story of a brash officer leading a team of pilots in the South Pacific as they take on the enemy, but his leadership style is put to the test. The 1951 film was highly regarded particularly for its aerial stunts, with Howard Thompson, of the New York Times, noting: “As long as it stays in the air, Flying Leathernecks is an exciting thing to watch.”

Wayne’s career culminated in him collecting his cherished Academy Award in 1970, for his acting exploits in True Grit.

Across his time in Hollywood, Wayne’s reputation as a hardworking actor saw him star in 179 films and TV productions.

In fact, he was so influential that Wayne was honoured by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.

While his life on-screen appeared incredibly successful, away from the camera reports show he endured a testing relationship with his mother, Mary ‘Molly’ Alberta Brown.

In the 2014 book John Wayne: The Life and Legend, author Scott Eyman noted how frosty the mother and son’s relationship became across the years.

This, he noted, included an upbringing for Wayne that saw “Molly not have the temperament to jolly him along”.

According to the writer, Molly often showed her affection to Wayne’s younger brother Robert, even taking away the Hollywood star’s middle name and giving it to his new sibling.

This, it was noted, led to Wayne enjoying a much closer bond with his father Clyde Leonard Morrison.

The book detailed how one of Wayne’s neighbours thought of Molly as a “stern woman” who “you had to be real careful around”.

They added: “She could fly off the handle when you least expected it.”

Another interaction that displayed the tension between Wayne and his mother was discussed again in the book, this time when the Western legend paid for a round-the-trip for her and stepfather Sidney Preen.

Eyman wrote: “His relationship with his mother remained unrewarding.

“Every year he sent his mother and her second husband on a vacation.

“One year, it was an around-the-world, all-expenses-paid trip. When they got back, Wayne greeted them and wanted to hear all about it.”

Eyman detailed that while Wayne’s stepfather “raved” about the holiday, “thanking him profusely” his mother “just complained”.

He added: “Wayne’s response was a visible deflation.

“After he left the room, Mary St. John [Wayne’s confidante] asked Molly, ‘Don’t you think you could be a little nicer to him sometimes?’”

However, Wayne’s mom replied: “I don’t give a damn about him.”

In his final days, Wayne battled with stomach cancer and sadly passed away in 1979, at the age of 72.

Years before his death, Wayne coined the term The Big C in 1964, to describe cancer.

Due to his condition, Wayne had to have his left lung removed, as well as four ribs, and while he began his recovery well, he continued smoking and chewing tobacco.

“After he left the room, Mary St. John [Wayne’s confidante] asked Molly, ‘Don’t you think you could be a little nicer to him sometimes?’”

However, Wayne’s mom replied: “I don’t give a damn about him.”

In his final days, Wayne battled with stomach cancer and sadly passed away in 1979, at the age of 72.

Years before his death, Wayne coined the term The Big C in 1964, to describe cancer.

Due to his condition, Wayne had to have his left lung removed, as well as four ribs, and while he began his recovery well, he continued smoking and chewing tobacco.

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