cover image John Wayne: The Life and Legend

John Wayne: The Life and Legend

Scott Eyman. Simon & Schuster, $32.50 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4391-9958-9

Still larger than life years after his death, John Wayne elevated the western to a new level and created a legendary screen persona defined by honesty, courage, and character. Drawing deeply on interviews with family and friends, acclaimed biographer Eyman (Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford) colorfully chronicles Wayne’s life and work from his birth in Winterset, Iowa—where Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in 1907—and his childhood and youth in Glendale, Calif., to his college days at USC, where he was a football standout until an injury sidelined him, and his slow rise to stardom, his marriages, and his enduring screen presence. According to Eyman, Wayne’s role in Ford’s Stagecoach launched his career, for though he had already appeared in 80 movies, Wayne “leaps off the screen” and Ford is telling us that “this man warrants our attention in a way that transcends the immediate narrative of the movie.” In this compulsively readable biography, Eyman examines closely Wayne’s major films, from The Searchers and The Shootist to Sands of Iwo Jima and True Grit to depict the actor who “came to symbolize the American man throughout the world, whether he was wearing a soldier suit or a cowboy hat.” (Apr.)