John Wayne Quotes

1. Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.

2. Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway.

3. Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.

4. If you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.

5. If everything isn't black and white, I say: "Why the hell not?"

6. Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much.

7. Get off your butt and join the Marines!

8. I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

9. Get off your horse and drink your milk.

10. In the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself - but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man's responsibilities, he finds that it can't work out that way - that some people just won't carry their load…I believe in welfare - a welfare work program. I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I'd like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can't understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.

11. I believe in white supremacy, until blacks are educated to the point of responsibility.

12. A man deserves a second chance, but keep an eye on him.

13. I've always followed my father's advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.

14. I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.

15. My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for.

16. All battles are fought by scared men who'd rather be some place else.

17. A man's got to do what a man's got to do.

18. Thanking people is dangerous business. A name always slips your mind.

19. (at Harvard in 1974, on being asked whether then-President Richard Nixon ever advised him on the making of his films) No, they've all been successful.

20. (on presenting the Best Picture Oscar in 1979) Oscar and I have something in common. Oscar first came to the Hollywood scene in 1928. So did I. We're both a little weatherbeaten, but we're still here and plan to be around for a whole lot longer.

21. When people say a John Wayne picture got bad reviews, I always wonder if they know it's a redundant sentence, but hell, I don't care. People like my pictures and that's all that counts.

22. (When asked if he believed in God) There must be some higher power or how else does all this stuff work?

23. (Time Magazine interview, 1969) I would like to be remembered, well…the Mexicans have a phrase, "Feo fuerte y formal". Which means he was ugly, strong and had dignity.

24. (upon accepting his Oscar for True Grit 1969) If I'd known this was all it would take, I'd have put that eyepatch on 40 years ago.

25. I'm an American actor. I work with my clothes on. I have to. Riding a horse can be pretty tough on your legs and elsewheres.

26. When I started, I knew I was no actor and I went to work on this Wayne thing. It was as deliberate a projection as you'll ever see. I figured I needed a gimmick, so I dreamed up the drawl, the squint and a way of moving meant to suggest that I wasn't looking for trouble but would just as soon throw a bottle at your head as not. I practiced in front of a mirror.

27. Communism is quite obviously still a threat. Yes, they are human beings, with a right to their point of view…

28. (on being asked about his "phony hair" at Harvard in 1974) It's not phony. It's real hair. Of course, it's not mine, but it's real.

29. I never had a goddamn artistic problem in my life, never, and I've worked with the best of them. John Ford isn't exactly a bum, is he? Yet he never gave me any manure about art. He just made movies and that's what I do.

30. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of friendship, comradeship, and brotherhood…DeMolay will always hold a deep spot in my heart.

31. (on the Oscars) You can't eat awards - nor, more to the point, drink 'em.

32. I made up my mind that I was going to play a real man to the best of my ability. I felt many of the western stars of the twenties and thirties were too goddamn perfect. They never drank or smoked. They never wanted to go to bed with a beautiful girl. They never had a fight. A heavy might throw a chair at them, and they just looked surprised and didn't fight in this spirit. They were too goddamn sweet and pure to be dirty fighters. Well, I wanted to be a dirty fighter if that was the only way to fight back. If someone throws a chair at you, hell, you pick up a chair and belt him right back. I was trying to play a man who gets dirty, who sweats sometimes, who enjoys kissing a gal he likes, who gets angry, who fights clean whenever possible but will fight dirty if he has to. You could say I made the western hero a roughneck.

33. I am a demonstrative man, a baby picker-upper, a hugger and a kisser - that's my nature.

34. I do not want the government to take away my human dignity and insure me anything more than a normal security. I don't want handouts.

35. I don't want ever to appear in a film that would embarrass a viewer. A man can take his wife, mother, and his daughter to one of my movies and never be ashamed or embarrassed for going.

36. I am an old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, flag-waving patriot.

37. You can't whine and bellyache because somebody else got a good break and you didn't.

38. I think that the loud roar of irresponsible liberalism… is being quieted down by a reasoning public. I think the pendulum is swinging back. We're remembering that the past can't be so bad. We built a nation on it. We have to look to tomorrow.

39. High Noon (1952) was the most un-American thing I have ever seen in my whole life. The last thing in the picture is ol' Coop (Gary Cooper) putting the United States marshal's badge under his foot and stepping on it. I'll never regret having run (screenwriter Carl Foreman) out of this country.

40. God, how I hate solemn funerals. When I die, take me into a room and burn me. Then my family and a few good friends should get together, have a few good belts, and talk about the crazy old time we all had together.

41. Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I'm not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be. I was proud when President Nixon (Richard Nixon) ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor, which we should have done long ago, because I think we're helping a brave little country defend herself against Communist invasion. That's what I tried to show in The Green Berets (1968) and I took plenty of abuse from the critics. Did you ever see reviews like that? Reviews with hatred and nastiness.

42. (On his separation from third wife Pilar Wayne in 1973) We have separated, and it's a sad incident in my life. It is family and personal. I'd rather keep it that way.

43. The West - the very words go straight to that place of the heart where Americans feel the spirit of pride in their western heritage - the triumph of personal courage over any obstacle, whether nature or man.

44. (on Frank Capra) I'd like to take that little Dago son of a bitch and tear him into a million pieces and throw him into the ocean and watch him float back to Sicily where he belongs.

45. I don't think John Ford had any kind of respect for me as an actor until I made Red River (1948) for Howard Hawks. I was never quite sure what he did think of me as an actor. I know now, though. Because when I finally won an Oscar for my role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969), Ford shook my hand and said the award was long overdue me as far as he was concerned. Right then, I knew he'd respected me as an actor since Stagecoach (1939), even though he hadn't let me know it. He later told me his praise earlier, might have gone to my head and made me conceited, and that was why he'd never said anything to me, until the right time.

46. (December 1973) They're trying to crucify Nixon (Richard Nixon), but when they're writing the history of this period, Watergate will be no more than a footnote. Believe me, I have a high respect for the bulldogged way in which our President has been able to continue to administrate this government, in spite of the articulate liberal press - whose only purpose is to sell toilet paper and Toyotas - and in spite of the ambitious politicians who would deny him the help and encouragement that a man needs to face the problems of this country. I endorsed Spiro Agnew's attitudes, but I knew nothing of his private affairs. I was sadly disappointed to discover his feet of clay.

47. (On The Conqueror (1956)) The way the screenplay reads, this is a cowboy picture, and that's how I am going to play Genghis Khan. I see him as a gunfighter.

48. Just think of it. At the Alamo there was a band of only 185 men of many nationalities and religions, all joined in a common cause for freedom. Those 185 men killed 1000 of Santa Anna's men before they died. But they knew they spent their lives for the precious time Sam Houston needed.

49. (1971) Get a checkup. Talk someone you like into getting a checkup. Nag someone you love into getting a checkup. And while you're at it, send a check to the American Cancer Society. It's great to be alive.

50. (on why he never wrote an autobiography) Those who like me already know me, and those who don't like me wouldn't want to read about me anyway.

51. Have you ever heard of some fellows who first came over to this country? You know what they found? They found a howling wilderness, with summers too hot and winters freezing, and they also found some unpleasant little characters who painted their faces. Do you think these pioneers filled out form number X6277 and sent in a report saying the Indians were a little unreasonable? Did they have insurance for their old age, for their crops, for their homes? They did not! They looked at the land, and the forest, and the rivers. They looked at their wives, their kids and their houses, and then they looked up at the sky and they said: "Thanks, God, we'll take it from here."

52. (1966) I drink for comradeship, and when I drink for comradeship, I don't bother to keep count.

53. It's kind of a sad thing when a normal love of country makes you a super patriot. I do think we have a pretty wonderful country, and I thank God that He chose me to live here.

54. I wrote to the head man at General Motors and said: "I'm gonna have to desert you if you don't stop making cars for women."

55. Not that I had thoughts of becoming a song and dance man, but, like most young actors, I did want to play a variety of roles. I remember walking down the street one day, mumbling to myself about the way my career was going, when suddenly I bumped into Will Rogers. "What's the matter, Duke?" he asked, and I said things weren't going so well. "You working?" he asked, and I said: "Yep." "Keep working, Duke," he said and smiled and walked away.

56. Look, I'm sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in out country can't be blamed on us today.

57. (1979) I've known Jane Fonda since she was a little girl. I've never agreed with a word she's said, but would give my life defending her right to say it.

58. (on Jet Pilot 1957) It is undoubtedly one of my worst movies ever.

59. (1973) I've been allowed a few more years - I hope. My lung capacity is naturally limited now, but I had a pretty good set before the disease hit me, so it isn't too noticeable in my everyday life.

60. (After failing to win the Best Actor Oscar for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)) The best way to survive an Oscar is to never try to win another one. You've seen what happens to some Oscar winners. They spend the rest of their lives turning down scripts while searching for the great role to win another one. Hell, I hope I'm never even nominated again. It's meat-and-potato roles for me from now on.

61. There's been a lot of stories about how I got to be called Duke. One was that I played the part of a duke in a school play - which I never did. Sometimes, they even said I was descended from royalty! It was all a lot of rubbish. Hell, the truth is that I was named after a dog!

62. I read someplace that I used to make B-pictures. Hell, they were a lot farther down the alphabet than that…but not as far down as R and X. I think any man who makes an X-rated picture ought to be made to take his own daughter to see it.

63. Screw ambiguity. Perversion and corruption masquerade as ambiguity. I don't trust ambiguity.

64. (his speech at The 42nd Annual Academy Awards 1970 TV) Wow! Ladies and gentlemen, I'm no stranger to this podium. I've come up here and picked up these beautiful golden men before, but always for friends. One night I picked up two: one for Admiral John Ford and one for our beloved Gary Cooper. I was very clever and witty that night - the envy of, even, Bob Hope. But tonight I don't feel very clever, very witty. I feel very grateful, very humble, and I owe thanks to many, many people. I want to thank the members of the Academy. To all you people who are watching on television, thank you for taking such warm interest in our glorious industry. Good night.

65. (on television) I don't know if I love it or hate it, but there sure has never been any form of entertainment so…so…available to the human race with so little effort since they invented marital sex.

66. Westerns are closer to art than anything else in the motion picture business.

67. (6/78) I'm a greedy old man. Life's been good to me, and I want some more of it.

68. That little clique back there in the East has taken great personal satisfaction reviewing my politics instead of my pictures. But one day those doctrinaire liberals will wake up to find the pendulum has swung the other way.

69. (1973) My build-up was done through constant exposure. By the time I went overseas to visit our boys during the Second World War, they had already seen my movies when they were back home. Now their kids are grown up and their kids are seeing my movies. I'm part of the family… I think Steve McQueen and Robert Redford have a chance of becoming lasting stars. And certainly that big kid - what the hell's his name? Jesus, I have such a hard time remembering my own name sometimes. Oh, you know the one I mean, that big kid, the one that's been directing some of his own movies lately. Yeah, that's the one - Clint Eastwood!

70. The Green Berets (1968) made $7,000,000 in the first three months of its release. This so-called intellectual group aren't in touch with the American people, regardless of (J. William Fulbright's) blatting, and Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern and Ted Kennedy. In spite of them the American people do not feel that way. Instead of taking a census, they ought to count the tickets that were sold to that picture.

71. John Ford was like a father to me, like a big brother. I got word that he wanted to see me at his home in Palm Springs, and when I got there, he said: "Hi Duke, down for the deathwatch?" "Hell no:" I said, "you'll bury us all." But he looked so weak. We used to be a triumvirate - Ford and me and a guy named Ward Bond. The day I went to Palm Springs, Ford said: "Duke, do you ever think of Ward?" "All the tim:" I said. "Well, let's have a drink to Ward," he said. So I got out the brandy, gave him a sip and took one for myself. "All right, Duke," he said finally: "I think I'll rest for a while." I went home, and that was Pappy Ford's last day.

72. In spite of the fact that Rooster Cogburn would shoot a fella between the eyes, he'd judge that fella before he did it. He was merely trying to make the area in which he was marshal livable for the most number of people.

73. (on the studios' blacklisting of alleged "subversives" in Hollywood) If it is for the FBI, I will do anything for them. If they want me to I will even be photographed with an agent and point out a Communist for them. Tell Mr. Hoover (FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover) I am on his side.

74. Watergate is a sad and tragic incident in our history. They were wrong, dead wrong, those men at Watergate. Men abused power, but the system still works. Men abused money, but the system still works. Men lied and perjured themselves, but the system still works.

75. A man's got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.

76. I play John Wayne in every picture regardless of the character, and I've been doing all right, haven't I?

77. Television has a tendency to reach a little. In their westerns, they are getting away from the simplicity and the fact that those men were fighting the elements and the rawness of nature and didn't have time for this couch-work.

78. My problem is that I'm not a handsome man like Cary Grant, who will be handsome at 65. I may be able to do a few more man-woman things before it's too late, but then what? I never want to play silly old men chasing young girls, as some of the stars are doing. I have to be a director - I've waited all these years to be one. The Alamo (1960) will tell what my future is.

79. I think those blacklisted people should have been sent over to Russia. They'd have been taken care of over there, and if the Commies ever won over here, why hell, those guys would be the first ones they'd take care of - after me.

80. (on his third wife Pilar Wayne) I can tell you why I love her. I have a lust for her dignity. I look at her wonderfully classic face, and I see hidden in it a sense of humor that I love. I think of wonderful, exciting, decent things when I look at her.

81. I said there was a tall, lanky kid that led 150 airplanes across Berlin. He was an actor, but that day, I said, he was a colonel. Colonel Jimmy Stewart (James Stewart). So I said: "What is all this crap about Reagan (Ronald Reagan) being an actor?"

82. I'm not preaching a sermon from the mount, you know. This is just my own opinion. But it does seem to me that when our industry got vulgar and cheap, we began losing our regular customers. Sure, people are curious, and they'll go see any provocative thing once - maybe even four or five times - but eventually they'll just stay home and watch television. There used to be this little Frenchman in Hollywood who made all these risqué movies…what the hell was his name?…Lubitsch (Ernst Lubitsch, who was actually German)! He could make pictures as risqué as anything you'll see today, but he made them with taste and illusion. The only sadness in my heart for our business is that we are taking all the illusion out of it. After all, it's pretty hard to take your daughter to see Deep Throat (1972).

83. Paul Newman would have been a much more important star if he hadn't always tried to be an anti-hero, to show the human feet of clay.

84. (1962) I'm a progressive thinker, even though I'm not in the liberal strain.

85. Don't ever for a minute make the mistake of looking down your nose at westerns. They're art - the good ones, I mean. They deal in life and sudden death and primitive struggle, and with the basic emotions - love, hate, and anger - thrown in. We'll have westerns films as long as the cameras keep turning. The fascination that the Old West has will never die. And as long as people want to pay money to see me act, I'll keep on making westerns until the day I die.

86. You know, I hear everybody talking about the generation gap. Frankly, sometimes I don't know what they're talking about. Heck, by now I should know a little bit about it, if I'm ever going to. I have seven kids and 18 grandkids and I don't seem to have any trouble talking to any of them. Never have had, and I don't intend to start now.

87. I stick to simple themes. Love. Hate. No nuances. I stay away from psychoanalyst's couch scenes. Couches are good for one thing.

88. (on Cahill U.S. Marshal 1973) It just wasn't a well done picture. It needed better writing, it needed a little better care in making.

89. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.

90. That Redford (Robert Redford) fellow is good. Brando (Marlon Brando). Ah, Patton (1970) - George C. Scott. But the best of the bunch is Garner - James Garner. He can play anything. Comedy westerns, drama - you name it. Yeah, I have to say Garner is the best around today. He doesn't have to say anything - just make a face and you crack up.

91. Contrary to what people think, I'm no politician, and when I have something to say I say it through my movies.

92. (asked whether the Native American Indians should be allowed to camp on their land at Alcatraz) Well, I don't know of anybody else who wants it. The fellas who were taken off it sure don't want to go back there, including the guards. So as far as I am concerned, I think we ought to make a deal with the Indians. They should pay as much for Alcatraz as we paid them for Manhattan. I hope they haven't been careless with their wampum.

93. (on Superman 1978 star Christopher Reeve after meeting him at the 1979 Academy Awards) This is our new man. He's taking over.

94. (12/29/64) I've had lung cancer, the big C. But I've beaten the son of a bitch. Maybe I can give some poor bastard a little hope by being honest. I want people to know cancer can be licked. My advisers all told me that the public doesn't want its movie heroes associated with serious illness like cancer, that it destroys their image. Well, I don't care much about images, and, anyway, I would have thought there was a lot better image in the fact that John Wayne had cancer and licked it.

What do you think of John Wayne's quotes?

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