John Wayne

Not too far off the highway is the birthplace of John Wayne in Winterset, Iowa.  I drove over there to look.  They said it was a modest house and that was true.  You can see by the picture that it is not much bigger than one of these little cabins you can rent at the campgrounds.  I didn’t figure it was worth it to take the tour.  John Wayne was not famous for his deeds in Winterset, Iowa.

I was talking to Jerry & Dorothy about John Wayne.  Jerry & I like him better than Dorothy.   Dorothy pointed out that John Wayne wasn’t much of an actor.  In fact, he was not an actor; he was a movie star.  The two are not the same.  A movie star needs to create and maintain a personal brand.  So no matter where you see John Wayne, you can recognize the character.  His persona transferred well in westerns and war movies.   When he tried to play Genghis Khan in “The Conqueror” it didn’t work at all.  That is why the movie is one of the ten worst of all time.

An actor can play many roles and blend into them.  This is very good for the craft of acting, but not so good for fame and fortune.  They have a name for such people.  They call them character actors.  When they die, the newspapers often call them “beloved” and when you see their picture you say, “Oh yeah, that guy.”  But you would not have been able to name him unaided.  And more than a quarter century after they die, they still won’t be famous – actually iconic – like John Wayne.