John Wayne’s quotes are as legendary as the man – who started out as an extra in movies and eventually became one of the most renowned western actors in history!
Nicknamed as the “The Duke,” the American actor and filmmaker was one of the top box office drawers for thirty remarkable years. He starred in nearly 200 movies and television productions – mostly westerns and action films. Of course, Wayne’s talent has been highly recognized, taking home many awards including an Oscar and Golden Globe Award for his role in the 1969 film True Grit.
John Wayne has achieved all of these in a career that spanned from the silent era of the 1920s all the way through the Hollywood Renaissance in the early 1980s. So, let’s celebrate all the contributions “The Duke” has made by looking back at some of his most cherished and treasured quotes and thoughts.
Here are 35 legendary John Wayne quotes:
1. All the screen cowboys behaved like real gentlemen. They didn’t drink, they didn’t smoke. When they knocked the bad guy down, they always stood with their fists up, waiting for the heavy to get back on his feet. I decided I was going to drag the bad guy to his feet and keep hitting him.
2. Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.
3. Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much.
4. Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.
5. Nothing is so discouraging to an actor than to have to work for long hours upon hours in brightly lighted interior sets.
6. Real art is basic emotion. If a scene is handled with simplicity – and I don’t mean simple – it’ll be good, and the public will know it.
7. I suppose my best attribute, if you want to call it that, is sincerity. I can sell sincerity because that’s the way I am.
8. 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.
9. Everybody that I was in school with had an uncle or father in the law, and I started to realize that I was going to end up writing briefs for about ten years for these fellows who I thought I was smarter than. And I was kind of losing my feeling for that.
10. I was ashamed to admit I was hipped to the idea of acting. That’s why I started in with the props.
11. When you come to see a picture of mine, I want you to know that I’m not going to do anything that will make you uncomfortable. I want you to know that you won’t be disappointed in me.
12. All I’m for is the liberty of the individual.
13. If everything isn’t black and white, I say, ‘Why the hell not?
14. I’m not the sort to back away from a fight. I don’t believe in shrinking from anything. It’s not my speed; I’m a guy who meets adversities head-on.
15. A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by.
16. Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.
17. I’d read up on the history of our country and I’d become fascinated with the story of the Alamo. To me it represented the fight for freedom, not just in America, but in all countries.
18. I never have really become accustomed to the ‘John.’ Nobody ever really calls me John… I’ve always been Duke or Marion or John Wayne. It’s a name that goes well together, and it’s like one word.
19. Nobody should come to the movies unless he believes in heroes.
20. What’s the secret of success? Right decisions. How do you make right decisions? Experience. How do you get experience? Wrong decisions.
21. The worst part of it has been, I think, the adverse effect on family life. It kills off family conversation. And it’s harder to get your children to read books. I became a confirmed reader when I was growing up in Glendale. I’ve loved reading all my life. Now I’ve got this daughter, Aissa, a very bright young lady — but it is a hard job to get her to read. Television’s just too easy.
22. When you come against trouble, it’s never half as bad if you face up to it.
23. In westerns, you meet a hardy bunch of characters. There is no jealousy on such pictures.
24. You’re short on ears and long on mouth.
25. I’m responsible only for what I say, not what you understand.
26. Never apologize and never explain – it’s a sign of weakness.
27. I was sure I’d set the world on fire, and it was hard for a young feller like me to realize the truth – that I hadn’t set the world on fire, and I was totally unprepared to handle the consequences if ‘The Big Trail’ had been a success and launched me as a star.
28. I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either.
29. A man deserves a second chance, but keep an eye on him.
30. 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.
31. I’d like to know why the well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazing and complaining people who think the world owes them a living.
32. All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be some place else.
33. When you stop fighting, that’s death.
34. I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please.
35. I’m the stuff men are made of.
In 1979, Wayne sadly succumbed to stomach cancer. He was buried in the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery with a Spanish epitaph on his tombstone that reads, “Feo, Fuerte, y Formal” – which in Wayne’s own words meant “ugly, strong, and dignified.”
With these John Wayne quotes, we will forever be reminded of how legendary the American icon is.