May 21

Mary Antonia Wayne LaCava: Meet The Duke’s Daughter

Born on February 25, 1936, in Los Angeles, California, Mary Antonia Wayne LaCava – who went by “Toni” – was the daughter of soon to be an important figure of American films, famous actor John Wayne.

At that time, the actor was still tirelessly and determinedly honing his craft while starring in a series of less popular Western features and series. He would hang around stunt performers and real-life cowboys, time and again, to learn the essential skills for him to portray as a cowboy on screen effectively. Eventually, John Wayne developed his signature walk, style of fighting, and right choices of clothes and ultimately made famous quotes as a legendary man. He also learned to stage most of his own stunts. Finally, in 1939 – three years after Toni was born – Wayne had a breakthrough role as the Ringo Kid in the American Western film  “Stagecoach.” The actor’s performance helped him become a star until the end of time.

Growing up with an acting father, Toni would often make some uncredited cameo appearances in her father’s film. She first appeared in Wayne’s 1952 romantic comedy-drama film “The Quiet Man” as a young teenage girl at the races, as well as in the 1960 American epic historical war film, The Alamo.

Toni’s mother is of Spanish American descent, Josephine Alicia Saenz – whose father is a Consul General of Panama in the United States and a wealthy businessman. Josephine met Wayne when she was only fifteen at a beach party in Balboa, California, and the two quickly fell in love with each other. However, their relationship was met with considerable resistance from Josephine’s family.

After seven years of courtship, Wayne’s financial situation greatly improved – thanks to his box office hits – and he managed to persuade Josephine’s family to approve the marriage.

In addition to Toni, Josephine and John Wayne’s kids include Michael Wayne, Patrick Wayne, and Melinda Wayne Munoz. Both Michael and Patrick pursued a career in Hollywood. Michael was an American film producer and actor, while Patrick had more than 40 films under his belt, including eleven with his father.

Toni had three more siblings from her father’s other marriages: Aissa Wayne, Marisa Wayne, and John Ethan Wayne, who’s also an actor.

In 1956, Toni Wayne married Donald La Cava. The couple had eight children together: Anita, Mark, Brigid, Kevin, Christopher, Peter, David, and Brendan. However, Toni and Donald divorced after 25 years of marriage.

Only a few pieces of information are actually known about Toni as she lived most of her life as a private person and raised her family out of the public eye. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer and passed away in 2001.


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John Wayne, Mary Antonia Wayne LaCava


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