How did John Wayne get the nickname Duke?

Found this on Yahoo:

In John Wayne’s own words, “There’ve 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!”

John Wayne was born Marion Michael Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. When young Marion was six, the family moved to California, eventually settling in Glendale. Marion delivered newspapers in the morning with his trusty Airedale, Duke. The locale firemen called them “Big Duke” and “Little Duke.”

Marion later accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California. In the summer of 1926, head coach Howard Jones fixed Duke up with a job as an assistant prop man on the set of a John Ford movie. The rest is history.

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The happy Morrison family
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Marion Morrison (John Wayne) and his dog Duke
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Who could know that boy would turn into this man?


Author: jcalberta

Howdy! I love Westerns. ... and the intent of is to celebrate Western Movies/Film - old and new. This site will eventually show my top 30 favorite Westerns - or more. I will have original graphic work with regular updates. All this - and more ... Yee Haw ... !! - jcablerta / Moderator / Administrator

14 thoughts on “How did John Wayne get the nickname Duke?”

    1. You know what Blake? I’m going to have to check that again.
      Because of John’s work got a little too formula for me after a while.
      He definitely was in more than his share of Classic Westerns and I haven’t updated my Pages section quite a while.
      Thank you for comment – and take care.

    2. Hey Blake! I have to watch it again – it’s been some time since I’ve last seen it and I’ve changed my opinion on several Westerns over the years. John made more that his of great Western Classics to be sure, but also went through an era where much of his work was pretty formula.
      Thanks for dropping by – and take care.

  1. Was this obliquely referenced in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? To wit: Professor Henry Jones, Sr. to Henry Jones, Jr.: “We named the dog Indiana”

    1. Who knew eh? Yet his awkward upbringing helped create the man who became Iconic American.
      It’s those bumps that bring us the lessons that shape us I guess?

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