Back in 1964, John Wayne had a lung and several ribs removed due to cancer, which left him with lifelong health problems. Duke stubbornly fought the physical scenes of his films, secretly relying on an oxygen mask that he desperately wanted to hide from the public so as not to undermine his strong film persona. Propelling a string of films over the next decade, including an Oscar win for True Grit, the Western legend’s final film, The Shootout, hit theaters in 1976, just three years before his death.
Wayne is believed to have been living with the stomach cancer that killed him in 1979 while playing a cowboy living with the disease in The Shootist. However, this was not the case as Duke had been cancer free since 1969. According to Scott Ryman, John Wayne. The Life and Legend star had cancer again in 1975, but he was gone before filming began on his final film. movie However, the actor was plagued by other health problems that nearly cost him the role.
Wayne was ill for most of 1974 when the True Grit sequel Rooster Cogburn was filmed with Katharine Hepburn. It made Duke cough so violently that he damaged a heart valve and caused more problems when he ended up filming The Shootist, which airs on ITV4 today.
Initially, his poor health and stamina on Rooster Cogburn meant he was not initially considered for his final film. The likes of Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, George Scott, Paul Newman and Gene Hackman were offered the role but passed on it.
The producers of The Shootist felt that Wayne, at 69, was too old to be believable as a gunslinger. However, producer Dino De Laurentiis insisted on her casting, even though JB Books’ character was only 50 years old in the novel on which the film was based. Filming with co-stars Lauren Bacall, James Stewart and Ron Howard took place in Carson City. At an altitude of 4,600 feet, Duke’s single lung capacity was compromised in the struggle against mobility.
Eventually, production on The Shootist was halted because Wayne was hospitalized for two weeks with the flu. The star also suffered from an enlarged prostate during filming, which would not be operated on until late 1976. At one point, it was actually uncertain whether the film would end because Duke was so ill, his doctors were nearby. preventing him from completing his work on the production.
Given his serious health problems in the film, it is unlikely that he would have been able to successfully obtain insurance for the project had their integrity been known. Of course, Wayne eventually finished filming, but his stomach cancer returned and he made his last public appearance at the Academy Awards on April 9, 1979. It was here that she used a secret trick to hide how noticeably thin she was. to become
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It was later revealed that Wayne wore a wet suit under his tuxedo to get wide that night. The Western star received a standing ovation when he announced The Deer Hunter as best picture. He died just two months later on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72 with his family around him. His daughter Aisha took him by the hand and asked him if he knew who he was, and he replied with his last words:
Duke said sweetly. “Of course, I know who you are. You are my girl. I love you.”