Born in 1907 in Winterset, John Wayne’s family moved a lot. Wayne was a smart kid and a budding athlete. He attended the University of Southern California on a sports scholarship until an injury ended his football career. Switching gears, he started working as a prop man and an extra in Hollywood. The rest is history.
Superstar John Wayne’s legacy does not end in film. Through his support for U.S. troops, efforts involved with national issues, and passion for fighting cancer, John Wayne truly left his mark. He received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in addition to being the inspiration for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation (JWCF). In the words of John Wayne himself, “When the road looks rough ahead, remember the 'Man Upstairs' and the word H-O-P-E. Hang onto both and 'tough it out.’ ”
The John Wayne Birthplace and Museum is the restored four-room home where the movie star was born. The museum houses the “largest diversified exhibit of John Wayne artifacts in existence.” It also includes a movie theater that showcases a John Wayne documentary.
Brian Downes, the executive director of Winterset’s John Wayne Birthplace Museum, and a long-time fan and friend of John Wayne, shares his special insight into John Wayne’s career and early life in Winterset.