John Wayne

John Wayne


"Duke"

John Wayne


There were three men born in 1907 that had a great influence on my life. My father, Troy William Brown, Gene Autry the singing cowboy, and the "Duke" himself...John Wayne...the American icon. Although he never served in the military, he certainly was an American hero on the screen and fought in all the major battles from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam. He probably did more for the military meeting its enlistment quota and as a morale booster than any other individual. After the release of every war movie from World War II to Vietnam, the enlistment rate increased for the branch of service portrayed. As an example, after the release of "The Sands of Iwo Jima" in 1949, the Marine Corps enlistments increased by the thousands.

John Wayne always had a desire to serve as a naval officer. In his on words on his one great disappointment in life, he said, "Ever since we moved to California, I loved the sea. More than anything else, I wanted to go to Annapolis and become an officer in the Navy. It was a terrible disappointment when I didn't make it. In a way, I guess I never really got over it...."

While assigned to London, England in 1974, I had the opportunity to meet John Wayne and appear as an extra in a movie being filmed entirely in London and directed by Douglas Hickox. The movie was filmed as "Battle Joe" but was released by United Artist in 1975 as "Brannigan." John Wayne was Joe Brannigan, a tough American cop, sent to England to extradite a drug dealer. The crook is kidnapped before Wayne can bring him back. Duke works with Scotland Yard to recapture the criminal so he can be taken back to America, while trying to keep from being killed by a hit-man on his trail. Other main cast actors were: Richard Attneborough, Ralph Meeker, Mel Ferrer, Judy Geeson, and John Vernon.

When I was first introduced to John Wayne on set at Heathrow Airport, I called him Mr. Wayne. He said, "Just call me 'Duke,' Pilgrim." I will always cherish my time with this great actor and true American.


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John Wayne and Ken Brown This is me with John Wayne on set of "Brannigan" at Heathrow Airport, London.
John Wayne "Duke"
Mr. America himself, The "Duke"
Director Douglas Hickox talking to John Wayne and Ralph Meeker Director Douglas Hickox talking to John Wayne and Ralph Meeker.
John Wayne on set of "Brannigan" John Wayne on set of "Brannigan" playing the part of Joe Brannigan, a tough Chicago cop.
John Wayne taking a break between scenes John Wayne taking a break between scenes. This chair was given to him by John Ford, Director of "Stagecoach" (released in 1939). This was the movie that propelled him to stardom.
Ralph Meeker Ralph Meeker played the part of Captain Moretti.
Daniel Pilon Daniel Pilon, played the part of the (hit-man) contract killer.
"Brannigan" movie poster "Brannigan" movie poster
"Brannigan" movie poster Another "Brannigan" poster