The Duke’s children open up to Closer about the important life lessons their dad taught them.
He often played mavericks on the screen, and in real life, John Wayne didn’t always follow the rules, either. “If we had a kit, he would just take parts out and start putting it together,” son Patrick Wayne tells Closer. “He wouldn’t look at the directions, and invariably there would be four or five pieces unused by the time he was done.”
When it came to other tasks, though, John knew what he was doing and often passed along that knowledge to his seven children. Now some of those useful tidbits have been gathered in a new book, The Official John Wayne Handy Book for Men, by James Ellis.
The Duke didn’t discriminate with his own kids, however. Daughter Marisa has fond memories of spending time with her father in the Canadian wilderness. “We would go fishing and hiking all day, and he taught me how to bait the hook and gut and clean the fish,” she recalls to Closer. “I can’t say I could do it today, but I really got into it as a little girl.”
Not all of John’s leisure-time pursuits were quite so outdoorsy. “He taught me how to play chess, backgammon, gin rummy and poker,” says Marisa, 52. “Back then there weren’t video games or cellphones and we had no TV, but we had a lot of fun playing games.”
John also instructed by example, especially when Patrick, 79, co-starred with him in films like The Searchers, The Alamo and McLintock! “He set the bar and taught me the skills to be a professional,” says Patrick. “He was always prepared for work and knew his lines, and if he had to do a physical skill like shoe a horse, he’d learn to do it before he came to the set so it looked natural on camera.”
There was only one skill set the Duke seemed to lack. “He wasn’t much of a cook, but my mom [Pilar] was,” says Marisa. “He loved this cheese soufflé she’d make. She named it the Duke Soufflé!” Agrees Patrick, “I don’t recall ever seeing him cook. His great skill was eating.” Hmm, wonder if he enjoyed true grits…. —Reporting by Amanda Champagne-Meadows
Marisa gives her father a kiss on the set of the 1975 True Grit sequel Rooster Cogburn. Patrick with his dad on the set of 1968’s The Green Berets, one of the many movies they made together