Pilar Wayne answers the door of her Orange, Calif. home with a paintbrush in her hand. She’s in the middle of painting another portrait, one of many spread out across her house. Her favorite subject: John Wayne, her beloved husband from 1954 until his death in 1979.
“He was absolutely the love of my life,” she gushes to ‘Closer,’ “My husband was so sweet and giving. There probably will never be another John Wayne.”
On-screen, he was The Duke — a rough-and-tumble hero in the Westerns and World War II movies. But in real life, he was born Marion Morrison in 1907 in Winterset, Iowa. “I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne,” he maintained, adding, “I make a living out of him.”
John Wayne in March 1974.
And a good living it was. He was one of America’s top box office stars for decades. But he concentrated on his career to the detriment of his family, and his first two marriages ended in divorce.
“He didn’t do some things right in his first couple of marriages,” his granddaughter Jennifer Wayne (whose mom, Aissa, is the oldest of John and Pilar’s three kids) confides to ‘Closer.’ “So he made family so important with my grandma. He really loved her.”
To read the full story on John, pick up the new issue of ‘Closer Weekly,’ on newsstands now!