The author of a new book on John Wayne says the actor was the target of an assassination plot by Joseph Stalin during the 1940s, and a speech he gave one weekend two decades later might have inspired language and monologue in the movie "Patton."
Steven Travers, author of "The Duke, The Longhorns, and Chairman Mao,"
shared some of the previously unknown anecdotes central to the storyline of his book with John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV, calling them "a writer's dream."
Perhaps most compelling is the idea that Stalin, who himself had made several movies based on the Russian Revolution, wanted Wayne dead, and had the means to do so given that the Soviets had infiltrated Hollywood, something Travers said is "contrary to what current Hollywood would have you believe."
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"In 1949, one of Stalin's top guys goes to a friendship conference in New York, and he's hearing all about John Wayne," Travers said. "Who is this cowboy? He's making these speeches, we have to stand up to the Soviet Union, there's communist infiltration in Hollywood, etc., etc. This is the time of HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee], and McCarthyism is right around the corner, and he orders John Wayne killed."
According to Travers, Wayne learned of the plot while in Mexico shooting the movie "Hondo" in 1953. At the time, Wayne was in the process of divorcing his second wife, Esperanza Bauer, who hired detectives to try and uncover "dirt" that would help her in the proceedings.
"The security guys for the studio see these detectives and start kind of circling around what they're looking for," Travers said, "and in the meantime, they discover other people who turn out to be Soviet assassins. Wayne goes to the FBI and works with them and literally lures them into a meeting at the studio, where they are captured."
In the book, Travers also threads the likelihood that much of the language and monologue in the movie "Patton" originated from a wild weekend Wayne spent in Texas in September 1966.
According to Travers, Wayne was in Mexico shooting the movie "War Wagon," and one weekend traveled to Austin for the USC-Texas football game, being an alumnus and former Trojan player. While there, he delivered a passionate speech about the Vietnam War and "used crazy language"about what U.S. troops were going to do to the Communists there.
"USC assistant coach Marv Goux, who had been one of the gladiators in Spartacus, liked using movie speeches to fire up his team," Travers said. "He starts hearing what Wayne says, and he changes his speech to the team, and it starts to sound like we're going to go through our opponent like crap through a goose. Four years later, all of these USC players go to see the movie 'Patton' and they're like, that's more or less what Marv Goux has been saying for four years."
Travers believes that somehow Wayne's speech made its way from the USC locker room to the USC film school, where student and Wayne fan John Milius, who would go on to write "Dirty Harry" and "Red Dawn," took Wayne's language to his friend Francis Ford Coppola, then writing the screenplay for "Patton," tells him about it, and it ends up in the movie.
Coincidence? Perhaps. But Travers also writes in his book that an argument that Wayne got into with Nikita Khrushchev in 1968 "is almost identical" to the fight that George C. Scott has with the Russian general at the end of Patton.
"If you go to the book 'Patton: Ordeal and Triumph' by Ladislas Farago," Travers said, "These incidents are really not in the book, certainly not in the book with the color and pageantry that they are in the movie."
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