The 6’4 Wayne caught a full ride to USC as an offensive tackle, until he got injured while body surfing and quit football in favor of acting.
Stalin ordered a hit on Wayne for the anti-communist themes of his movies, but the FBI stopped the two KGB hit men before there were able to knock off the star.
One of the only missteps in his career was when he played Genghis Khan in “The Conqueror.” Even worse, the film was shot near the Nevada nuclear testing sites and almost half the crew were diagnosed with cancer in the following years. Wayne avoided the cancer diagnosis until almost 20 years later.
Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison, which he was understandably not fond of, but he had no say in his new moniker. “John Wayne” was chosen by the studio execs in 1930.
Although many of his characters served in the military, Wayne didn’t. He was too young for WWI and was 34 when WWII came around, so he got a 3-A deferment from the draft. He was an avid supporter of the troops though, promoting the military in his films and working USO shows.
Wayne loved playing chess, but would also cheat regularly, using his giant hands to obscure the fact that he was moving two pieces at once.
Former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison was the Duke’s grandnephew.
Wayne took a lot of his mannerisms and speech from famous western stuntman Yakima Canutt, who had his face ripped open by a bull, his intestines severed by a horse, yet survived to the ripe old age of 89.
Wayne started balding in the 40’s, but was likely forced by the studio to wear a wig during movies and appearances.
There is a (likely false) urban legend that Wayne had up to 40 pounds of undigested raw beef in his digestive tract when he died. Given that he died of cancer at 72, there was probably not an autopsy to find the meat, making the meat a myth.