John Wayne, or as many of The Duke, was a Hollywood icon. He starred in over 70 films and secured an Oscar for Best Actor in 1970 for True Grit.
So then, it was even more tragic when the star was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1976. Yesterday, on June 11, 2022, it was the 43rd anniversary of the star’s death, who lost his battle against the illness in 1979.
Ever Wonder Why John Wayne’s Gravesite Went Unmarked for So Many Years? Now Read the Heartfelt Message It Has on It
However, Wayne did not have the most traditional burial. His children, Patrick and Ethan Wayne, buried the star in Pacific View Memorial Park in California, USA. This is the same gravesite as some other incredible artists from over the years – including basketball player Kobe Bryant and singer Bobby Hatfield.
Prior to his death, Wayne requested his gravestone have the words “Feo, Fuerte y Formal” etched on it – a Spanish epitaph which means “ugly, strong, and dignified”. But, instead, his children left him in an unmarked grave so no one could bother him.
Ethan Wayne explained he did not want his father’s gravesite to become a tourist attraction for his fans.
He said, “You want him to rest in peace. We didn’t want to make a shrine. It’s more out of respect for the people that are out there. They don’t want their loved ones’ graves trampled on.”
However, almost 20 years later, the Wayne family seemed to change their tune. They placed a beautiful plaque over the location of Wayne’s burial in 1998.
Wayne’s bronze plaque was then adorned with a cowboy on horseback riding through the Old West. A nod to the star’s movie career, as he frequently played cowboys in Westerns across America.
And the plaque was complemented with a wonderful quote etched directly into it.
And while Wayne requested “Feo, Fuerte y Formal” to be on his grave, his family went for something a little more uplifting.
His plaque reads: “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
Ethan Wayne later said of marking the grave, “I personally think it’s wonderful that people want to go see him. He was a public person. He had a relationship with his family. But he also had a relationship with his fans. His fans allowed him to lead his lifestyle.”
He then recalled a heartfelt habit his father kept up to honor his fans.
Ethan continued, “[John Wayne] spent probably three to four hours a day just answering fan mail. Every letter got answered. They like him. If they want to go see him, I think it’s wonderful. He had a tremendous impact on people.”
It was no secret that Wayne had a massive effect on many people in his life. But it was believed that he had the most impact on his daughter, Aissa.
If you weren’t already aware, Aissa, wrote a book about her father and their relationship. In the book, she debuted specific rumors about her father. While it was once believed that Wayne was so secure in his work that he never read any of the reviews for his movies, Aissa noted that Wayne read nearly all of the major critics’ reviews. And got upset at the negative ones.
While on his deathbed, Wayne’s hand was held by his daughter, who asked him if he knew who she was. With his final breath and final words, he replied, “Of course, I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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