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CULTURE Wayne became the biggest movie star in Hollywood while the world burned. John Wayne visited Australia in 1943 to entertain the troops. Although he wasn’t enlisted, he donned a uniform and posed for this photo with a lieutenant colonel. PHOTO COURTESY STATE LIBRARY OF QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK Making of a Myth by HILE FIRST-TIME DIRECTOR John Wayne was shoot ing The Alamo in 1959, he received an uninvited guest on his set near Brackettville, Texas. It was his old friend John Ford. The filmmaker, then 66, had not only directed many of Hollywood’s most influential Westerns; he also was responsible for spotting an unknown prop boy named Marion Morrison wandering the backlot at 20th Century Fox 30 years earlier. Ford molded Morrison into John Wayne, who would become the world’s biggest movie star and the personification of American machismo. Wayne looked up to Ford like a father, but he needed to make The Alamo his own way. He sank his reputation, clout and last dollar into it. So when Ford arrived and started telling his protege how to direct the movie, Wayne did what he could to get himself out from under his surrogate father’s considerable shadow: He sent Ford off to shoot unnecessary scenes that would never make it into the movie. If only Oedipus had been so kind. The Alamo, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this month with surprisingly little fanfare,, was Wayne’s Rorschach test, his analyst’s couch, and the central storyline in his ongoing self-creation myth. If Ford had created John Wayne the rugged cowboystoic with a troubled psyche, his protg was out to create John Wayne the irreproachable hero, noble beyond measure and wrapped in the American flag. And Ford couldn’t be around for that, because Wayne knew that his mentor had succeeded as a real hero where he had failed. When the United States entered World War II, Fordlike Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart and dozens of other Hollywood luminariesvolunteered for duty. Wayne, on the other hand, sought deferrals and stayed in Hollywood to cultivate his career, ignoring Ford’s pleas to join him in Europe. Wayne became the biggest movie star in Hollywood while the world OCTOBER 29, 2010 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1 25