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John Wayne's America : the politics of celebrity

Author: Garry Wills
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, ©1997.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Eighteen years after his death, John Wayne is still America's favorite movie star. He was less an actor than a symbol, the most popular pop icon of the twentieth century, and one of the most important political figures in America. People shaped their lives or adopted political stands to conform to him as a template of authentic Americanism. Wayne became the lens through which people saw their own and their country's
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Genre/Form: Biography
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Wills, Garry, 1934-
John Wayne's America.
New York : Simon & Schuster, c1997
(OCoLC)606050199
Named Person: John Wayne; John Wayne
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Garry Wills
ISBN: 0684808234 9780684808239
OCLC Number: 35830182
Description: 380 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
Contents: Prologue : The most dangerous man --
Introduction : Scope of the book --
Inventing a cowboy --
John Ford --
Inventing another cowboy --
Empire --
Propaganda --
Later Ford and Hawks --
A third cowboy --
Conclusion : American Adam
Responsibility: Garry Wills.
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Abstract:

Eighteen years after his death, John Wayne is still America's favorite movie star. He was less an actor than a symbol, the most popular pop icon of the twentieth century, and one of the most important political figures in America. People shaped their lives or adopted political stands to conform to him as a template of authentic Americanism. Wayne became the lens through which people saw their own and their country's history. In this brilliant, groundbreaking study of the relationship between politics and popular culture, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills focuses on the manufacture of "John Wayne" from the raw materials of Marion Morrison, the person born in Iowa who became a myth, his own reality swallowed up in his meaning as master directors such as John Ford crafted films that made him the personification of America's frontier myth.

Unlike other actors and actresses with whom we associate political views, Wayne embodied a politics of large meanings - a politics of gender (masculine), ideology (patriotism), character (self-reliance), and personal responsibility. It was a politics of implicit dogmas that often transcended his own views and behavior. Although Wayne avoided serving in the military during World War II, he became, through his screen roles, the model of the American soldier. Likewise, although Wayne's popular image is that of a staunch anti-Communist, in reality he avoided taking a stand in the bitter ideological war that raged in Hollywood until after the issue had been decided.

In this work of great originality, the biography of an idea, Wills shows how John Wayne and the Hollywood image factories distorted or ignored important facts of Wayne's life to create his myth. Wills shows for the first time how Wayne, through his screen characters, spoke to the needs of his audience at crucial periods in American history, and how in response Americans invested their emotions in that embodiment of their deepest myths.

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