John Wayne, War Hero or Not?

Contrary to the movie poster for 1942's drama Flying Tigers (left), John Wayne (1907-1979) never saw real military service in WWII. There are many explanations as to why, but the one that seems likeliest was pressure from his studio, Republic Pictures, to keep him home making movies to cash in on his rising celebrity. He toured South Pacific bases and hospitals in 1943-44. Age 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, Wayne was not the superstar he would later become. By many accounts his failure to serve during WWII was embarrassing to him. In later years Wayne became increasingly patriotic.

Here's the Duke jitterbugging - yes, dancing - in 1944's The Fighting Seabees (Republic Pictures). "Seabee" (CB) was short for Construction Battalions, work crews that built landing strips and pontoon bridges

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