John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Heartbroken’ When He Lost 1 Secret Dream Career

Actor John Wayne developed an extensive career in the film industry, ultimately becoming the face of the Western and war movie genres. He earned an Oscar nomination for his leading performance in Sands of Iwo Jima, only to finally pick up the golden statuette for his legendary work in True Grit. However, acting wasn’t his initial love. Wayne was “heartbroken” when he lost that secret dream career.

John Wayne started his props career in high school

Career actor John Wayne wearing a Navy outfit and a white collared shirt
John Wayne | REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Carolyn McGivern’s John Wayne: A Giant Shadow revealed how the actor got his props career started back in high school. He joined the Stage Society as a prop boy, which allowed him to learn how to build sets and put together tables, lamps, and any other needs for the set. Wayne took real joy in working with these props for school productions.

The eventual movie star got his start in Hollywood, continuing his works in props but on a much bigger scale. He worked at Fox, which is where he had his fateful first meeting with legendary filmmaker John Ford. He worked hard and developed a close friendship with the director, which resulted in several notable collaborations, such as The Searchers and The Quiet Man.

John Wayne was ‘heartbroken’ after he lost his naval career

Wayne enjoyed a wonderful career in Hollywood, but he had another passion that he was “heartbroken” to lose. According to McGivern, he was doing very well for himself in Glendale, California, where he also earned a football scholarship at the University of Southern California.

Wayne had a secret career dream of joining the navy, which all came from his love of the sea. He was initially born in the mid-West and was raised in the desert, but he was instantly drawn to the ocean via stories that he read and heard about.

He didn’t tell anybody his plans when he was growing up, but he aimed his academic interest toward applying to a naval school named Annapolis. However, the institution rejected him, even though they still held his name on their reserve list. Nevertheless, Wayne expressed that he was “heartbroken” over the ordeal.

“Not making it into the navy was one of the biggest disappointments of my life,” Wayne said. “Deep in my heart, I was always a sailor. I loved the sea … never tired of it.”

Wayne didn’t take the bad news so well, as he retreated into himself, becoming “quiet, withdrawn, and moody.” He fell back on going to USC, even though he still considered it to be “humiliation.”

John Wayne invested in a World War II houseboat

Wayne didn’t get the opportunity to make the open sea his career, but he was still able to have adventures of his own on the silver screen. He went as far as investing in a slice of the sea-faring life in his free time later into his life.

The movie star purchased a decommissioned World War II Naval minesweeper and used it as a houseboat. He called it the Wild Goose II. He created a slice of heaven for himself with a gorgeous bar and rooms for games. Wayne didn’t have the opportunity to explore the career that he always wanted, but he did get to enjoy the sea while living in Newport Beach.

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