Wayne described himself as “a demonstrative man,” “a baby picker, a hugger, and a kisser.” He said he liked large families and children so much that in 1970, during the shooting of “Rio Lobo,” he adopted nineteen Mexican orphans in Cuernavaca. Wayne had tremendous pride in his family, his greatest wish being that his children serve as role models for what “young America stands for.”
He was thus disappointed when his eldest son, Michael, decided not to go to the Military Academy at Annapolis, where his own application had been rejected. Wayne felt he could help Michael get admitted; by now he had the right connections. However, he did not interfere, respecting his decision to become a film producer.
Michael Wayne surprised reporters when he said that his father’s image as a family man was less known than his “hard-drinking, tough-talking man,” and that his image as “rigid, set in his ways,” was “only true with respect to himself and what he wants to do.” With his family, “he’s been remarkably liberal,” and has always “let us work things for ourselves.”
However, Wayne’s daughter, Toni, described him as an old-fashioned patriarch, “he has the master’s voice and we all listen.” He was conservative in the way he brought up his children. “He made me wipe off my lipstick when I was sixteen,” said Toni, and “I didn’t smoke in front of him until I was 21 and married.”
Wayne on Marijuana
Wayne was intolerant of marijuana smoking and said he would be “terribly upset,” if he found out his daughter using the drug. But if that happened, “I’d explain to her that I know she loves me and her mother and that we’d rather she didn’t smoke that stuff.” Patient explanation was “the only way you can work on them,” Wayne believed, “it isn’t going to do any good to beat the hell out of them.”
Wayne conceded that the only difference between raising his first set of children in the l930s, and his second in the l960s was that “I spent more time with my present kids.” However, Waye’s philosophy of life did not change over the years: “I tried to get the same things across to them then as I do now.”
Wayne’s philosophy was rather simple, consisting of three basic rules he said he had learned from his father: “First, always keep your word. Second, a gentleman never insults anyone intentionally. And third, don’t look for trouble, but if you get into a fight, make sure you win.”
Wayne embodied these rules in his movies as well as in his life. Only the second of his father’s guidelines changed in Wayne’s personal credo into: “A gentleman never insults anyone unintentionally.” “I try not to unintentionally hurt anybody’s feelings,” he explained, “but if I do hurt anybody’s feelings, I had all the intentions of hurting them.” “I try to live my life to the fullest, without hurting anybody else.”
And this was an important philosophy, Wayne thought, to pass on to his children and grandchildren. He told his kids early on in their lives “to make themselves as attractive as they can, physically and otherwise,” and to “show respect to other people, whether they’re younger or older.” He also assured them that “I’ll always help them, if they get into trouble as long as they don’t lie, but the minute they lie, they lose my respect.” Wayne’s main hope was that “my children will remember that I told them never to lie–to other people or to themselves.” He also hoped they would say that, “I was always kind and fairly decent man.” Which is the reason why he treasured a framed poem, a love letter from his daughter Aissa, wherein she thanked her parents for what they have given her in decency and self-respect.
Poor Mia Farrow
Wayne was one of the great defenders of the American nuclear family as a sacred institution. Irritated by the publicity accorded to Mia Farrow’s giving birth out of wedlock, his brief but harsh response was “Poor upbringing.”
Indeed, Wayne always defended the “morality” of the film colony, “how many actresses do you know have illegitimate babies” “There is no more promiscuity in our business than there ever was,” he explained, “the only difference is that now when they have an illegal baby, people say, ‘Hearts-and-Flowers,’ and ‘how wonderful!’ instead of saying, ‘Oh, the poor girl!’” He refused to believe that “just because one movie star has an illegitimate baby,” it meant this was “the normal procedure in our society.”