Hugs for a good soul.
Due to his films, values, and demeanor, John Wayne has always been perceived as a brutal rancher. Nonetheless, he revealed his gentler side during his final public appearance at the 1979 Academy Awards.
At his final public appearance, the 1979 Academy Awards, actor John Wayne received an embrace he said he wouldn’t miss for the world. Through his roles in Westerns and war films, he displayed a rugged exterior that became popular on the big screen.
However, Wayne exhibited a gentler side to many of his coworkers, allowing him to form close bonds with them. Wayne carried his conservative morals and values to the silver screen from real life, and he represented a particular view of America and was more than just a movie icon.
Hollywood initially disregarded Wayne because it believed he could only portray himself. Nonetheless, his influence on moviegoers and popular culture was undeniable. Even though they disagreed with him politically, many of the actor’s coworkers were captivated by his charisma.
In addition, Wayne disproved their assumptions about his acting ability. He eventually won an Academy Award for his performance in “True Grit.” Still, his other legendary roles in films such as “Red River” and “The Shootist” also established him as a Hollywood icon.
At the 1979 Academy Awards, Sammy Davis Jr. gave Wayne an embrace that would go down in history. The legendary Western actor made his final public appearance there, which Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members could witness.
Wayne was chosen to proclaim the winner in the category for Best Picture, which included “The Deer Hunter,” “Coming Home,” “Midnight Express,” “An Unmarried Woman,” and “Heaven Can Wait.” “The Deer Hunter” won the coveted category, although Wayne could not tolerate the film.
The actor’s films have always reflected his own conservative, traditional values. What made him the legend he is today was that he brought his trustworthy demeanor and preferences to the screen.
Despite their political differences, even his peers adored him; after receiving an Oscar for his lead performance in “True Grit,” an actor who was frequently criticized for playing himself in films was almost entirely accepted by Hollywood. Numerous colleagues and critics praised his performances in other films, including“Red River” and “The Shootist.”
According to Michael Munn’s book “John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth,” the actor’s health rapidly declined, causing him to become noticeably fragile. After making the announcement, Wayne went to the press room, where the embrace occurred. Still, Davis Jr. initially believed he had made a mistake.
Oscar-nominated Ava Garnder explained, “Sammy felt terrible because he had hugged Duke so tightly without realizing that Duke was in excruciating pain.” However, it was a hug from a close old friend that Wayne would not have missed for the world.
The Western actor did not survive the night Davis Jr. embraced Wayne, and on June 11, 1979, he died from stomach cancer only two months later. Wayne’s penultimate performance on the silver screen was as a dying gunfighter attempting to maintain as much dignity as possible in The Shootist.
This role struck a chord with some viewers. Hollywood and moviegoers lamented the death of one of the industry’s greatest icons. However, the actor received one of the most prestigious accolades he could have hoped for: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor attainable.