Classic Hollywood #131 – John Wayne & Wife Pilar Pallete

John Wayne & Pilar Pallete Attend A Fundraiser – 1961

While recently visiting my 14-year-old nephew who lives in Orange County, CA, I asked him when he travels what airport does he fly out of?

He replied,” John Wayne Airport.”

It then occurred to me, “do you know who John Wayne is?” I queried him.

The answer should not have surprised me. The answer of course was no. “A politician,” he guessed.

I mean fame is fleeting but for goodness sake, John Wayne? Well “Duke” as Wayne was nicknamed, has been dead for 43 years. That’s nearly three decades before my nephew was born. So its all relative I guess.

Why would you know some old iconic western movie star that you’ve never seen in a film. If he wasn’t in Spiderman or Batman or some other superhero movie, most kids would probably never recognize the name or face of any celebrity that is not of their time.

Getting back to John Wayne, I don’t think I ever heard too much about Wayne’s marriages. He was married to Josephine Saenz from 1933 to 1945 and ​Esperanza Baur from 1946-1954 with both marriages ending in divorce. Then John Wayne married Pilar Pallete, the daughter of a Peruvian Senator on November 1, 1954. Though Pallete would move out of their Newport Beach home in 1973, the two remained married until Wayne’s death in 1979 at age 72 from cancer.

So what was the fundraiser that John Wayne and Pallete went to? This original news slug is not PC today, but here it is.


What’s a western party without John Wayne? When Hollywood decided to play “cowboys and Indians”  to raise funds for a mentally retarded children’s clinic, western actor John Wayne, with wife Pilar was first in line at the ticket gate. Although John came wearing a sheriff’s badge, he was too busy enjoying himself to make any arrests. credit: Hollywood News Service June 15, 1961.

After Wayne died Pallete would marry and divorce two times. Since John Wayne’s death, Pallete has kept a low profile except for writing a book with Alex Thorleifson about her famous husband, John Wayne: My Life With The Duke (1987) McGraw Hill .

Pallete reportedly still lives in California and will turn 94-years-old on September 3.

2 thoughts on “Classic Hollywood #131 – John Wayne & Wife Pilar Pallete

  1. Keith

    John Wayne was a stunt man in the very early days of Westerns. During this time one of the motion picture technical advisors in those early days was none other than Wyatt Earp. They spent a lot of down time on set talking about the stories , attitudes, and justice of Earp’s time. Whenever you see John Wayne in a Western you’re also seeing at least some of the true old West.


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