We all know this mug. After all, John Wayne is a bigger-than-life symbol of the American West and Old Hollywood. But did you know that John Wayne was a homebody? And a consummate collector?
"The Duke" made more than 142 films all over the world. While on location, he spent his downtime haunting local thrift stores and antique shops. He lugged home all sort of art, furniture, and objects. His weaknesses were guns, kachina dolls, Japanese ceramics, Native American relics, bronze sculptures, and fine English furniture. Here is what he told Architectural Digest back in 1977:
"Look, I find things that appeal to me, and I try to blend them in. I don't give a damn whether anyone else likes them or not."
I think he sounds like a decorator who knows what he's about. And sure enough, the treasures he bought while working would sometimes travel in the other direction too. He was known for packing knickknacks and artwork from home in order to kit out his trailer or hotel room while on location. No bedroll unfurled on a rugged steppe for him.
The Duke also loved booze. He was a connoisseur of whiskeys and at a time when it was difficult to get Kentucky bourbon west of the Mississippi, he blended his own. When he passed away in 1979, he left behind crates of his concoction and his recipes. His son Ethan now sells bourbon under the label “The Duke.” Supposedly it's rotgut, but I can't imagine that Rooster Cogburn would have a problem with that.
I created this collection with “The Duke” in mind and just listed it on Finder Not Keeper today. You can click on the photos for more information. The bottle of whiskey is unopened. Some of the alcohol has evaporated, but there’s plenty left. Pour a shot in that bull's head shot glass and drink a toast to the man whom Kathryn Hepburn said had "great legs and tight buttocks, a real great seat, and small sensitive feet.” “He carries his huge frame lightly, like a feather,” she remarked, and his walk was “very fine, light.”
As Father’s Day approaches, be assured that any manly man would appreciate this assemblage of bottles and accessories. I know my dad would. He’s been a John Wayne fan for ages and I remember the time he let me stay up with him to watch The Searchers. (I also remember the time my mother convinced him to go see Brokeback Mountain by telling him it was a western.)
Anyway, I shall leave you this Friday with my favorite John Wayne quote, which is carved onto his headstone:
Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.
Photo of John Wayne by Ray Graham.
If you like western style, you might enjoy this post about some Texas kitchens that can pick up and move, in theory anyway!