Throughout the Nineteen Thirties, Forties and Fifties John Wayne was one of many largest Hollywood stars round. He starred in dozens of films over the few a long time and was simply years away from successful his first Oscar for Best Actor in 1969’s True Grit.
So it was extraordinarily thrilling for the trade when Wayne determined to direct, produce, and star within the 1960 film The Alamo – a biopic of The Battle of the Alamo, a historic occasion that turned the tide throughout America’s Texas Revolution.
And when he began in search of actors to fill the roles of his historic heroes, he solely needed the perfect.
At the identical time, Charlton Heston was additionally making waves within the film trade. He, too, was a prolific actor all through the Forties and Fifties. Most notably, he performed Ben-Hur within the 1959 epic of the identical identify, incomes him an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Suffice it to say, Heston and Wayne would have been a match made in heaven for filmgoers, who would have seen two icons of the silver display work collectively for the primary time.
But, due to the political divide between the pair, it was not meant to be.
Wayne was a staunch conservative, and very open in discussing his right-wing views. In 1971 he even brazenly advocated for “white supremacy”.
Wayne instructed Playboy Magazine on the time: “I believe in white supremacy,” earlier than condemning the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy for being “a story about two f**s”.
Heston, alternatively, was a passionate democrat. He would even go on to march for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King in 1963.
So when the American star was despatched the script for The Alamo by Wayne, Heston was reluctant.
Before lengthy, Heston turned down the function of Jim Bowie. And after the movie had been launched, Heston mentioned there have been “good reasons” to not do the film.
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When Heston was pressed additional concerning the matter, he mentioned one of many causes was “having John Wayne” as a director.
There is little question that the pair’s political views drastically clashed. And some sources declare Heston “feared the critical response to the movie”.
The actor additionally cited his not too long ago launched Ben-Hur as a purpose. Heston defined he had simply spent months filming Ben-Hur within the desert, and didn’t need to commit to one other monumental film project.
Wayne went forward with The Alamo with out Heston, casting Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie as a substitute. And the movie was an incredible success, incomes Wayne a nomination for Best Picture on the 1961 Oscars.
But years later, Heston expressed plenty of remorse about his selections.
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Heston later had a political change of coronary heart and have become a full right-wing republican within the years that adopted. After reflecting on turning down The Alamo, he mentioned refusing Wayne and his film was “a huge mistake”.
Heston’s political views shifted a lot that he grew to become a Republican activist. He even labored with Wayne a couple of years later in 1965 on the biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Heston’s respect for Wayne by no means faltered after that, both. When Wayne died in 1979 from abdomen most cancers, Heston was one of many first stars to converse out concerning the actor. Heston mentioned: “He was – and is – an American institution. It’s not surprising that, to the end, Duke gave an example of courage that made him more than an actor and friend.”