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Movie star John Wayne had strong feelings about television. However, this extended beyond his thoughts on the business end of the industry. Wayne had a big family, and he enjoyed spending time with them when he had the opportunity to do so away from movie sets. Wayne once explained the “worst” part of television when it came to raising a family.

John Wayne had 7 kids

Occasional television guest star John Wayne, along with children Patrick, Melinda, Toni, and Michael. Patrick and Melinda are leaning on their father, while the other two are at the desk and on the floor.
L-R: Patrick Wayne, John Wayne, Melinda Wayne, Toni Wayne, and Michael Wayne | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Wayne had seven children over the course of two marriages to Josephine Alicia Saenz and Pilar Pallete, his first and third wives. He didn’t have any children with his second wife, Esperanza Baur, also known as Chata. Wayne’s marital issues weren’t necessarily a secret, as he was frequently accused of having affairs with other women.

The movie star’s first child, Michael, was born in 1934 and died in 2003. Next, he had Mary Antonia “Toni,” who was born two years later, but she died in 2000. Wayne’s next kids included Patrick (born in 1939), Melinda (born in 1940), Aissa (born in 1956), John Ethan (born in 1962), and Marisa (born in 1966).

John Wayne thought television had ‘adverse effects’ on family life

Wayne always stayed true to the image that he portrayed in his limited television and prevalent film appearances. According to Country Thang Daily, the actor once talked about the impact of the small screen within his household. Wayne embraced much of the Hollywood storytelling earlier in his career, but he didn’t want entertainment to impede on family time. He once explained why he thought television had “adverse effects” on his time with his loved ones.

“The worst part of it has been, I think, the adverse effect on family life,” Wayne said. “It kills off family conversation. And it’s harder to get your children to read books. I became a confirmed reader when I was growing up in Glendale. I’ve loved reading all my life. Now I’ve got this daughter, Aissa, a very bright young lady — but it is a hard job to get her to read. Television’s just too easy.”

Wayne didn’t necessarily have concerns about television that don’t exist in more recent years. With the expansion of technology into tablets and computers, many parents choose to limit the amount of time that they allow their kids to use such devices.

John Wayne avoided working in television


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Wayne was a movie star, rarely ever making television appearances. There were some initial rumors that CBS’ popular adult Western television series Gunsmoke reached out to the Oscar-winning actor to play the lead character, U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon. However, that was disproven, although he did recommend fellow actor and friend James Arness for the part, who starred on the show for 20 seasons and five made-for-TV movies.

Nevertheless, Wayne still made a surprise appearance on the Gunsmoke series premiere to introduce the show and Arness as an up-and-comer. He made some other guest appearances on television as himself in series, such as The Lucy Show, but he wanted to remain in the movies. It turned out that he wasn’t so fond of the medium at home or in his career.