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John Wayne finally left the Oscars as a winner in 1970. However, this win meant more than the actor securing a win. His fan base champions the Western actor, making his win a historic one. Wayne took this opportunity to deliver a meaningful speech with a touch of light humor, which especially targets those who know how hard he worked for his Oscar statue.

John Wayne won only 1 Oscar for ‘True Grit’

'True Grit' Kim Darby as Mattie Ross and Oscar-winner John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn wearing cowboy hats and Western clothing in black-and-white
L-R: Kim Darby as Mattie Ross and Oscar-winner John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Wayne earned three Oscar nominations, but only took home one golden statue in his lifetime. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first nominated him for Best Actor in a Leading Role for 1949’s Sands of Iwo Jima. Next, Wayne earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture for 1959’s The Alamo.

However, the legendary Western actor didn’t get his only Oscar win until he played Rooster Cogburn in 1969’s True Grit. Many audiences believe that he deserved more nominations, especially for his final work in 1976’s The Shootist, where he plays J.B. Books.

John Wayne revealed in his Oscars acceptance speech that he would have worn an eyepatch 35 years earlier

The Oscars YouTube channel shared the moment that Wayne won the award for his tremendous performance in True Grit. Barbra Streisand presented the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The category’s nominees included Jon Voight for Midnight Cowboy, Richard Burton for Anne of the Thousand Days, Dustin Hoffman for Midnight Cowboy, Peter O’Toole for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and Wayne for True Grit.

The moment Streisand announced Wayne as the winner, the crowd burst into applause. The actor took the stage, accepted his trophy, and dabbed his eye. Wayne clearly got emotional when he finally earned an Oscar.

“Wow,” Wayne said. “If I had known that, I would have put that patch on 35 years earlier. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m no stranger to this podium. I’ve come up here and picked up these beautiful golden men before, but always for friends. One night, I picked up two. One for Admiral John Ford, one for our beloved Gary Cooper.”

The reference to the eye patch refers back to his True Grit character’s iconic eye patch that he wears.

Wayne continued: “I was very clever and witty that night in the envy of even Bob Hope. But, tonight, I don’t feel very clever, very witty. I feel very grateful, very humble, and all thanks to many, many people. I want to thank the members of the Academy. To all you people who are watching on television, thank you for taking such a warm interest in our glorious industry. Good night.”

‘True Grit’ returned to the Oscars in 2011 with 10 nominations


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However, Wayne’s success at the Oscars wasn’t the end of the movie’s praise. Ethan and Joel Coen directed a screenplay they wrote together that adapted True Grit. The movie stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. The film earned a shocking 10 Oscar nominations.

Unfortunately, the film didn’t take home any awards at the 2011 Oscars. However, critics and audiences praise this adaptation for bringing the story to a modern audience in a way that is inventive. Nevertheless, Wayne’s fans will always return to the original.