What Was ‘Stagecoach’ and ‘True Grit’ Star John Wayne’s Net Worth at the Time of His Death?

Marion Robert Morrison, also known as John Wayne or “The Duke,” remains a popular actor and filmmaking icon. He died at 72 years old on June 11, 1979. Wayne touched lives around the world from the silent era of the 1920s through the American New Wave. He starred in more than 170 films and television shows over the years, including some of the biggest western films of all time. Here’s a look at Wayne’s net worth at the time of his death.

John Wayne is a Western and war movie icon

'True Grit' star John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in article about net worth with eye patch
John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Wayne was born on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. His parents Clyde Leonard Morrison and Mary “Molly” Alberta Brown raised him Presbyterian. Wayne had Scotch-Irish, English, and Irish ancestry. His family moved to California in 1916, where he became part of his high school’s football and debate teams. Wayne was also the president of the Latin Society and worked on his high school’s newspaper as a sports writer.

The name “Duke” originated from a local firefighter, who called Wayne “Little Duke” as a result of him always walking around with his huge dog named Duke. Wayne’s career in entertainment started with working on John Ford productions as a prop boy and extra. He credited Raoul Walsh as the first director he worked with, but Ford as the filmmaker who boosted his career.

Wayne would ultimately become one of the world’s biggest western and war movie actors. He starred in True Grit, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Stagecoach, and The Alamo. Wayne earned Oscar nominations for Sands of Iwo Jima and The Alamo. However, he won his first and only Oscar for True Grit.

What was John Wayne’s net worth at the time of his death?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Wayne’s net worth was $7 million at the time of his death. The figure is around $25 million in today’s currency after accounting for inflation. His estate included $1 million in real estate and $6 million in personal assets and investments. He owned properties in Arizona, New Hampshire, and Washington.

Wayne was making around $100,000 in passive income from royalties and investments, which comes to around $350,000 in today’s currency.

According to The New York Times, Wayne left $10,000 to his longtime secretary, Mary St. John, and $30,000 to his current secretary at the time, Pat Stacy. He left, “each of his seven children the sum of $5,000 multiplied by the difference between age 21 and the child’s age at Mr. Wayne’s death. Under those terms, the eldest son, Michael, who is 44 years old, would receive $115,000.”

The remainder of Wayne’s estate was put into trust accounts, including one for his first wife, Josephine, who got monthly checks for $3,000. There was a separate arrangement with his third wife, Pilar, although it wasn’t included in the will.

What caused John Wayne’s death?

Wayne had three wives in total and divorced two times. He had several affairs over the course of his marriages, including with his secretary.

Wayne died of stomach cancer in 1979. He received his lung cancer diagnosis in 1964. As a result, Wayne had his entire left lung and four ribs removed in surgery.

Celebrity Net Worth explains that Wayne received two of the highest civilian decorations from the U.S. government, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 1979 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The latter was posthumously awarded in 1980.

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