View Full Version : Did the Duke have a drink problem

The Shootister
June 5th, 2003, 04:55 AM
Hello Duke Heads

Does anyone else think like I do that off screen the duke may have had a drink problem, I know he liked a cigar from time to time, but as well as having Lung Cancer Duke had Stomach cancer as well, in my proffesion I know that it is common for people who have stomach cancer to have consumed alot of alcohol. It leaves the stomach very burned and red and susceptible to cancerous diseases. I have read on a few occasions where the duke got very drunk. But he was able to hide it on the screen. But He did have the perfect job for doing this because there would have been weeks where he could have went on large drinking spree's before and after movies.

He did once say never trust a man who doesnt drink, and i really respect him for that because in that statememt he admits he likes a drink and is not afraid to come out and tell it like it is. The dukes best quality, Up frontness and truthfulness. I hate people who arent up front and to the point. :D
Ps No political pointscoring? :ph34r:

June 5th, 2003, 06:19 AM
JW lived in a time where a smoking habit was quite normal and like a second nature (look at photographs from that period - everybody seems to be smoking). These were the times when it wasn't generally known that cigarettes could kill you - and it was quite usual to have stars advertising for cigarettes, as JW did on several occasions.
A drinking habit? Of course! Drink he did with his friends, and there are many hell-raising stories about that (Hardy Kruger tells in his book about an infamous drinking match between himself and JW on the set of Hatari - don't know if it's published in English also). Again: these were the times where you had your cocktail on a regular basis. JW reportedly liked the company of men, and he was often away with members of Ford's stock company, on Ford's ship "Araner" - on trips to desolate areas, where men could be men and have a drink, or two - or ten. The controversial Garry Willis writes in "John Wayne's America" that JW even needed the work on films to discipline himself (because he didn't drink when hired). But never have I read a comment from somebody who knew him well enough to state that he was actually addicted (suggested this was, of course, from persons who weren't actually in his inner circle). There is of course a difference between drinking a lot and even drinking too much - and being an alcoholic. One of his best friends, Grant Withers, was an alcoholic - so JW knew very well about the difference. And then of course it was part of his onscreen image - the rugged westerner who likes rotgut whiskey. Even in his last picture, they had the last scene changed when Books orders his drink in the Saloon - from sophisticated white wine - to whiskey.

June 5th, 2003, 06:26 AM
rice one (on ya) itdo duke was a man of his times when men were so tough that they rusted so he enjoyed his drink who didn't in those times i remember as a child the ringers (cowboys) coming into town on a friday night after a hard weeks slog enjoying knocking down a few jugs . at least he was never crist like a picket (drunk) while he was working which showed the type of man he was.

cheers smokey

The Shootister
June 5th, 2003, 06:35 AM
Yes lads the duke liked a drink You two have got very defensive all of a sudden I raise these issues Because they have meaning and there is a factual side to them. They are interesting and explorative. Im not in any way trying to annoy anybody or give misleading evidence. Nor am i immune to what happenened during the 50's 60's and 70's, and what the norm was in this time period.

But it was well for some to be able to go off drinking on large boats for weeks on end, alot of people back in that time couldnt have dreamed of such activities.

But in the end up thirty years of drinking did have its affect on John Wayne. Back then lads not everyone was of the opinion that drink as much as you like hey its the 60s this stuff isnt bad for you. People back then knew as well as they do now that drinking and smoking was very bad for you.

June 5th, 2003, 07:53 AM
hi shootister,

firstly i'm not a lad but am a lass, secondly so what if duke liked to drink it was not what killed him in the end now is it. yes we all know about the demon drink what i was saying is that some people used drink to let off steam after a long period of high tension. you wait and see how the boys and girls behave when they come home from the middle east and other places and see them get together and have a drinking time no they aint alco's but using this to let off steam and to relax with their mates don't you like a little tipple now and then. if duke had a drinking problem it would now be called binge drinking, and i don't have a problem with drinking i drink fall down no problem :lol: no you didn't offend me but remember some of us grew up in different situations and countries so we all have different views on what is a drinking problem in my case the pub was the place you went out for a meal in the lounge after long periods of time living in the bush.

cheers smokey

The Shootister
June 5th, 2003, 08:21 AM
Sorry Smokey for mistaking your gender that was wrong of me.

You say that the drink problem was hardly what killed him in the end. But the duke died of Lung and Stomach cancer, I dont know if its nievety on your part or an unwillingness to accept a point. But smoking is the main cause of Lung cancer in human Beings and accesive drinking is the main cause of Stomach Cancer.

Yeah sure most people like a drink now and again but step back think, did the duke have a drinking problem most people wont admit to being addicted to something but when you have stomach cancer and you have drank alot over a long period you have to ask yourself is there a problem here. And i think there definatley was a serious problem, along with the dukes smoking habits. Thats why now adays there is a lot of man management time spent with the big hollywood stars to try to keep them on the straight and narrow and not allow them to influence there young fans with smoking and alcohol.

June 5th, 2003, 09:19 AM
Didn't want to sound over-protective (same way I sound when somebody questions my own smoking - yeah, it's still allowed over here - and drinking habits).
Still, I don't think JW had a drinking problem - there always was enough to drink wherever he went. :) To make my point again - and we can only offer opinions here, right? - After his lung operation in 65 JW certainly knew about the dangers of smoking (read Pat Stacy's book "Duke" to find out how he felt about cigarettes and tried to help Pat stop smoking. "Those f***ing killers" he called cigarettes on one occasion). And he often had a drink - yet he was not addicted to the stuff.
So that's really all there is. If that is what your question originally was. Sounds kinda normal to me. But then - I do enjoy a smoke and a glass of tarantula juice myself.

The Shootister
June 5th, 2003, 09:24 AM
Yep I take on everything you say itdo but you still havent commited yourself, too me your sounbites are well the duke would have taken lung cancer if he hadnt of smoked and he would have taken stomach cancer if he hadnt of burned it out of himself with drink.

Its just a lesson to us all I suppose no matter how much money you have or how much fame, if you dont look after your body the chances are you could die prematurely, and nobody wants that no matter how much enjoyment fags and drink gives them.

June 5th, 2003, 09:59 AM

First of all, I'm curious about your moniker for us, "Duke Heads." It doesn't sound very complimentary at all. Most of us on this board are unabashed, unashamed John Wayne fans (and proud of it, too :D ).

Second, I don't think anyone can possibly say that John Wayne wasn't a heavy smoker - a five to six pack a day habit, only having to light the first cigarette of the day (his daughter, Aissa, made allusion to that in her book) is a big, fat habit - a bad one. No question. Same case with the drinking - whether or not he was an alcoholic, he was a heavy drinker. So . . . what's your point? We come to this message board not to dwell on the Duke's negative habits, but to enjoy the good things that are there to enjoy. The good Lord gave him a reasonably long life (the Bible suggests we might have but "three score and ten" and he beat that by two years), and yes, he might have lived longer had he curbed those habits or not had them at all. I don't know if Ricky Nelson smoked or drank, but he died a lot younger than John Wayne - maybe he shouldn't have been flying in an airplane :huh: .

We are all aware the man had weaknesses (I have one also, I seem to be addicted to this message board :rolleyes: , hopefully it won't kill me) - he was human like the rest of us. Next, you'll want to count the hairs on his toupee (oops, sorry, I'm confusing you with Robbie now).



baron von Rassilon
June 5th, 2003, 10:18 AM

"Does anyone else think like I do that off screen the duke may have had a drink problem" from what you are saying here, the question you really want to say is, was John Wayne an alcoholic?? Drinking problem and alcoholic are the same thing. The answer is no. Absolutly not. Sure John Wayne loved to get into drinking binges with his buddies, but that does not mean he had a drinking problem. He was stone sober when he did his movies. You wouldn't find empty liquor bottle laying around his house. If he had a "drinking problem", it would have affected his movies. Look at Gail Russell one of his co stars. She became an alcoholic and it destroyed her career and then it destroyed her. That's a drinking problem!

As far as the stomach cancer is concerned, I don't know if it was the alcohol that gave it to him. I, myself have never heard of alcohol being the leading cause of stomach cancer. I do know it damages the liver and causes other problems. I also know there have been many people who don't drink or smoke that have died from stomach cancer.

Besides, whats a guy to do to have fun?? Drink tea and play tiddly-winks??

Sorry to say Shootster, but you are the naive (the correct spelling) one, you need to know that Hollywood management does not keep the stars of today on the straight and narrow. Brad Pitt and Sharon Stone smokes and Hollywood isn't busting their case about it. Arnold Schwarnegger, and many others smoke cigars. And God knows how many drink, from wine to beer, and they don't have a drinking problem.

John Wayne also liked to play cards for money with his friends. Are you now going to say he had a gambling problem too??

Oh! Wait! According to Ayssia Wayne, The Duke like to buy large amounts of Halloween candy also to munch on. Holy Crow! He had an eating disorder too!!!!

So lets see:

1. He drank too much
2. He smoked too much
3. He loved women too much
4. He gambled too much
5. He ate chocolates too much
6. He cussed too much
7. He worked hard too much ( I forgot, he was a workaholic too)
8. He ate meat too much (might as well throw that one in for the PETA people)
9. He lived to about 72 years of age (the average male life span)

I dunno, he sounds like my kind of guy. Now what was the problem again??

June 5th, 2003, 10:24 AM
Thanks Baron. I couldn't have said it any better. :D I don't know if the Duke had a drinking problem, but I don't know if I buy your story on drinking being the cause of his stomach cancer. I don't think that is a medical absolute. From personal experience, I can say that my dad dies six months ago from colon cancer that spread to his stomach. He was never a drinker. Cancer spreads... that's what it does. There doesn't have to be a definitive link between his stomach cancer and his consumption of alcohol.

The Shootister
June 5th, 2003, 10:57 AM
Well in starting this topic Ive been told point blank that im wrong, the best point has been drinking doesnt cause stomach cancer I find it amazing how grown individuals can say that drinking alcohol i.e too much of it cant cause stomach cancer type it into the net and see the flood of information.

"A diet that is high in foods preserved by drying, smoking, salting, or pickling contributes to stomach cancer. These foods usually contain nitrates or nitrites. Drinking too much alcohol or smoking also can cause stomach cancer."


baron von Rassilon If you want to pick holes in my spelling mistakes lets pick a few in yours schwarzenegger is spelt like that. And shootister is spelt like that.

Eh when someone plays cards for money they are usually classified as a gambler yes. John wayne didnt loose his fortune but he did get stomach cancer possibly from consuming to much alcohol is that impossible to comprehend, Maybe its just me maybe ive just had this mad Idea that smoking too much and drinking too much can cause stomach cancer im sorry the idea is a little far fetched alright????????????

Come on people duke heads is a complimentery gesture, why do we have to talk about how wonderful dukes movies are all the time, cant we divesrse accordingly. Maybe Its just bad old me. But im afraid in hollywood not everyone drinks and smokes that much that it has a final effect on there life look at clint same age as the duke and still going stong im afraid the dukes fate was the same as Oliver Reids. :angry:

June 5th, 2003, 12:13 PM
You're absolutely right about one thing: why should we go on and on about how great his films are - we already know that! But the thing is this: a discussion about if his drinking (and drink he did, I think we all agree on this one) caused stomach cancer goes nowhere. That's right were we are now. I know the guy who has a couple of his toupees - but until we can't locate the guy who's got his liver at home, we have no way to tell for sure. So I for one won't think every time I see him rolling a cigarette in a western or smoking a cigar in a war movie - oh, no Duke, if you woulda stopped that we coulda gotten out one more movie out of you! And those damn photos in which he lighted the new cigarette with the butt of the old one just to make the still man happy! Heck, he made a lot of commercials for cancer instututes for free, telling his fella Americans to get a Checkup.
But anyway, Shootister: good topic. Keep them JW fans on their toes! But I feel like a cigar and a good glass of whiskey right now.

June 5th, 2003, 06:03 PM
I have read just about every book ever written about Duke and the ones that broach the subject of his drinking habits state that while he loved to drink and was known for his drinking, he was NOT an alcoholic. He could go long bouts without a drink. Never reported to the set drunk. My parents were alcoholics and I can tell you from my expierience that alcoholics can't put down the juice anytime they want. It is a part of their existance. Same with ciggi's. Duke was a habitual smoker untill he paid the price with the loss of a lung. But as far as the drinking goes, you got the man wrong, Shootister. I have the proof in print to back it up. You tend to think that we are a touchy group. Have you considered that we have one nerve and you do your best to jump all over it? I may and hope I am wrong about you. I always give people the benefit of doubt. You just tend to bring out the beast in people. Maybe you are the type who likes a good fight. Who knows. I am not looking for a fight in words, just wanted to voice a feeling. We are here to honor and enjoy Duke with others who feel as we do. What say we all have a drink and get along. lol dukefan1

The Shootister
June 6th, 2003, 05:21 AM
Thats fine by me Duke Fan, I still think there was a severe problem with The dukes drinking habits and alot of my friends who dont come on this messageboard and are duke fans agree with me on this point, i wont be lame enough to ask them to sign up either unless they decide to im not the type of person who asks people to sign into a messageboard and say so and so to make me look good or prove a point.

Ive said what i felt and feel ive backed it up with adequate evidence the facts are well in my favour and this old attitude of well it was up to him and he might have had a drink and a smoke now and again is not good enough.

Im not running anyone down but this is my overall point to much of the high life and too much money and too much booze and smoking killed the duke prematurely.

June 6th, 2003, 09:10 AM
hi shootister,

well we now know a lot about binge drinking and its affects but this may not have been know back then. the conection between drinking and cancer was not know till after the damage had been done to duke so there was not a lot he could do to change the outcome, but it is a lesson for all of us to take heed of and to watch what we do with our lives so yes it is a sad fact that he binged drunk and got cancer but did you also know the once a cancer patient is opened up for an op this helps it the rapid spread of it i know this from experience as my husband died of cancer and he didn't smoke and rarely had a drink.

yes you have the evidence to back up yourself but we can't change the past but just learn from it now and in the future yes the good living can kill but most do it now adays with other drugs as well as smoking and drinking so we haven't learnt that much then have we.

keep us on our toes

cheers smokey

June 6th, 2003, 12:37 PM
Does it make a difference in how you feel about John Wayne? I never heard he was unable to shoot a scene or make an appearance. Are any of our lives any more perfect than his. I have not seen a booking photo of John Wayne, or that he admitted himself into a drug rehabilitaion center.

Was John Wayne perfect? no. But I don't think his personal life reflected adversly on his professional life. Would any of you be ashamed to call John Wayne dad or son? Its time to get back to what made him so different from the thousands of other actors who never made it. A man whose movies carried a moral judgement of ethics and values. We all know that John Wayne sufferred from chronic intense pain.

Hondo Duke Lane
June 6th, 2003, 06:40 PM
Hey everyone,

Hondo here. I have really read and enjoyed the comments by everyone here on this thread. There is a lot of passion with this and I am so glad to be here among all of you here.

Shootister, your insight was deep in thought and I appreciate your posts. Alcohol probably was a contributing factor to stomach cancer. Duke quit smoking after the lung operation in 1964. He only had a half of a lung left, and he knew that the contributing factor in that cancer was his smoking habit.

Your points are right on, and you might feel that he had a drinking problem. I accept your perception. Most of us on the other hand do not feel he had a drinking problem. We all do agree that he drank heavily, and got out of hand at times, but no one ever said, he drank while working on pictures. And in AA (Alcohol Anonymous) they acknowledge that you become an alcoholic with your first drink. That is not competely true. I have known a lot of people who took their first drink and didn't become an alcoholic from that drink, and didn't die from alcohol. They are a great organization, and helped many with the problem. But they are not always accurate.

I am not debating this program, so lets not get on this wagon. This is only my opinion, and no I did not participate in AA. I work with youth who have worked this program. I am very supportive with this program.

Going back to your question. No, I do not think he had a drinking problem. That is only my opinion, and while reading many books, and listening to others, my conclusion is that. I hope you can appreciate my opinion, while we don't agree on this issue. And I know that you may be right, but only God knows and maybe Duke did too.

Hondo :rolleyes:

June 7th, 2003, 03:19 AM

You are a chick with pretty strong views; that is fairly evident. You also seem like a person who appreciates other people's views as long as they are the right ones. ie:(the same as yours) Everyone knows that smoking 6 packs of ciggarettes a day is unhealthy. As for the drinking however, I gotta say that you are out of your jurisdiction. Take me for example. For years I cowboy'd for a living. I would sometimes go one or two or three months without a drink; but when things settled down me and the boys would go and get lit up pretty good. Sometimes for a week. Then we would work for another month or three and not think twice about the
(DEMON RUM). So my point is: Know from whence you speak before you go telling everybody that they are wrong. I would think that you would have learned by now.

Northerner. ;)

Hondo Duke Lane
June 7th, 2003, 09:29 PM

Thanks for the complement of Duke Heads. I like the concept. Rush Limbaugh has his Ditto Heads that was started by a liberal, and there are millions in the group today. Being a Duke Head is the highest form of flattery that I've ever heard. And I for one do accept this title with the highest regard.

Take Care,
Duke Head,
Hondo B)

The Shootister
June 8th, 2003, 08:14 AM
Thanks Hondo Luke I appreciate what your saying and feel you have contributed the most realistic, reasonable and honest opinions on this topic so far. I agree with alot of what you are saying, I know the duke never let himself down by drinking on set. And I agree with you that many people dont become alcoholics with there first drink. But if someone drinks alot does that not mean they have a problem with it regardless of wheter it affects there work or not.

Oh Yeah Can I add im not a chick either,

Thanks Hondo for your words of encouargement.

June 11th, 2003, 08:52 AM
Mrs. Chester feels a response welling up in her . . .

Itdo, you say, "So I for one won't think every time I see him rolling a cigarette in a western or smoking a cigar in a war movie - oh, no Duke, if you woulda stopped that we coulda gotten out one more movie out of you!"

I've got to tell you, I do cringe every time (well, maybe not every time) I see him with a cigarette in his hand or mouth in a movie, because I have a seven year old who looks up to the Duke (announced when he was three, "I a cowboy! I John Wayne!"). I do think all those cigarettes eventually killed him, maybe earlier than he might otherwise have died (maybe not). So it's not that we didn't get "one more movie out of" him, but I am sad that he abused his body that way.

Shootister, among other things, you say, "Come on people duke heads is a complimentery gesture . . . . But im afraid in hollywood not everyone drinks and smokes that much that it has a final effect on there life look at clint same age as the duke and still going strong."

I apologize if Chester and I misinterpreted your use of the phrase "duke heads." All I can say about that one - we'll try not to be so sensitive in the future :rolleyes: , and will take it in the spirit in which you intended it.

Regarding other's use of substances in the Hollywood arena, certainly nowadays, it is not as politically correct to smoke (there was quite a flap when Nicole Kidman lit up during an interview in Cannes a few weeks ago), and certainly nowadays there are plenty of stars who not only abuse alcohol but other drugs as well, and it has affected their lives (and the lives of those who mimic them) - it seems the Betty Ford Clinic is going strong. True, Clint Eastwood is 73 and still going strong, and I'm sure he never smoked packs of cigarettes a day (don't know if he smokes more than the occasional cigar).

So anyway, those are just a few of my thoughts on the subject.

"Mrs." Chester

The Shootister
June 11th, 2003, 05:04 PM
Thanks Mrs Chester

I totally agree with everything you say perhaps some people took me up wrong on this topic but it was just the way i felt i cringe every time i see john with a fag or hear about his drinking contests, because i can only imagine how horrible a death stomach and lung cancer may have been.

Youve hit the nail right on the head i feel mrs chester cheers.

June 21st, 2003, 01:54 AM
Shootister, I saw John with a fag to. I think it was 'Undefeated'

Jay J. Foraker
May 6th, 2005, 11:30 AM
This falls under ancient topics -
I've gone through the posts here about JW's bouts with cancer (and supposed causes, which can really only be speculative) and did not find any mention of the set of "The Conqueror," where virtually all of the people on that set in Utah came came down with some form of cancer, some losing their life at an comparitively early age. The location shooting was downwind of where atomic tests were being done at the time.

Some of those affected - Dick Powell, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and several others whose names I don't recall at this point.

This is speculative too! But the probability of so many people involved with the filming coming down with cancer within the decade following is rather slim unless the atomic tests are entered into the equation. Just some food for thought.

Cheers - Jay :mellow:

May 6th, 2005, 03:56 PM
Hi jay,

Guess i'm following you around some of the old posts too!
Don' forget poor Pedro Amendariz!
You can of course make that a total of 91 people, who came down with the big C,
later in their lives, 3 times the normal figure.
Out of the 220 people, that Dick Powell brought to St, George, Utah, in 1954. that's the number, who suffered fatally, in later life !!

May 6th, 2005, 04:10 PM
In addition, to my more serious earlier post.
Harry Carey Jnr. in his book, quotes Duke has saying,
That a man's not a man, unless he drinks!
I'll drink to that!! The hell I well!

May 6th, 2005, 09:26 PM
I wonder if there has been a study of the local residents of St. George's Utah, to see if those living around there during the testing had an unusally greater propensity towards cancer than the norm.

Chester :newyear: