Joseph Stalin was no fan of John Wayne
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was so outraged at the anti-communism of film star John Wayne that he plotted to have him murdered, according to a new biography of the American actor.
“John Wayne -- The Man Behind the Myth” by British writer and actor Michael Munn says that there were several attempts in the late 1940s and early 1950s to kill the man known to audiences around the world as “Duke.”
In the first attempt, two Russian assassins posing as FBI agents tried to kill Wayne -- born Marion Morrison on May 26, 1907 -- in his office at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank.
But the plot was uncovered and the would-be killers captured, the book says, citing several sources, including the late director Orson Welles.
The book says the Soviet plots were canceled after Stalin’s death in 1953 by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, who was a fan of the larger-than-life star of more than 100 films.
But it says American communist groups took up the cudgels against Wayne, who was a supporter of the anti-communist witch hunt led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, citing an attempt in Mexico on the set of the film “Hondo.”
Wayne survived these attempts and another by a sniper during a trip to visit American troops in Vietnam in 1966. He eventually died of cancer in 1979.