John Wayne Was Here

The Film Locations and Favorite Places of an American Icon


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About the Book

John Wayne worked on film sets around the globe. This book follows the trail, from his beginnings on the Fox backlot to his final filming in Lone Pine, California. Locations in Mexico, Normandy, Rome, Madrid, London, Ireland, Libya and Africa are covered, along with his favorite vacation spots in Hawaii, Acapulco, Greece, Monaco, and the Hollywood hot-spots he frequented. Anecdotes revisit his most famous scenes, including Rooster Cogburn’s charge in True Grit (1969) and Davy Crockett’s last stand in The Alamo (1960). Production details describe how San Diego stood in for Iwo Jima, how Old Tucson was turned into El Dorado, and how Genghis Kahn ruled over the deserts of Utah. Never before published photos present then-and-now views in this first of its kind guided tour for film location hunters and Wayne aficionados.

About the Author(s)

Roland Schaefli has been a writer for movie magazines and a journalist for various news media for 30 years. He has published several books, including a travel guide on European film locations. He lives in Gachnang, Switzerland.

Bibliographic Details

Roland Schaefli

Foreword by Chris Mitchum

Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 319
Bibliographic Info: 422 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8006-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4127-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Chris Mitchum  1
Preface: “Desert’s still the same”  2
Introduction: “What makes a man to wander…?”  5
1. The Big Trail: “We can’t turn back” 15
2. Hollywood: Home Off the Range 26
3. Shooting Star of the Golden State: California Straight Ahead! 40
4. Ireland: “Peace and quiet came to Innisfree” 58
5. Monument Valley: “Let’s go home, Debbie” 68
6. Military Bases: “Just wanted to say hello to the boys” 78
7. Hatari! Big Bwana’s Bootprints in Africa 97
8. Utah: “The Gobi Desert seethed with unrest” 106
9. The Studio Backlots: A Tree Is a Tree 116
10. Durango: South of the Border 133
11. Exotic Places: East of the Divide 149
12. Normandy: ­D-Day for the Duke 157
13. Arizona: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch 167
14. Hawaii: “Does the word aloha make you warm?” 174
15. Venture Abroad: “Got a great idea: European tour” 183
16. Road Trip: Wayne’s Way to Work 198
17. Two Roosters: Patching It Up 209
18. Beaches and Bridges: Duke’s Detectives 219
19. Without Reservations: “What do I have?” 229
20. The Western Towns: From Rio Bravo to Carson City 239
21. The Lost Locations: Winds of the Wasteland 253
22. And the Hunter Home from the Hill: “A place to live and a place to die…” 269
Chapter Notes  287
Bibliography  299
Index  303

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Schaefli has gifted the geekiest of John Wayne geeks with this unique travelogue-cum-biography and gossip tabloid narrative hybrid that comprehensively covers practically every significant location that the actor ever visited…Schaefli assiduously follows Wayne’s travel[s]…Juxtaposed with the globe-trotting is an impressive glut of stories and filmland gossip that will entertain the most devoted Wayne fans. …a dead-on, obligatory purchase for the John Wayne completist.”—Library Journal
  • “Schaefli takes readers on a cinematic journey that spans Hollywood’s history as well as the globe. …previously unpublished photographs will please the most ardent film fans, and a bibliography extensive enough to satisfy serious students of film history. This is a mother lode for diehard Wayne and western-film fans.”—Booklist
  • “Schaefli is a scholar of all things relating to the Duke and his films…a comprehensive look at Wayne’s international locations and their relevance to his life and career…. fascinating facts in regard to both history and the movie industry. …generously illustrated…If you’re a Wayne fan saddle up, stop burnin’ daylight and add this worthy volume to your collection.”—Cinema Retro
  • “I had to let you know what a treat your John Wayne Was Here has been for my summer. I’ve read a LOT of books on John Wayne but few I’ve enjoyed like your work which resonates so closely with this student of the filmography. Besides enjoying the well-researched text, I loved seeing many pictures of the Duke (again, I’ve seen a lot) that I’d never seen before. Give yourself a big pat on the back from me for this worthy accomplishment.”— Tim Lilley, author/editor of the Campfire Conversations: Tim Lilley’s Interviews with the Coworkers of John Wayne
  • “Back in my newspaper days I frequently visited and wrote about places made famous simply because John Wayne was there: Ireland of The Quiet Man, Monument Valley, True Grit’s San Juan Mountains and one memorable day-long visit with Duke himself at his Newport Beach, California home. But that mere handful of destinations does not begin to compare with the far-flung locales detailed in Roland Schaefli’s magnificent book, John Wayne Was Here. Much more than a travelog, Schaefli takes us to movie sets the world over and provides detailed production notes and then-and-now images from Wayne’s most classic films. Absolutely fascinating!”—Brian Downes, executive director, John Wayne Birthplace and Museum, Winterset, Iowa
  • “Took me months to read—and savoring every bit of it, I wish it took me way longer! Opening with a fantastic forward by actor, Chris Mitchum, the book just gets better and better. As with real estate, making a Western is all about location, location, location; and John Wayne’s pictures were shot at some of the best. John Wayne Was Here takes you around the world to the locations from many of his Western, War & Adventure films; the on-set stories that happened, who else was there, and a glimpse of what the place looks like now. The soundstage sets are gone, some of the western movie towns still exist, and the more remote locations like the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, and Monument Valley, Arizona still look just like they did when John Wayne rode across their dusty trails to be memorialized on screen forever.”—Eric H. Heisner, writer, actor & Western filmmaker
  • “Featuring exclusive photos…a must-have for fans of the star”—John Wayne Magazine