Code of the American Cowboy … John Wayne Style

Give Me A Texas Outlaw Bundle with Give Me A Cowboy

Fellow Filly, Linda Broday, and I just finished up a month’s booksigning tour for our newest anthology, “Give Me a Texas Outlaw”.  We spent a lot of time up in the Liberal, Kansas area. We were the hottest act in town. Thanks Liberal!

One of our visits was to the famous Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade, Kansas, where we were met and welcomed by none other than the charming Doc Holliday.  I’m adding a picture as proof of our adventure which was very interesting. Seeing Doc Holliday through the eyes of the curator Marc Ferguson was most mesmerizing, but I’ll save the Doc and the Dalton Gang Hideout for another blog.

A few months ago, I blogged on the Code of the West, using a fairly common interpretation of the code.

One of the most interesting things Doc Holliday showed us was the best known cowboy in America John Wayne’s eulogy spoken at his funeral by his son, Patrick Wayne.  One thing that most people recognize about the heroic cowboy was that no matter how famous he became, he lived by his own Code of the West.

It’s  my pleasure to share the eulogy and John Wayne’s Code of the American Cowboy.

  1. A cowboy does not judge color of skin, but by character within.
  2. A cowboy always respects a lady and tips his hat to all that pass him.
  3. A cowboy stands strong for what the American Frontier is all about.  Freedom, truth, justice and the American way.
  4. A cowboy will not be wronged, nor wrong another. The justice he deems out depends on that.
  5. A cowboy is loyal and hard working and maintains a high ethic.
  6. A cowboy loves his country, and will fight for its principals and sovereignty.
  7. A cowboy respects his animals and the earth they roam upon.
  8. A cowboy is faithful to what is entrusted to him.
  9. A cowboy is bound by duty, honor and gratitude for what God has given him, which includes his family and friends.

10.  A cowboy maintains a hidden code in his heart, for all to see.

I found a few facts on John Wayne that I didn’t know.

His birth name was Marion Morrison. Although his father was a pharmacist Wayne’s parents moved from Iowa to the Mojave Desert and tried their hand at ranching. That’s where he and his little brother, Robert swam in irrigation ditches and rode horses to school.  After failure at ranching, his family moved to Glendale, California, where Wayne delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers and had an Airedale dog named “Duke” … where he got his nickname.

John Wayne was bright, did well in school both academically and in football.  He narrowly missed acceptance to Annapolis, so he went to USC on a football scholarship from 1925-27.  Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. (Bet, he couldn’t get by with that today.) On the set he became friends with director John Ford for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, thus the birth of John Wayne.  His first featured film was in 1930 “Men Without Women”, where he went on to make about 70 low-budget westerns while his career basically bogged down in the mud.  In 1939, Ford cast Wayne in “Stagecoach” the movie that made him a star.  He appeared in over 250 movies, many of epic proportion.

His conservative stance was reflected in his producing, directing and staring in “The Alamo” in 1960; while his patriotic stand was enshrined in “The Green Berets” in 1968, which he co-directed and also stared in.

John Wayne won an Oscar for his role as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit” in 1969; and in 1979 he received a Congressional Gold Medal  But, he is best remember for his parts in Ford’s cavalry trilogy, “Fort Apache”, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, and “Rio Grande”.

A true cowboy spirit, won’t back up for nothing.

What is your favorite John Wayne movie?

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

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25 thoughts on “Code of the American Cowboy … John Wayne Style”

  1. Phyliss,

    Great post! The picture with Doc is wonderful. Guess he was your huckleberry that day. :o)

    It’s hard to pick a favorite John Wayne movie, but I’d have to say McLintock ranks right up there. I also like The Cowboys (up until the unmentionable happens).

  2. I can imagine you and Linda as the hottest act in town, Phyliss. Love the photo with Doc, who actually looks like the photos I’ve seen of the real guy.
    John Wayne will stand tall forever as a cowboy. But my favorite JW movie has to be “The Quiet Man.” Can’t say I love the way he treated poor Maureen O’Hara, but it was still a wonderful film.

  3. Phyliss, that was a fun trip. We sure had a blast. And many thanks to Tom who showed us such a good time. Also thanks to Marc for giving us that private presentation of Doc. Everyone we met was truly so warm and friendly. The Kansas people really rolled out the red carpet for two Texas fillies.

    I love John Wayne and can’t imagine anyone ever replacing him. Rooster Cogburn is high on my list of favorites. Loved him with Katherine Hepburn! Those two were a quite a pair. Rio Bravo is another one that I’ll watch over and over.

  4. I have to agree with Elizabeth. I loved “The Quiet Man” even though it wasn’t a western. In fact, my latest novel’s hero was an ex-prizefighter like John Wayne’s character in that movie and the Duke lent quite a bit of inspiration to my story.

    Thanks for a great post!!

  5. Hi Kristen, thanks for dropping by so early. I’m like you about not having a favorite John Wayne movie. I like ‘um all.

    Elizabeth, it was amazing how Marc got into character the second he saw us and stayed there throughout our visit. He’s amazing. And, it was hot all three days we were there; and before then, we’d been in Wichita Falls at around 113. John Wayne will always be the ultimate cowboy! Thanks for stopping by, fellow filly. Hugs, P

  6. Hi Phyliss,

    Thank you for doing this post. I love John Wayne. I would have to say that I love all his movies, all rank the same to me. McLintock was a great one though/ I love the picture and I love Doc Holiday too. Yes, I have to admit I go around saying I will be your huckleberry. I love Tombstone

    Well have a great day

    Walk in harmony,

  7. John Wayne is always been my hero.. in the movies..But he also lived by a certain code, like those you quoted.
    I could not pick a fav of John Wayne western movies, but I would say some of the ones at the top of my list are:
    McClintock, Chisum, Rio Grande, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo..
    My non western would be The Quiet Man.. I think this is the movie that really made him a leading man in the movies..

  8. Great post! This sounds like a very fun trip would love to do something like that. I can’t say I had a favorite John Wayne movie because I enjoyed them all. My father was always big into western so we watched a lot of them. I have gotten to where western romance is my favorite read anymore but I read a little of everything. I can’t wait to read Give Me a Texas Outlaw.

  9. It’s a toss-up between “The Searchers” and “Rio Bravo.” John Wayne overlooks me while I write. I have a statue of him in my office that was originally part of a window display at the Houston Trunk Factory. I made them an offer they didn’t refuse for the statue and it’s been with me ever since. :o)

  10. Thanks for an interesting post.
    I don’t know that I have a big favorite John Wayne movie, although I am partial to TRUE GRIT.

    His characters were pretty much the same in most of his movies in the sense that his characters followed the code you listed above.

    MCLINTOCK and A QUIET MAN are favorites, but so not politically correct in his treatment of women. There is such a generational component to what was accepted behavior towards women and the swaggering macho image he projected. He and Maureen O’Hara were such a great pair on screen.

  11. Linda and Karen, my fellow Fillies, glad you could stop by today. “The Quiet Man” sounds like a movie I’ll have to check into because I’m embarassed to say that I don’t remember it. Karen, your book sounds fabulous; and Linda, we sure did have fun, didn’t we? Except for the heat. I hope you both have a great day. Hugs, P

  12. Just a tidbit of local history of John Wayne: he attended kindergarten and first grade at the school where I teach and is in class pictures at the local museum. (Brooklyn, Iowa) 🙂 His father worked at the pharmacy in town.

    ANY John Wayne movie is a great movie. My husband loves his war/military movies. Our fave westerns are “True Grit” and “McClintock”.

  13. Melinda and Kathleen, I agree with McClintock, and when I look at today’s “heros” and how they are letting everyone down, I’m so thankful that my era, as well as my daughters’, was influenced by someone like John Wayne. I found his “Code” so interesting and really thank Mac (Doc Holiday, ooops) for giving me a copy. Hugs, P

  14. Quilt Lady, I think many of our fathers were into westerns. Mine was, too. I hope you enjoy “Give Me a Texas Outlaw” and let us know what you think about it. We’ve received very good reviews; and for me personally, I stepped a little bit out of my comfort zone to write Dakota, but I think he turned out exactly like I wanted. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, P

  15. I love this post, Phyliss. I love the code and I’ve always loved John Wayne. I wish we still lived by that code all over America today. Would sure solve many problems wouldn’t it?

  16. John Wayne has always been my hero!
    It is so hard to pick a favorite, but would have to say North To Alaska.

  17. Devon, I love your story about the statue!!! How inspiring. I’m a real believer in keeping things around you in your office that enspires me to write. You wouldn’t belive the “stuff” (for lack of a more expressive word LOL) I have around me, and probably I’m the only one who knows why its there! Hi Crystal and Patricia. Good to hear from you girls.

    Deb, how neat. At first I thought you said he attended the same kindergarten as “you” and I thought, WOW! Then I realized you said you taught … which impressed me even more. I’m a bit soft hearted when it comes to teachers. If it wasn’t for a special teacher, I wouldn’t be writing today. As a matter of fact, two teachers.

    Hope you all have a great evening. Hugs, P

  18. Kay, I couldn’t agree with you more. Life would be so much better for everyone if we lived by even part of the code of the west.

    Vicki, love “Rio Bravo”, too. Just too many movies to remember.

    Thanks sister fillies for taking the time to stop by and read my blog. I know how busy each of the fillies are, so really appreciate it.

    Hugs, Phyliss

  19. Oh Estella, I’d forgotten about “North to Alaska”. That’s a good one, too. Thanks for coming by and reading my blog today.

    Hope I didn’t miss anyone. I try to reply to every person’s comments, but don’t always make it, so if I missed you and you noticed LOL, I’m sorry.

    Everyone please have a enjoyable evening with whatever you are doing, and please keep others around you in your prayers…we never know what our neighbors and friends are going through.

    Love to all, P

  20. It was my pleasure to host you and Linda and show you around some of the local west.

    How about five Wayne movies;

    Quite Man-John Ford directed, you can still actually take tours to the locations in Ireland, Wayne and O’Hara waited for several years to make it for Ford.

    The Searchers, John Ford again, a great character for Wayne, actually the character is a bit of a bigot, but redeems himself at the end, based very losely on the story of Quanna Parkers mother.

    Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Ford again, Lee Marvin as a bad guy, Jimmy Stewart, O’Hara again, who endes up with Stewart. “When legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Wbhich could be said of Fords films.

    She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Ford again, cavalry pic, great supporting cast.

    Stagecoach, the one that made Wayne a star.

  21. Sorry to be getting here late, Phyliss. What a wonderful blog. I love the Searchers, North to Alaska, but McClintock is probably my favorite. Although it’s not a Western, The Quiet Man is very dear to my heart. I did four blogs on variations of the cowboy code at the LASR anniversary party last Sunday and got a lot of good responses. Good post, my dear!

  22. My favorite John Wayne movie is “Rio Bravo!” John Wayne, Dean Martin, a VERY young Ricky Nelson and Howard Hawkes (Stumpy) were excellent! It wouldn’t have been that great tho without Ricky and Howard’s smart alec comments about everything tho!

    Colorado (Ricky)
    I speak english sheriff if you wanna ask me!
    Well now if its the 2 guns that bother ya I can give ya one of em. I can letchya have em both. The fella in the door has a shotgun on me!

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