Died This Day In LA: John Wayne
The Oscar-winning, cinematic epitome of brawny, weathered manliness with 172 films to his credit, John Wayne, "The Duke," died of stomach cancer at UCLA Medical Center at the age of 72 on June 11, 1979. Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison in 1907 Iowa, moved to Glendale in 1911 where his father was a pharmacist, according to Wikipedia.
His grave in Corona del Mar's Pacific View Memorial Park, unmarked for two decades, now reads, "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday," taken from a racially and politically controversial 1971 Playboy interview.
91 of the 220 people shooting on location near St. George, Utah during the 1956 filming of The Conqueror eventually developed some form of cancer. While the rate of illness is in line with the rate of illness in the general population, many claimed the set location, downwind from a government nuclear testing site in Southeastern Nevada, was to blame. The Duke believed his cancer had more to do with the six packs of cigarrettes he smoked per day.