A nation of moviegoers came to know Morrison as John Wayne. To the
townspeople here, the Duke's on-screen, all-American ethos reflects
Winterset's wholesome, small-town feel.
"I think we've embraced
it, his legacy," said Kathy Norman, who owns a downtown coffee shop.
"This is a nice place, a very welcoming place. John Wayne -- he sort
of shares the values of the town, I guess."
Thousands are expected to pour into town for the festivities and
to see the tiny white clapboard house where the Hollywood legend was
born on May 26, 1907. Centennial organizers have received RSVPs from
as far away as Norway and Denmark.
Winterset is planning a celebration befitting the celebrity
cowboy's larger-than-life persona.
The celebration was to begin Friday in the town square movie
theater with free showings of "True Grit," for which Wayne won an
Academy Award in 1969, and "Stagecoach," the 1939 John Ford
said to have made Wayne a major movie star.
Among the planned events:
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Appearances by at
least three of Wayne's former co-stars: Dean Smith, Edward
Faulkner and Gregg Palmer. The actors appeared with Wayne in
such movies as "Rio Bravo," "Chisom" and "The Green Berets."
trick riders and a rodeo drill team.
Although he died nearly 28 years ago at age 72, Wayne still
fascinates many people, said David Trask, chairman of the John Wayne
"John Wayne was an American icon," he said. "I believe he
characterizes that more than anyone or anything."
Trask is leading an effort to build an 8,500-square foot, $5.5
million museum dedicated to Wayne.
The number of events and Wayne's popularity have local officials
girding for as many as 30,000 visitors throughout the Memorial Day
"People really love John Wayne," said resident Jere Busenbarrick,
who came to appreciate the devotion of Wayne fans through an
encounter with an Australian hitchhiker on a central Iowa road.
"This guy, he'd come over here -- broken off from his tour --
just to visit," Busenbarrick recalled. "Turns out he was the
president of the John Wayne fan club in Melbourne, Australia. He
took the Amtrak out here from San Francisco."
from file received from AP
Digital; article by Henry C. Jackson, Associated Press writer]