Needless to say, the book is full of inaccuracies and outright lies. Jensen is, in my opinion, a hack writer, and this book shows that. That review elicited a response from Mr. Jensen on his own blog entitled, “New John Wayne bio wrongfully attacked by Wayne zealot in blogosphere.” In that article, Mr. Jensen claims that I “launched into a tirade against the book and its author,…” Jensen then goes on to imply that I, like other fans of John Wayne, really don’t know anything about the star. Jensen implies that I am one of those “bloggers who foam at the mouth and fire off opinions masquerading as ‘facts’,” and accuses me of writing a scathing attack on him personally, and then ends his commentary on me by calling me a “chicken shit blogger.”
I have also been asked by one my blog’s followers, to explain in more detail just why Mr. Jensen’s “biography” of John Wayne is inaccurate. Aside from the obvious grammatical errors and misspelled words that abound in “When The Legend Became Fact – The True Life of John Wayne” (which leads me to believe the book was self-edited), and aside from the inaccuracies I have already pointed out (and debunked) in my previous article (link above) and in the conversation I had with “Auld Shatterhand” in the comments section of that article, (Please note that it is my belief that “Auld Shatterhand” is actually Jensen himself, and is an internet pseudonym used by Jensen to promote his own work on various websites), I would like to focus this update on the following topics found in Jensen’s book, which I will answer individually.
Jensen claims that John Wayne was:
1. “a severe alcoholic…” No one will deny that John Wayne drank, and often to excess, but drinking alcohol does not make one an alcoholic. In fact, there are numerous accounts of John Wayne being able to consume prodigious amounts of alcohol with little to no effect. There are numerous accounts of him refusing to drink while working. There are numerous accounts where those who knew him stated that although he enjoyed drinking, he never needed alcohol. Yet, Jensen claims that Wayne was in fact an alcoholic, in spite there being no evidence to support that Wayne was, in fact, an alcoholic. Jensen is voicing his opinion as a fact, and as a lawyer he should know better.
2. “a committed male chauvinist.”If Jensen defines chauvinism as displaying proper manners toward women, then I will concede this point. If, however, he is claiming that John Wayne demeaned women, and was discriminatory toward women, then I will argue this with him as there is no evidence to support this claim of his. Again, Jensen is presenting his opinion as a fact.
3. “a suave adulterer and seducer of women.” Presenting his opinions as factual statements seems to be a theme with Jensen, as once again there is no evidence to support this statement. Did John Wayne have an extramarital affair when he was married to Josephine? Yes. This is common knowledge. Is there evidence that proves he ever had another extramarital affair? No. And yet Jensen implies here that Wayne seduced more and one, and he makes this implication without any proof whatsoever.
4. “He assaulted friends and coworkers alike and his lovers and spouses as well.”I have read numerous biographies about John Wayne, written by friends, family fans and critics. Biographies both complimentary and uncomplimentary and nowhere have I ever read anything like this. To state categorically that John Wayne physically assaulted all these people, and to do so without any proof, is nothing short of libel, and yet that does not seem to prevent Jensen from making such sensationalistic unproven claims.
5. “he was distant and superficial with all of his children.”Again, Jensen is presenting his opinion as if it were incontrovertible fact.
6. “He deserted his first batch of children to marry a prostitute…”Although there have been claims made that Wayne’s second wife was a prostitute, it has never been proven. Yet Jensen presents this as fact. If Jensen had actually researched as he claims he has done (for 30 years according to Jensen), then he would have known that Wayne and Josephine separated for several years before he met and later married his second wife Esperanza Bauer. During that period of separation, Wayne was always a part of his children’s lives. He did not desert them, and he certainly did not desert them to “marry a prostitute.”
7. “In the last decade of his life, he took out his rage at his own failing health on his second batch of children.” And yet again Jensen presents his opinion as if it were an actual fact. As often as he does this, I have to wonder if he is able to tell the difference between the two.
8. “How the media inserted the middle name of Michael is anybody’s guess.” No one has to guess Mr. Jensen. John Wayne himself used the name Marion Michael Morrison, and he did so on at least one official government document. His family also used this name on occasion in reference to him. This is documented and has been common knowledge for several years.
9. “Duke portrayed characters who grabbed and rough-housed with women, often even slugging them…”Over the years I have watched, repeatedly, every John Wayne film that has ever been released on VHS and DVD, as well as several that have never been officially released. In only two of John Wayne’s almost 200 known film appearances (Donovan’s Reef and McLintock), he spanked his leading lady. I do not recall a single instance where a John Wayne character slugged a woman, much less “often” doing so. And to make the implication (as Jensen does here) that any abusive traits of a film character is proof that the actual person engaged in such abuse, well, if he was in court making that implication I am sure the judge would not allow it!
10. “His first and second wife both filed for divorce claiming that Duke had engaged in physical abuse, and his third wife admitted years after his death that Duke had bloodied her lips when he slugged her at a party.” Duke and Josie began living separate lives in 1942 when Duke moved out of their home, due to the obvious differences between the two of them. Josie was a sophisticated, cultured, and intelligent socialite. Although he was also intelligent and well read, Duke was a kid at heart. The fact of the matter is, the two of them should never have gotten married. Josie could not stand his Hollywood friends or his long hours at work. Although they lived apart, Wayne still cared for Josie and his children, and continued to support them. When it became clear that they would not reconcile their differences, Josie filed for a legal separation on June 4, 1943, and finally a divorce at the end of 1944. The divorce was granted in December 1945. Josie claimed in her divorce proceedings that Duke’s affairs since they had been apart were to her “extreme cruelty” and which caused her “physical and mental suffering.” At no time did Josephine Saenz Wayne accuse John Wayne of physical abuse. Neither did his third wife Pilar. In fact, it was only his second wife, Esperanza Bauer who had made unsubstantiated claims of physical abuse during their divorce proceedings. Claims she could not prove.
11. “There is a legend that Duke’s first film appearance was in the 1927 football melodrama The Drop Kick, starring Richard Barthelmess. … The timing seems unlikely, as by 1927 Duke was a full-time prop man at Fox.” This is a ridiculous claim by Jensen. Not only did John Wayne work on The Drop Kick in 1927, he appears on-screen and is clearly visible and identifiable. It is not a “legend” as Jensen claims, it is a provable fact.
Regarding John Wayne’s parents, Clyde and Mary Morrison, as well as Wayne’s childhood, Jensen writes:
1. “Clyde was able to buy his own pharmacy in nearby Earlham.” … “They [the Morrison’s] owned a large house at 328 Ohio Street,…” Before leaving Iowa, Clyde’s father, Marion Mitchell Morrison, loaned Clyde the money to make a down payment on a pharmacy located in Earlham, Iowa. This was a down payment only, and it was only for the business/building, not the property the business sat upon. That pharmacy failed, and Clyde never fully owned it. As for the house at 328 Ohio Street in Earlham, Iowa, the Morrison’s only rented it, they did not purchase it, nor would they have been able to afford to purchase any home at that time. Later, after moving to Glendale, California, Clyde was twice able to place a down payment on a home, but lost them both within a year of purchase. These were the only times that the Morrison’s would ever “own” a home.
2. “the Morrisons [sic] screamed at – and often hit – each other with such vitriol… Marion grew up to be just like his father, engaging in…relationships that degenerated into…hitting matches.” Clyde did not hit his wife, nor is there any evidence to support Jensen’s claim to the contrary. Yes, the couple argued. That has been substantiated. Yes, their arguments sometimes became heated and loud, and that too has been substantiated. But it was never claimed by anyone I am aware of (other than Jensen), nor is there any evidence that proves, that Clyde ever hit his wife Mary. Nor is there any evidence to support Jensen’s claim that John Wayne hit his spouses.
3. “Clyde developed a cough that doctors allegedly diagnosed as tuberculosis. … It is likely that Clyde did not have tuberculosis. …What is more likely is Clyde suffered from the ravages of his three pack-a-day cigarette habit…” In reading Jensen’s biographies located around the web (and all likely written by Jensen himself), no where does it mention that Jensen is also a doctor. That he can tell the difference between tuberculosis and COPD without ever actually seeing the patient seems hardly likely.
4. “Clyde was not as bankrupt as legend tells it, because upon arrival [in California] Clyde bought 80 acres of desert.” Clyde did not purchase any acreage for farming in the California desert. The 80 acre farm was purchased by Marion Mitchell Morrison, Clyde’s father.
5. “the Morrisons [sic]… eventually gave up farming and moved an hour south to Burbank Township,” and later “lived with their parents at 404 North Isabel Street [Glendale].” … “During the near decade that the Morrisons [sic] lived there, they moved from house to house in and around Burbank and later Glendale, never owning another home.” The Morrison’s did not move to Burbank, they moved to Glendale in 1916, where they lived at 421 North Isabel, a rental unit. During the family’s time in Glendale, they lived at the following addresses: small rental cottage on Reynolds Street, an small rental cottage on Louise Street, 315 South Geneva – rental unit, 443 West Colorado – rental unit, 404 North Isabel – purchased in 1918 and lost the same year, a small apartment above the Glendale Pharmacy where Clyde worked, 815 South Central – rental unit, 129 South Kenwood – rental unit, 237 South Orange – rental unit, 207 West Windsor – rental unit, 313 Garfield (purchased in 1920, lost in 1921), and finally 815 east Garfield in 1921 – a rental unit. After this, Duke left for USC. At no time did the family live in Burbank.
6. “Clyde’s fortunes further deteriorated until his son became famous and leant his father the money to buy a small drugstore.” Again, Jensen places forth an unsubstantiated guess with no basis in fact, and calls it a fact. This never happened.
Jensen goes on to make many, many more mistakes and outright lies in his book about John Wayne, and there are just two more regarding John Wayne that I would like to address here. Jensen’s implications that John Wayne was a terrible football player and that John Wayne was gay.
1. Richard Jensen makes the claim that John Wayne was over rated as a football player, and really wasn’t all that good. He writes, “The end of Duke’s football career at USC has for years been blamed on a freak accident. The story went like this: During a day spent body surfing at the beach, enormous waves slammed Duke into the sand with such ferocity that the muscles in his right shoulder were torn. He was knocked unconscious and washed ashore his lungs full of water. … By the time he reached a doctor his right shoulder was badly swollen. The doctor told him the muscles and ligaments were torn. He recommended months of rest and forbade Duke from playing football. Duke returned to USC and said nothing to his coaches. He went on practicing, slamming his shoulder unrelentingly. He bound his shoulder with tape and a harness and kept playing. … It was good year for USC, and Duke saw lots of action on the field. But the jig was up. Duke was too injured to play. Coach Howard Jones kept Duke on the team so he could get his football letter, but he benched him.… This has been the legend of John Wayne’s demise as a USC football player.
There is one detractor who believed that Duke was actually booted from the USC team because he was, quite frankly, a terrible player. (Munn, 18). Woody Strode, the first black actor to achieve acclaim as an action star, and a former professional football player with the Los Angeles Rams, said that Duke was a terrible runner. He took issue with the legend that Duke was benched for a mere shoulder injury, something that was unheard of even in the 1920s. … Strode’s stellar football career … likely colors Strode’s opinion of Duke’s athleticism. That said, there is film evidence to back Strode’s opinion. During the first five years of his film career, one of the most difficult hurdles for Duke to overcome was the simple act of running. In his early films he runs awkwardly, almost girly, wind-milling his forearms. Director George Sherman said Duke “could never run particularly fast.”... Indeed, it was a decade before Wayne could move quickly on film without flailing. Strode’s statements can not [sic] be completely ignored,…”
So Jensen is claiming that John Wayne was never very good at football, and he uses this story by Woody Strode as evidence to support this claim. Interestingly, however, only a few pages before, Jensen noted that: “[Howard] Jones was familiar with the stellar record of Glendale High’s football team, and he wanted to recruit as many players from the school as he could, and especially Duke Morrison. The school began an all-out push, sending Hardy Elliott, a member of the varsity squad and a pre-law major to try and convince Duke – and his parents – that USC was the best place for Duke to attend school and play football. Elliott invited Duke on a cruise to Catalina Island where he met Elliott’s Sigma Chi fraternity brothers. Elliott told Duke that he could have room and board at the fraternity house if he worked odd jobs for the fraternity.”
Does Jensen really believe that the great Howard Jones, likely one of the greatest college football coaches in the history of the game, could not tell that John Wayne was a lousy football player? Jones thought Wayne good enough to actively recruit him for the USC football team. Jones sent out one of his best recruiters to wine and dine young John Wayne, trying to get him to sign with USC. And yet, without ever having seen John Wayne actually play football, without ever having even met John Wayne, Richard Jensen is able to know without doubt that John Wayne was unable to play football very well. Given a choice, I think I will stick with Coach Jones’s decision that John Wayne was good enough for the USC Trojans, and good enough to be pursued by Howard Jones.
2. On the subject of John Wayne’s sexuality, Jensen avoids an outright claim that John Wayne engaged in homosexual relations with John Ford, but he does strongly imply it. Jensen writes, “No one knows why, but John Ford began to include handsome Duke Morrison in his social life, which consisted mostly of drinking and card games or drunken yacht trips aboard his notorious sailing yacht. Was it, as Ford claimed years later, that he thought of Duke as a son? Was it the he-man companionship found in masculine roistering? It is not entirely clear why Ford decided to include Duke in his inner circle. Only recently, Maureen O’Hara, who was Ford’s favorite leading lady for over a decade, claimed that Ford was at times in his life a practicing bisexual. She is the only one of Ford’s circle to make that charge. It was not as if Ford was trying to be a benefactor to Duke. … And yet, they spent considerable time together. Duke insisted that he reveled in the masculine company of Ford’s drinking buddies. … The men often sailed on men-only cruises on Ford’s yacht, The Araner,…”
If this isn’t an implied statement of John Wayne’s “gayness” I don’t know what is. Jensen lays out all the innuendo, “No one knows why, but John Ford began to include handsome Duke Morrison in his social life,” “Was it that he thought of Duke as a son?” “Was it the he-man companionship?” “The men often sailed on men-only cruises.” “John Ford was bisexual”, “It’s not entirely clear why Ford liked him so much.” The conclusion that Jensen wants his readers to come to is that John Wayne and John Ford were bisexual lovers. This is the only conclusion that one can possibly arrive at if following Jensen’s carefully laid out innuendo. And this is just the conclusion that Jensen wants us to arrive at, and it is nothing but pure sheep dip. There is absolutely nothing anywhere in John Wayne’s life that even hints at a homosexual or bisexual lifestyle.
This causes me to wonder why Jensen would lead his readers to this preplanned conclusion? Why does he want his readers to think John Wayne was gay? Perhaps the answer can be found right here in Jensen’s book. In the pages preceding Jensen’s implied references to John Wayne’s bisexuality, Jensen describes Wayne as “Adonis.” In fact, he does so at least four separate times. Jensen writes that John Wayne “was an Adonis,” a “strapping Adonis,” “truly a physical Adonis,” and “an Adonis of incredible looks.” Given the fact that Adonis was, in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire; coupled with the fact that it is also a gay slang term used by homosexuals to “describe a beautiful and lust worthy man”(according to the online gay slang dictionary), I would be inclined to think that Jensen is anxious to have his readers view John Wayne as gay or bisexual in order to legitimize his own gay or bisexual tendencies. As I am neither gay, nor a psychiatrist, I can only speculate and offer my opinion on this.
About the Author, Richard D. Jensen
One of Jensen’s complaints about my review of his book, is that I launched into what he calls a “tirade” against him and a “scathing attack” on him personally. If one calls factual truth a “tirade” and a “scathing attack” then so be it. But the implication Jensen makes is that what I have said is somehow untrue and possibly unrelated to the book itself – having no place in a review of his or any book. One must remember, however, that Jensen writes about himself in this book as well as about John Wayne; and just as he has made outlandish unsupported remarks about John Wayne (some of which I have pointed out), he has also made some unsupported remarks about himself in this same book. As they are in the book, I will review them as well.
Jensen claims that he “became a cowboy, rodeoed [sic] some, raised horses and drifted across the West, even working in Hollywood as an actor and writer.” He claims he arrived in Hollywood in 1978, and worked at “both Universal and Warner Brothers studios both in front of and behind the camera.” Although I really have no way of knowing just how true these statements are, I checked with the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) which is generally regarded as the most complete publically available database available when it comes to films, television, actors, actresses, crew members, etc. Under Richard Jensen’s name I found that he did indeed work as an extra on two episodes of the old television series, “The Dukes of Hazzard” in 1979/1980.
Trying to remain as objective as possible, I decided to use a different tactic, and see what others have said about him. Since Jensen wrote the book, and is obviously biased when it comes to relating to us his past achievements, I was curious to see if there are any other reviews or opinions about Mr. Jensen anywhere online. Aside from a few negative book reviews (which I related in my first review of this book), there is nothing. Period. So I decided to check out his publishers webpage. Raymond Street Publishers. They do not have a webpage, but they do have a blog, which contains a total of nine blog posts, all about Richard Jensen and the book we are talking about here.
Hmmmm? Only nine posts, and all about one author and one book. As this seemed slightly suspicious to me I decided to see just who Raymond Street Publishers is. According to the first blog post on their site, Raymond Street Publishers signed Richard Jensen to an exclusive contract. The post goes on to say that Raymond Street Publishers is a “Nashville-based publishing company recently formed by Oklahoma-based Writers of the American West, LLC.”
My search for Raymond Street Publishers revealed that it is not Nashville-based, but is actually in Alabama. In fact, it shares the same address as the writer they just signed an “exclusive contract” with. – Richard D. Jensen. Yes, Raymond Street Publishers is none other than Richard D. Jensen.
One final thing to note – as Richard Jensen the writer posted on the Richard Jensen Publisher blog (I might as well call it as it is), he went out on a media tour to promote the book. He did give the name of the radio and television stations who would be interviewing him. Out of curiosity, I located the sites and watched and listened to his interviews as he talked about his new biography of John Wayne.