History

John Wayne’s Emotional Final Public Appearance Will Hit You Right in the Feels

By  | 

The myth he portrayed was as vast and expansive as America itself, and John Wayne’s representation of crass individualism and Old West ethics netted him the attention and respect of fans worldwide.

But by the 1970s, the Hollywood veteran was battling more than just outlaws and indians — in real life, he was battling cancer. Just three years prior to his death he was on the set of his last film, “The Shootist,” and those same ethics were on display when The Duke demanded to the director, “I’ve made over 250 pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it.”

Johnny Carson and Bob Hope introduced Wayne at the 1979 Academy Awards, his final appearance in public, to an emotional crowd that gave him a much-deserved standing ovation.

The footage is preserved on YouTube, and just watching it will make the hairs on your neck stand on end.

The actor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter posthumously in 1980, and within five years, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation was created in his name. It continues on to this day in an effort to spread his message of hope against the fight against cancer.

Watch rare footage of John Wayne’s final public appearance at the 1979 Academy Awards: