Podcast Episode #14
Talking um … uh … Jimmy Stewart
The Jimmy Stewart Museum Podcast
In this previously lost interview, journalist W. Thornton “Pete” Martin (The Saturday Evening Post) talks to Jimmy at his home on July 11, 1979, shortly after the passing of John “Duke” Wayne. The two discuss Duke’s legacy, his role in maintaining the country’s morale, working with director John Ford, and his dignity even through death.
Interview copyright Pete Martin Estate and William Martin, used by permission.
To listen now, scroll to bottom.
On how John Wayne not serving in the military “squared” with his image as a red-blooded American hero:
Jimmy Stewart: “Well, I think number one, Duke was a family man. Duke had a wife and four children. He … wasn’t young, and had that responsibility …”
(cont'd): “I really haven’t thought about it very much because he … through his career and through the films he’s made and … through the position he’s taken (in) regards (to) Duke Wayne and the United States of America and the Constitution and everything, I can’t see of anybody that’s surpassed him in as far as services to his country is concerned.”
“The fact that he wasn’t … didn’t go into uniform … is … I don’t think an important thing when you think of the things that he did for the war effort, for America, uh …
Pete Martin: In what? Building morale you mean, Jimmy?
Jimmy: “This was needed. This was needed to a tremendous extent. This boosting people’s morale … traveling to camps and selling bonds and keeping sort of … keeping the whole thing based on … this was a time when the people’s love of country comes to the fore. And this is the time when people show what they’re really made of … they get in there and help with the effort. Which I think Duke did, and the fact that he wasn’t in the armed services … he did other things and other activities and kept this idea of patriotism. Everybody says, ‘Well of course, in war, uh … patriotism just naturally develops with war.’ I don’t think that’s true. It needs bolstering. It needs to be brought at the head as an important thing for the people who are coming to the aid of their country in time of need. I think Duke did that.”
Pete Martin: Do you think in a way Duke is a reflection of (John Ford's) personality and thinking ... or is it more complicated than that?
Jimmy: “I don’t think it’s complicated, I think they became very dear friends. He became like a son. And I think Duke … loved Ford and loved everything about him, and would do anything in the world for him, and was devoted …”
On John Wayne's 'The Green Berets' (1968):
Jimmy: “It was a successful picture. Ya know, it didn’t do these hundreds of millions of dollars that Jaws did about the shark eatin’ people …”
On commonalities between Duke Wayne and Gary Cooper:
Jimmy: “Well there’s certainly a comparison, but I don’t think that when people are originals like Wayne … I think Cooper was an original … it’s a little difficult to compare them. To me, an original has so many attributes that are entirely his, that you couldn’t imagine anybody else fooling around with him. Then it’s hard to compare them.
Just from observation, over the last years and years and years … I just had a feeling that there are … to be an original is a very special sort of thing for a human being. Because … it means, it means that you … when you’re gone, have accumulated a number of things that are yours. And it doesn’t matter whether another person comes and gets the same sort of parts and the same sort of … and fits into the same niche that you did when you … it’s still not quite the same, because you were the original.”
Listen to Podcast Episode #14, Jimmy Stewart "lost" interview, July 1979, part 1
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