By the 1970s, John Wayne was nearing the end of his career as a Hollywood star. In 1973, he was 65 years old, had lived with one lung for 10 years and had emphysema in his remaining lung. That year he released two Westerns, which no one remembers as the best but saw the aging icon carry on with much determination. One such film was The Train Robbers, which co-starred Ann-Margret as a feisty widow who works alongside three cowboys in retrieving a cage of gold. Despite his health issues with the film, Wayne refused to delay filming and pushed forward. Anne-Margret had fond memories of her co-star’s perseverance during this period.
Anne-Margaret recalled: “Duke was still a strong, rugged, formidable man, larger than life and incredibly personal. He was a big bear, and we had a reputation for that. The Duke gave me a confidence I lacked.”
The Viva Las Vegas star appreciated this since 1972 was a very difficult time in her life, as she was seriously injured while performing at a Lake Tahoe show. In terms of the confidence boost she needed, the actress had to overcome her fear of horses as there was a lot of riding to her character. It was here that Wayne lent her support and helped her overcome this obstacle. However, even before shooting began, Duke had fractured two of his ribs, which were so painful he struggled to sleep at night.
As a result, Wayne’s action scenes in The Train Robbers had to be cut back, as co-star Rod Taylor recalled that Duke was “a little” weak during filming. The Time Machine star said the Western legend was having issues with his balance and it was understood he needed an afternoon nap.
Wayne also released Cahill: US Marshall in 1973, which saw a greatly weakened Duke having to use a ladder to climb onto a horse. That year also saw the death of his most famous collaborator, director John Ford.
Upon news of the filmmakers’ deaths in August, Wayne told reporters, “I’m pretty much living on lost time.”
Read more: John Wayne’s The Shootist co-star shuts down specific rumors from the past movie
Duke would go on to make two better reviewed Westerns in Rooster Cogburn’s True Grit sequel opposite Katharine Hepburn and The Shootist.
The latter was his last film and saw him play a terminally ill gunman. The Hollywood icon himself died of cancer just two years later in 1979.
(Visited 4 times, 4 visits today)