Late Actor John Wayne’s Racist and Homophobic 1971 ‘Playboy’ Interview Resurfaces: ‘I Believe in White Supremacy’

John Wayne’s Racist and Homophobic 1971 ‘Playboy’ Interview Resurfaces
American actor John Wayne (1907 - 1979) as Wil Andersen in 'The Cowboys', directed by Mark Rydell, 1972.  Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Under fire. John Wayne made many controversial comments during a 1971 interview with Playboy.

The True Grit star, who died at age 72 in 1979, made headlines on Tuesday, February 19, after his racist and homophobic remarks resurfaced via Twitter. 

Wayne expressed his views after taking aim at African American political activist Angela Davis. “With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent and rightfully so,” he told the publication. “But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.”

He added: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people.”

Wayne also claimed that “the academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically,” and “some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven’t passed the tests and don’t have the requisite background.”

Although the Golden Globe winner expressed his support for African American actors, he told Playboy that he casts them in what he deems to be “proper” roles. “I had a black slave in The Alamo and I had a correct number of blacks in The Green Berets. If it’s supposed to be a black character, naturally I use a black actor,” he said. “But I don’t go as far as hunting for positions for them. I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far.”

The Oscar winner, who was known for his Western films, also slammed Native American Indians for their role in history. “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. … Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival,” he disclosed. “There were great numbers of people who needed new land and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Wayne also made insensitive remarks about LGBTQ representation in Hollywood, telling Playboy that he considers films like Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider to be “perverted.”

“Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies?” Wayne noted when asked which movies he doesn’t support. “But don’t get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman is concerned, I’m awfully happy there’s a thing called sex. It’s an extra something God gave us. I see no reason why it shouldn’t be in pictures. Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful.”

Celebrities including Patton Oswalt took to Twitter to condemn Wayne’s beliefs, writing, “‘If it’s supposed to be a black actor, naturally I use a black actor’ was as ‘woke’ as John Wayne got, I guess.”

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