Critics call for John Wayne Airport to be renamed after interview resurfaces
ORANGE COUNTY, California – The question of whether movie icon John Wayne’s name should be removed from an airport in Orange County, California is being debated after comments he made in an interview nearly 50 years ago resurfaced.
During an interview with “Playboy” magazine in 1971, Wayne is reported to have made an “inflammatory” statement about black people, saying,
“I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”
A column from the Los Angeles Times also pointed to several other statements the late actor made about gay people and native americans.
Commenting on the type of films being produced by Hollywood at the time, Wayne said Americans are “completely fed up with these perverted films.”
When asked which films he considers perverted, he mentioned “Midnight Cowboy.”
“Wouldn’t you say the wonderful love of those two men in ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ a story about two fags, qualifies?” Wayne said at the time.
Later on in the interview, Wayne responded to a reporter’s comment about American Indians playing an important, if not subordinate role in his films. When asked if he felt any empathy toward Native Americans, Wayne responded that Native Americans “were selfishly trying to keep” the U.S. “for themselves.”
Michael Hiltzik, who wrote the opinion piece in the LA Times, says it’s a personal choice whether people watch Wayne’s films but raises questions about the airport retaining the movie star’s namesake.
“It certainly undermines any justification for his name and image to adorn a civic facility,” Hiltzik says.
But members of the Wayne family say the comments surrounding this debate have been taken out of context, and that it’s unfair to judge someone on something they said 50 years ago when they’re not here to respond.
Ethan Wayne, John Wayne’s son, responds to this debate in the video above.