John Wayne’s seven children and their co-starring roles in his hit Western films uncovered

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The late John Wayne is famous in the acting world, but his children, on the other hand, have always kept a low profile. Only the keenest fans would recognise how his family members have also appeared in his movies – albeit in much smaller roles.

I have seven children that I am very proud of

John Wayne

Scarcely known Mary Antonia, his eldest daughter from his first marriage to Josephine Alicia Saenz, made an appearance in The Quiet Man back in 1952.

She made her acting debut in the film, which was intended by director John Ford to be a love letter to Ireland, at the tender age of 16.

Her appearance meant that she was able to travel with her father to the Emerald Isle, and due to her age, she could easily take on the project without missing out on any of her schooling.

Mary Antonia, who was affectionately known as Toni, rejected the idea of taking on the showbiz lifestyle full-time, however.

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Going on to have eight children of her own, her primary role was as a wife and mother.

However, she did participate in some other projects, including the insightful 1992 production The Making Of The Quiet Man, before sadly dying of lung cancer in 2000, aged 48.

Her sister Melinda also appeared in The Quiet Man, although it would be the only film role that she took on.

Meanwhile, appearing alongside Mary in the last of her father’s films that she participated in, The Alamo, was her half-sister Aissa, the product of John’s marriage to third wife Pilar Pallette.

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A post shared by John Wayne “The Duke” (@johnwayneofficial)

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A post shared by John Wayne “The Duke” (@johnwayneofficial)

Turning the movie, which John himself directed, into a family affair, Mary’s then infant daughter Anita Swift was also recruited to appear.

“That was my first and last film. I’m the baby in my mother’s arms as they’re leaving the Alamo,” Anita later explained to American Cowboy.

Mary’s son Brendan Wayne had more longevity in the industry, choosing to become a full-time actor and appearing on The Mandalorian on Disney Plus.

Perhaps the most famous of John’s children is Patrick, who pursued the dream of following in his father’s footsteps the most prolifically.


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He appeared in 11 of his father’s films, including Big Jake, and 40 other movies altogether.

He also hosted two TV shows during his career.

His older brother Michael generally preferred to stay behind the scenes, and help his father with the production side of the industry.

Meanwhile, Ethan, John’s son with Pilar Palette, skipped a generation when it came to the big screen, portraying his father’s grandson in Big Jake.

Plus, his father’s character in the Searchers was named after him.

Ethan and Aissa also have a sister, Mariss, but she decided against a film career.

Regardless, John, who sadly died of stomach cancer in 1979, had spoken of his deep affection and pride for all seven children, no matter what goals they chose to pursue in their lives.

On the Phil Donahue show back in 1976, he spoke candidly of his relationships with them.

“I have seven children that I am very proud of,” he exclaimed. “I know a lot of it’s luck and I know also a lot of it is that they’ve felt love and security at home.”

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