Orange County supervisors and the Newport Beach City Council have declared May 26 to be John Wayne Day after the California state assembly shot down a measure to honor the late actor’s birthday.
In April, the state Assembly voted against a resolution proposed by Assemblyman Matthew Harper to declare May 26, the iconic western film actor’s birthday, John Wayne Day over allegedly racist remarks he made in the early 1970s.
Earlier this month, the Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously to celebrate the late actor and long-time Newport Beach resident by declaring May 26th, John Wayne Day. Following the measure’s defeat in the Assembly, Harper approached Orange County officials about celebrating the actor’s legacy. Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel took up the cause and gave a presentation in favor of the day with John Wayne’s children present. Steel, a Korean immigrant, said she had no qualms endorsing the measure, despite John Wayne’s checkered history on matters of race.
In 1971, the western movie actor gave an interview to Playboy magazine where he endorsed the idea of white supremacy and said Native Americans were selfish for defending lands against white settlers. State legislators cited the interview as evidence that John Wayne’s legacy should not be celebrated. That interview has come back to haunt the actor’s legacy, but his son Ethan Wayne, who still lives in Newport Beach said that the resolution was merely a way for the city to honor a resident who many locals still remember fondly. Councilman Kevin Muldoon, who proposed the Newport Beach resolution, called John Wayne a consummate American hero.
What the fresh appreciation for John Wayne’s legacy will do to the selling price of a home in Big Canyon formerly owned by the actor and his wife is anyone’s guess. The 4,500-square-foot home located at 14 Rue Grand Ducal is on the market for $3.95 million. The home has been extensively renovated, but the current owners, Irwin and Margaret Much, did all they could to preserve the Duke’s favorite features. The library, said to be Wayne’s favorite room, is largely unchanged. The backyard swimming pool has been replaced with a fire pit and seating, a fountain with an 80-foot curved wall and fire bowls. A few stone bald eagle statues have been moved from the inside to the front yard, although the backyard still overlooks the Big Canyon Country Club, where the Duke used to play golf as well as poker, bridge and backgammon.
Wayne’s more famous waterfront home on Bayshore Drive was later torn down, and while the Rue du Ducal home was not the Duke’s primary residence, according to lord it was his home away from home for many years. According to the Much’s, they have spent more than $1 million renovating the classic residence, which last sold for $1.775 million in 2011.
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(all data current as of 5/29/2017)
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