Ethan Wayne is the son of the movie icon John Wayne. Ethan has been defending his father’s reputation, which took a serious hit after a Playboy interview surfaced in which John Wayne made homophobic and racist statements. In a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, John Wayne used a homophobic slur to discuss some Hollywood films. He also said that Native Americans were “selfishly trying to keep [the US] for themselves” and said, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”
The Playboy interview led to widespread criticism of John Wayne, with one LA Times columnist writing that John Wayne airport, in Orange County, should change its name. John Wayne passed away in 1979 after battling stomach cancer. In recent days, his son, Ethan, has come to his defense, telling the world that his father was no racist and that he should continue to be honored for the way he lived his life.
Here’s what you need to know about Ethan Wayne:
1. He Says His Father Treated Everyone Like an Equal & Never Cared About Race or Sexuality
Ethan Wayne says that people have been taking his father’s words out of context. Instead of scrutinizing the words from one interview, Ethan says, people should look at the way that John Wayne lived his life. “It would be an injustice to judge someone based on an interview that’s being used out of context,” Ethan Wayne told CNN. “They’re trying to contradict how he lived his life, and how he lived his life was who he was. So, any discussion of removing his name from the airport should include the full picture of the life of John Wayne and not be based on a single outlier interview from half a century ago.”
Ethan added, “My father worked in Hollywood for 50 years, and Hollywood is probably, you know, one of the most progressive and diverse communities on Earth. He didn’t care what race, gender, sexual orientation you were. He cared how well you did your job. He took everyone at face value.”
2. Ethan Is the Son of John Wayne & Wayne’s Third Wife, Pilar Palette
Ethan Wayne was born in 1962 in Los Angeles. His full name is John Ethan Wayne. Ethan is the son of John Wayne and Pilar Palette, John Wayne’s third wife. Pilar and John were married from 1954 until John’s death from stomach cancer, in 1979. They had three children together: Ethan, Aissa, and Marisa. Ethan was named after the character his father played in the 1956 film “The Searchers.”
3. He Has Worked an Actor & Stuntman & Played the Role of John Wayne’s Grandson in ‘Big Jake’
Ethan got his start as an actor when he was eight years old, portraying “Little Jake” in the movie “Big Jake.” His father, John Wayne,played his grandfather, Big Jake, on screen. Describing the experience years later, Ethan told Box Office Mojo, “It was fun. My dad was there, Maureen O’Hara was there, Bruce Cabot was there—all the stunt guys I knew were there—my brother Patrick was in it, my brother Michael was producing it, so it was a really fun place for me to be at eight years old.”
Ethan is also known for his work as a stuntman in the 1980 movie Blues Brothers. He’s appeared on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” as well as on other TV shows like “Knight Rider” and “Suddenly Susan.”
4. He Was Involved in a High-Profile Legal Battle With His Sister Over John Wayne’s Estate
Back in 2010, TMZ reported that Ethan Wayne was locked in a legal fight with his sister Aissa over their father’s estate. TMZ reported that Aissa had filed legal papers in L.A. County Superior Court, claiming that she wanted to sell her share of her father’s estate. According to TMZ, Aissa and Ethan valued the estate very differently: Aissa claimed that it was worth $15,400,000, while Ethan estimated its value at $10,704,000. Aissa asked for a judge to value the estate so that they could settle on a fair price for Ethan to buy her out.
5. He Was Briefly Married & Is Divorced
In 1989, Ethan married Gina Rivadenegry. The couple divorced one year later. It is not clear whether Ethan is now in a serious relationship, or whether he is single. He has been photographed with the actress Krysten Ritter.