READ: John Wayne’s 1971 Playboy Interview Transcript

John Wayne

Getty John Wayne 1974

California opted not to proclaim a ‘John Wayne Day’ some years ago based on the Hollywood legends’ past racist and sexist positions and statements.

Out of the archives, the infamous 1971 Playboy magazine interview with Wayne has been resurrected and is again fodder for debate and analysis. And just plain old calling out the “Duke,” dead for four decades, for being a racist misogynist.

Here’s the full interview transcript.

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Here’s what you need to know about John Wayne’s positions on women, African-Americans, and Native Americans:


John Wayne on African-Americans: ‘I Believe in White Supremacy Until the Blacks are Educated to a Point of Responsibility’

WAYNE: With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. 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 judgment to irresponsible people.

PLAYBOY: Are you equipped to judge which blacks are irresponsible and which of their leaders inexperienced?

WAYNE: It’s not my judgment. The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically. But 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.

PLAYBOY: How do they get that background?

WAYNE: By going to school. I don’t know why people insist that blacks have been forbidden their right to go to school. They were allowed in public schools wherever I’ve been. Even if they don’t have the proper credentials for college, there are courses to help them become eligible. But if they aren’t academically ready for that step, I don’t think they should be allowed in. Otherwise, the academic society is brought down to the lowest common denominator.

PLAYBOY: But isn’t it true that we’re never likely to rectify the inequities in our educational system until some sort of remedial education is given to disadvantaged minority groups?

WAYNE: What good would it do to register anybody in a class of higher algebra or calculus if they haven’t learned to count? There has to be a standard. I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves. Now, I’m not condoning slavery. It’s just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can’t play football with the rest of us. I will say this, though: I think any black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they’d tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America.

PLAYBOY: Many militant blacks would argue that they have it better almost anywhere else. Even in Hollywood, they feel that the color barrier is still up for many kinds of jobs. Do you limit the number of blacks you use in your pictures?

WAYNE: Oh, Christ no. I’ve directed two pictures and I gave the blacks their proper position. 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. But I don’t go so far as hunting for positions for them. I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far. There’s no doubt that 10 percent of the population is black, or colored, or whatever they want to call themselves; they certainly aren’t Caucasian. Anyway, I suppose there should be the same percentage of the colored race in films as in society. But it can’t always be that way. There isn’t necessarily going to be 10 percent of the grips or sound men who are black, because more than likely, 10 percent haven’t trained themselves for that type of work


John Wayne on Native Americans: ‘The Indians Were Selfishly Trying to Keep (America) For Themselves’

Playboy: For years American Indians have played an important—if subordinate—role in your Westerns. Do you feel any empathy with them?

Wayne: I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

Playboy: Weren’t the Indians—by virtue of prior possession—the rightful owners of the land?

Wayne: Look, I’m sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can’t be blamed on us today.

American actor John Wayne (1907 – 1979), wearing a hat featuring a crossed swords insignia and a yellow scarf tied around his neck, smiles and looks to the side in a portrait, 1976. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Playboy: Indians today are still being dehumanized on reservations.

Wayne: I’m quite sure that the concept of a government-run reservation would have an ill effect on anyone. But that seems to be what the socialists are working for now—to have everyone cared for from cradle to grave.

Playboy: How do you feel about the government grant for a university and cultural center that these Indians have demanded as “reparations”?

Wayne: What happened between their forefathers and our forefathers is so far back— right, wrong or indifferent—that I don’t see why we owe them anything. I don’t know why the government should give them something that it wouldn’t give me.


John Wayne on Women’s Rights

“I’m saddened by the fact that although I think we were a matriarchy, we will not be any longer. Opening doors and tipping your hat to ladies is, uh, probably a thing of the past. The forerunners of the women’s liberation of today have taken that feeling away from the average American man…”


John Wayne Died 40 years Ago This June. His ‘Official’ Twitter Account Reminds Fans of His ‘Values’

“This is my country & I’m gonna do good for it” 🇺🇸 Do you have values like the Duke? #JohnWayneValues,” the official John Wayne Twitter asked.