John Wayne, originally named Marion Robert Morrison and nicknamed The Duke, was a film icon in western films, making him Hollywood’s heartthrob during his time. The late actor had three wives, so with all the fame and recognition, we can’t help but wonder, what were John Wayne’s children’s lives like growing up, and where are they now?
The producer, actor, and director started working for Fox Film Corporation after losing a football scholarship at the University of Southern California due to a body surfing accident. From there, he got small roles, eventually starring in The Bog Trail by Raoul Walsh, but the film didn’t sell so well.
He was casted for leading roles in the 1930s, but it was Stagecoach by John Ford that turned him into a mainstream star. From then on, his career took off. But it seems he took being a heartthrob too close to heart as he allegedly had numerous affairs.
John Wayne was first married to Josephine’ Josie’ Saenz, with whom he had four children—Michael, Toni, Patrick, and Melinda. However, it was Wayne’s infidelity and Josphine’s indignation that ended their marriage.
A year later, Wayne tied the knot with Esperanza “Chata” Baur Diaz, but Diaz became an alcoholic, leading to numerous arguments, so their marriage ended as well. According to Wayne’s friends, his wedding with Diaz seemed to be a “spur of the moment” occasion which was probably the reason why they didn’t bear a child together.
Wayne’s third wife, Pilar Pallete, is a Peruvian actress and the daughter of a Peruvian senator in Northern Peru. They welcomed three children—Alissa, John Ethan, and Marisa—into the family.
That said, let’s meet John Wayne’s seven children.
John Wayne’s children with Josephine Saenz
Wayne married Josephine in 1933, but they got divorced in 1945. Their marriage produced four children, of which two are male, and two are female.
Michael Wayne (Michael Anthony Morrison)
Michael was born on the 23rd of November 1934 in Los Angeles, California. Years later, he got his Business degree at Loyola University in 1956, also in California.
Being John Wayne’s eldest child, Michael was greatly influenced by his dad’s career choice. He started as a production assistant on The Quiet Man set in 1951 before joining Batjac Productions, his father’s production company at the time, for Alamo in 1960.
With a reputable track record of being a good businessman, Michael held a position as president, as well as chairman of the board, of the John Wayne Foundation, and was part of the board of Motion Picture & Television Fund.
Michael was married to Gretchen, and they had five children together—four daughters (Josephine, Teresa, Alicia, and Maria) and a son named Christopher. However, in 2003 at the age of 68, Michael passed away due to heart failure caused by complications from lupus erythematosus.
Mary Antonia “Toni” Wayne LaCava (Mary Antonia Morrison)
Josephine and John Wayne welcomed their first daughter, Mary Antonia Morrison, to the world on the 25th of February 1936. Just like her father and brother, Toni also pursued a career in show business as an actress. She is best known for her work in the 1992 The Making of The Quiet Man, and the 1941 Meet the Stars #3: Variety Reel #1.
However, she spent most of her life taking the role of a wife and mother. Toni was married to Donald La Clava, and together they had eight children—Christopher, Anita, Brendan, Peter, Kevin, David, Mark, and Brigid.
Unfortunately, on December 6, 2000, Toni died of lung cancer.
Patrick Wayne (Patrick John Morrison)
Patrick was born on the 15th of July 1939 in Los Angeles, California. As with the rest of his family, Patrick also pursued a career in acting with his stage name, Patrick Wayne. He built a career for himself and made appearances in films such as The Searchers, and Mister Roberts. He created more than 40 films, of which 11 are with his father.
In the later years of his career, he hosted television shows including The Monte Carlo Show, a 1980 variety show, and Tic-Tac-Dough, the 1990 revival of the show. He officially retired in 1997.
Melinda Wayne Munoz (Melinda Ann Morrison)
Born as Melinda Ann Morrison on the 3rd of December 1940, Melinda was also an actress best known for her work in the 1952 The Quiet Man. She married Gregory Munoz on April 4 1964, and the couple had five children together, but they later divorced in 1985.
John Wayne’s children with Pilar Pallete
Pilar was Wayne’s last wife until he died of stomach cancer in 1979. They got married in 1954, but Pilar moved out of their house in 1973. Despite this, she made it clear that she and John remained married until his death. They weren’t legally divorced or separated. Together, they brought about three children, of which two are female and one is male.
Aissa was born on the 31st of March 1956 in Burbank, California. She was also an actress known for her work in 1963 McLintock, the 1960 The Alamo, and the 1977 Hollywood Greats. But eventually, Aissa left the show business and became an attorney in Los Angeles.
John Ethan Morrison (Ethan Wayne)
Ethan was born on February 22, 1962, in Encino, California, but was raised in Newport Beach, California. It’s clear that his birth and upbringing were heavily influenced by his father and the film industry seeing as he was named after his father’s character, Ethan Edwards, in The Searchers, and he also played Little Jake, the grandson of Big Jake, his father’s character.
After his father died in 1979, Ethan started doing stunt work with his first film being The Blue Brothers. However, he returned to acting with his two major film appearances being; Longshot, a comedy film, and Scream, a slasher film.
His later works include numerous TV appearances before he retired in 2003. He is now serving as the director of John Wayne Cancer Foundation, while also managing John Wayne Enterprises.
Marisa Carmela Wayne
Marisa was born in Burbank, California, on the 22nd of February 1966. On the 4th of May 2005, Marisa married Tony Ditteaux, and they have two children: Carmela Louise Ditteaux, who was born on June 18, 2004, and Duke Morrison Ditteaux, who was born on September 13, 2007.
From his children’s chosen careers and lifestyles, Wayne’s influence on his kids is evident. Despite being under the spotlight for most of their childhood, John Wayne’s children still continued to look up to their dad. And it is precisely this influential manifestation that allowed John Wayne’s legacy to live on.