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August 30, 2012

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Huntsville lawyer/writer’s new John Wayne bio continues brisk sales. A just-published new biography of movie icon John Wayne, written by a Huntsville, Alabama lawyer and writer, continues brisk sales since its May, 2012 release. When The Legend Became Fact The True Life of John Wayne, published by Nashville’s Raymond Street Publishers, is a mammoth 574 page book which deconstructs more than 83 years of public relations mythology about the life of the screen icon and reveals Wayne’s tumultuous lifestyle. With decades of research and insight, author Richard Douglas Jensen lifts the veil of public relations half-truths and exposes the reality that the public John Wayne was very different from the private man. Wayne struggled with severe alcoholism, chronic infidelity, selfesteem and personal demons that often made life hell for his three wives and his children. The book painstakingly recounts the triumphs and tragedies of the life of John Wayne – who rose from abject poverty to become the world’s most famous movie star – and creates a portrait of a man haunted by a childhood of abuse; a man conflicted by his own definition of masculinity; a man fighting to control his own rage and his propensity for violence; a man who committed domestic violence against all three of his wives and his children; and a man haunted by and driven to overcome his fear of failure, poverty and ridicule. Jensen, a nationally known criminal defense lawyer, veteran film actor and award-winning journalist, said the intent of the book was not to trash the memory of John Wayne, but to reveal the truth about his life. “John Wayne was my idol since childhood,” Jensen said. “When I was working full time in Hollywood in the late 1970s, I learned that the private John Wayne was not the guy on screen. I’d tell people I wanted to work with the Duke and they’d say, “Oh, no you do not. He’s impossible to work with.”

The truth of Wayne’s life has been protected for decades by, in Jensen’s words, “a kind of omerta. People were afraid of the wrath of Duke’s son, Michael, who ran Duke’s estate. Now that Michael’s dead, people are talking publicly and allowing me to release information that they gave me years ago.”

When The Legend Became Fact The True Life of John Wayne is available exclusively from in both trade paperback and Kindle formats. Retail and library sales are direct from the publisher.


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Jensen said the truth of Wayne’s life is far more interesting and moving than the sanitized version which pervades the media. Jensen said Wayne was a man of great complexity, driven to rise above his miserable childhood and become famous and wealthy, but never able to shirk the demons of his past. “He spent the first half of his adult life clawing his way to the top of the film industry, all the while doing self-destructive things that brought chaos to his personal life and brought him close to ruined many times,” Jensen said. “There is so much information, so much evidence that he was a truly unhappy person much of his life, and mostly because of the horrible childhood he endured and the lasting effects of his mother’s abuse.” The book exposes the hard truths of Wayne’s life, but Jensen said the payoff is the legacy of John Wayne is enriched, rather than tarnished. “When I wrote the final chapters about Duke’s death, I kept breaking out into tears. The circumstances of his death are so sad. You really end up feeling such sympathy for this complex man that when he dies, it’s like losing someone close to you,” Jensen said. “When you read the book, you see that John Wayne spent his life trying to embody the values he portrayed on screen,” Jensen said. “He often failed miserably at this, but in the end became a true life hero not because of what he did on screen, but because of the impact he had on the fight against cancer. His legacy continues to impact cancer research and treatment.”

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