John Wayne’s family defends actor’s legacy over airport ‘racism’ row

John Wayne’s family has defended the screen icon amid calls for his name to be removed due to ‘racist’ comments made in 1971. 

Wayne’s family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a ‘single outlier interview from half a century ago’ that does not represent him. 

Shortly after Wayne’s son Ethan put out a statement insisting his father ‘was not a racist,’ the actor’s widow Pillar Pallete, 91, made a rare appearance outside her home in Orange City. 

An image shows the widow holding her dog. Palette was married to Wayne until his death in 1979. 

In a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, Wayne was quoted saying ‘I believe in white supremacy’ and ‘I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.’ 

Ethan in a released statement said the word racist is ‘casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also understand how we got to this point.’

Wayne is picture with his son Ethan around 1969. Wayne’s family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a ‘single outlier interview from half a century ago’ that does not represent him

A statement from John Wayne's son Ethan notes that the word racist is 'casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also understand how we got to this point,' he said, in a reference to George Floyd protests and calls for an end to systematic racism

A statement from John Wayne’s son Ethan notes that the word racist is ‘casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also understand how we got to this point,’ he said, in a reference to George Floyd protests and calls for an end to systematic racism

Wayne – the late, macho star of Hollywood westerns such as ‘True Grit’ – held ‘white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views,’ the Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution calling for his name to be removed from the local airport. 

Ethan added: ‘There is no question the words spoken by John Wayne in an interview 50 years ago have caused pain and anger, as he realized his true feelings were wrongly conveyed.’

‘The truth is, as we have seen in papers from his archives, he did not support “white supremacy” in any way and believes that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence.’ 

The statement goes on to say that Wayne hired and worked with people of all ‘races, creeds and sexual orientations’. ‘John Wayne stood for the very best of all of us — a society that doesn’t discriminate against anyone seeking the American dream.’ 

Wayne's family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a 'single outlier interview from half a century ago' that does not represent him. His son Ethan released a statement, pictured, insisting his father 'was not a racist'

Wayne’s family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a ‘single outlier interview from half a century ago’ that does not represent him. His son Ethan released a statement, pictured, insisting his father ‘was not a racist’

Palette married Wayne in 1954. Both are pictured two years later on a trip to Tripoli. The couple remained together until the actor's death in 1979

Palette married Wayne in 1954. Both are pictured two years later on a trip to Tripoli. The couple remained together until the actor’s death in 1979

He added that the ‘current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distract from real opportunities for reform.’

Wayne ‘would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people. He would have pulled those officers off of George Floyd, because that was the right thing to do. He would stand for everyone’s right to protest and work toward change,’ Ethan added. 

‘It would be an injustice to judge him based on a single interview, as opposed to the full picture of who he was.’

Wayne starred in more than 150 films over six decades. He was nominated for three Oscars, winning best actor for 1969’s ‘True Grit.’

It comes after President Donald Trump rushed to his defence on Monday.

Shortly after Wayne's son Ethan put out a statement insisting his father 'was not a racist,' the actor's widow Pillar Pallete, 91, made a rare appearance outside her home in Orange

Shortly after Wayne’s son Ethan put out a statement insisting his father ‘was not a racist,’ the actor’s widow Pillar Pallete, 91, made a rare appearance outside her home in Orange

The Democrats’ resolution noted the population of Orange County, near Los Angeles, has grown far more diverse since 1979 – the year Wayne died, and the airport was named for him. 

‘They have called for its name to be restored to Orange County Airport.’ 

Trump, who took issue with Princeton for removing President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public and International Affairs amid pressures similar to those calling for the removal of statues and monuments after George Floyd protests, ripped into the Democratic plan for the airport.

‘Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport,’ tweeted Trump. ‘Incredible stupidity!’ 

US President Donald Trump leapt to the defense Monday of his movie idol John Wayne, after California Democrats called for the actor's name to be removed from a local airport due to 'racist' comments

US President Donald Trump leapt to the defense Monday of his movie idol John Wayne, after California Democrats called for the actor’s name to be removed from a local airport due to ‘racist’ comments

The Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution last week that Wayne's name should come down from the county's local airport (pictured) after noting that he held 'white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views'

 The Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution last week that Wayne’s name should come down from the county’s local airport (pictured) after noting that he held ‘white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views’

President Donald Trump took issue with Princeton for removing President Woodrow Wilson's name from its School of Public and International Affairs amid pressures similar to those calling for the removal of statues and monuments after George Floyd protests

President Donald Trump took issue with Princeton for removing President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public and International Affairs amid pressures similar to those calling for the removal of statues and monuments after George Floyd protests

Trump added to his disapproval the effort to rename John Wayne Airport, in a tweet Monday

Trump added to his disapproval the effort to rename John Wayne Airport, in a tweet Monday

The renaming comes at a time when historic statues and monuments are being removed across the country, as Americans grapple with the legacy of racism in the wake of the police-related slaying of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. 

Floyd, a 46-year-old black father-of-five, died after police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on the man’s neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest.

Video footage of the incident taken by a bystander shows the slaying, which triggered Black Lives Matter protests calling for an end to police brutality and systematic racism. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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