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Hollywood Icon John Wayne’s Costumes, Awards & Documents to be Auctioned

by Gregory Watkins (09/08/11).

Hollywood westerns icon John Wayne’s costumes, documents, awards and other memorabilia from the John Wayne Foundation will offer to fans in a public auction to be conducted by Heritage Auctions in Los Angeles in October 2011.

LOS ANGELES — Saddle up, Pilgrim, and move out. Fans of Hollywood icon John Wayne will want to be at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Oct. 6 and 7 to put in bids on cowboy hats, costumes, boots and scripts from John Wayne’s estate.

More than 700 personal and professional items—including an eye patch and hat Wayne wore in his Golden Globe-winning performances as the character Rooster Cogburn—will be sold through Heritage Auction Galleries. Public exhibitions are planned in Dallas (Sept. 16-18) and New York (Sept. 23-25).

The Nudie’s cowboy hat Wayne wore in “Rooster Cogburn” the 1975 follow-up to “True Grit.” Wayne portrayed the title character in the film that co-starred Katharine Hepburn. The presale estimate for this hat is between $30,000 and $40,000.

John Wayne is most widely known as the definitive Hollywood cowboy, although he played several types of roles throughout his career. He died of cancer in 1979 at the age of 72, but his popularity remains unequaled, as he was listed as America’s third-favorite actor behind Johnny Deppand Denzel Washington in a Harris poll released earlier this year.

Ethan Wayne, an actor and stuntman and the youngest of Wayne’s sons, heads up John Wayne Enterprises in California, is planning the first single-owner auction from Wayne’s personal collection. He said it was tough selecting which items to auction off.

“My father’s fans were very important to him. He was open and accessible to them, and making these items accessible to the public is something that feels right,” said Ethan Wayne. “Museums have large collections of my father’s personal property, and our family has had a chance to select and keep items sentimental to us. There is no need to keep this memorabilia locked away when it can be enjoyed by his fans.”

“The John Wayne collection is a time capsule of classic Hollywood and U.S. history that has remained carefully preserved by his family since John Wayne died 32 years ago,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “We anticipate attracting a wide range of people to the auction, from serious collectors and loyal fans to movie fans and the simply curious.”

John Wayne Enterprises, which is owned by the Wayne’s children and grandchildren and whose primary mission is to preserve and protect the image of the larger-than-life movie star. This large collection of the actor’s movie memorabilia that will cross the auctioneer’s block is not the entire contents of the auction.

One of the eye patches John Wayne wore in his award-winning role as Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 film, “True Grit.” The patch is expected to earn at least $4,250.

Ethan Wayne told the Los Angeles Times, “No matter what you do, someone is going to be looking over your shoulder saying that it’s great that you are allowing it to go and another person is saying that it’s horrible, how can you do that? Yes, the Golden Globe is going but the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Oscar are not going. We are keeping some scripts and letting some go.”

Wayne won the Best Leading Actor Oscar as the crotchety, one-eyed marshal Rooster Cogburn in 1969’s “True Grit,” and starred in some of the most classic films of the 20th century such as “Stagecoach” (1939), “Fort Apache” (1948), “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949) and “The Quiet Man” (1952).

In addition to the “True Grit” hat and eye patch, other items to be auctions include the Golden Globe Wayne won for his role as Cogburn, a costume from “Sands of Iwo Jima” (1949, opening bid of $20,000); a Stetson cowboy hat from “Hondo” (1953, $25,000 opening bid) and a limited-edition signed print from Andy Warhol’s “Cowboys and Indians” series ($20,000 opening bid).

Fans and admirers of more modest means will also be able to participate in the auction, as several of the items will open in then $100 opening-big range, including the Duke’s American Express card from 1973 and other more mundane, yet unmistakably John Wayne-ish items, such as money clips and plaques and other honors given to America’s cowboy.

As John Wayne once said: “Nobody liked my acting but the public.” Now, the public will have a chance to own a little bit of the Duke.

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