During his amazing career in Hollywood, John Wayne had many regular collaborators in his films such as Ward Bond, Howard Hawks and John Ford.
Duke and these men were part of the powerful conservative circle in Tinseltown who were in favor of blacklisting suspected communists and progressive Democrats.
One of these Republican close friends and regular co-stars was James Arness. Unfortunately, this relationship has been hit hard.
Arness had supporting roles opposite Wayne in 1950s films such as Big Jim McLain, Hondo, Island in the Sky, and The Sea Chase.
The generous duke even had him star in the fast-paced Western Gun The Man Down for his Batjac production company. However, helping his friend in his career did not stop there.
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Arness was recommended by Wayne Arness to lead the TV show Gunsmoke in the role of Matt Dillon, and even introduced him in the introduction to the first episode in 1955.
The role of Wild West US Marshall will be his most famous, as he starred in the series for an incredible 20 years. However, when it came time to return the favor, Wayne would be sorely disappointed.
By the end of the 1950s, Duke had been working on his passion project for nearly 15 years: a big-budget movie about the Battle of the Alamo. He was originally only offered $3 million by Republic Pictures and ended up falling out with the studio and leaving to establish Batjac himself.
Wayne had planned to play the small role of Sam Houston in the 1960 Alamo. However, he couldn’t get the $12 million ($120 million today) budget he wanted from backers without playing Davy Crockett himself. The incredibly invested Duke also had to contribute $1.5 million of his own money by taking out second mortgages on his homes and using his cars and yacht as collateral for the loans.
Now Huston’s role was open and the Western legend — who was also making his directorial debut with The Alamo — reached out to his old friend Arness about the part.
Wayne produced Gun the Man Down in 1956. The only exception was Dillon’s appearance in Bob Hope’s 1959 comedy Western Alias Jesse James.
Duke set up an interview with Arness, hoping he would have time to play Houston’s small role at the Alamo. However, to his dismay, his old friend never showed up. The story goes that Wayne never really forgave him for the snub and Richard Boone was chosen instead. Arness never made another motion picture after that.