It’s no secret that John Wayne and director John Ford were friends, but they also worked well together on movies. Because of their friendship, Wayne and Ford sometimes would pull pranks on movie sets. At least, they were usually done in that atmosphere. Yep, until “The Duke” decided to truly one-up Ford.
And he mapped this prank out for a long time. When you take a year to put a plan into effect, then you are putting one over on your friend.
John Wayne Went ‘All In’ On His Plan
In this case, Wayne was “all in” to get Ford totally out of sorts. So, this story comes from the book John Wayne: My Life With the Duke, written by Pilar Wayne and Alex Thorleifson. Wayne patiently waited for Ford to fully be in his new home. Once he was sure that Ford was good there, then Wayne unhatched his devilish plan.
He managed to borrow “a replica of a city truck from Warner Bros.” Then, Wayne “hired a couple of actors to impersonate a survey crew.” The crew and truck were sent over to Ford’s home.
The deal gets even wilder. When the men get there, the plan is for them to “announce that Ford would have to move because a freeway was going to run right through his living room.” When Ford heard this news, he reportedly became “apoplectic.” Things were going south quickly for the four-time Academy Award winner.
One reason Wayne waited so long to unfurl this prank was he wanted to be sure Ford would be upset. Not just a little
Before you go thinking these guys only pranked one another, here are a couple of times they teamed up, according to Far Out Magazine.
Ford, Wayne Cooked Up Prank For Maureen O’Hara
Wayne and Ford cooked up something for Maureen O’Hara. They intentionally put sheep dung on the ground. Why? They were going to drag O’Hara through it on the movie set. Another time, the pair reportedly hired an actor for a specific “role.” He was to play a bumbling waiter who smashed plates. Ford and Wayne wanted to get revenge on a couple of producers on the movie, Rio Grande.
These guys worked together on Stagecoach, considered one of Wayne’s greatest movies. Ford also was behind the camera when Wayne put forth another fantastic performance in The Searchers. Both men could be cantankerous in their way. Yet one cannot question the incredible work both men produced together. The Western genre probably owes a debt of gratitude to Wayne and Ford, at least for their accomplishments.
Seeing how both men enjoyed pulling pranks, though, lets you know they had a sense of humor. No one knows if a prank of this magnitude has been pulled on other actor-director friendships. Wayne and Ford had a truly special bond. And it worked for both men’s careers.