John Wayne was the quintessential cowboy, the all-American American, the symbol for “macho” all over the world. The “Duke” starred in more than 170 films over nearly 50 years.
He had a highly recognizable gait which is now a classic. One person described it as “looking like he needed to change his diapers.” Slightly tipsy, slightly off-balance looking, rough, tough, and rugged…. Wayne referred to his famous gait saying that “the women love it”. Is that why the Duke walked with that trademark swagger? He never elaborated.
The “John Wayne walk” didn’t happen overnight. In his films in the 1930s, he appeared stiff and awkward in his lanky 6’4″ body. He was hired because he looked like and talked like a hero, but he didn’t move like one. He had to learn his slow, deliberate way of walking.
Other theories for John’s Wayne stylistic gait persist:
- Burt Reynolds claimed Wayne used a Native-American walk: toe to heel, toe to heel.
- The Duke broke his leg before he hit it big, and that created his off-balance walk.
- Some simply say he wore his pants too tight.
- Two of Wayne’s most famous leading ladies, Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, agree on one theory: John Wayne just had small feet! (Apparently, Wayne’s boot prints imprinted on the sidewalk at the legendary Graumann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. reveal a men’s size 5 or 6 foot.)
So perhaps the explanation for the Duke’s broad walk, one of the most famous gaits in movie history, is the combination of a strapping, masculine body and comparatively little feet.
Excerpts from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/31337/where-did-john-wayne-get-his-walk
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