John Wayne's Resurfaced 'Playboy' Interview About Black People, Gay Men Draws Backlash

Nearly 40 years after his death, John Wayne is drawing backlash over a controversial 1971 Playboy interview that recently resurfaced.

The True Grit star, who died at age 72 in 1979, was back in the headlines Tuesday after Twitter user Matt Williams shared screenshots from the interview, in which Wayne proclaimed, "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility."

In one excerpt, the Western actor claimed that there's "quite a bit of resentment" among "blacks," adding, "But we can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility."

Wayne also claimed that "the academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically," and "some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the tests and don't have the requisite background."

He went on to express his support for African American actors, stating that he casts them in "proper" roles.

"I had a black slave in The Alamo and I had a correct number of blacks in The Green Berets. If it's supposed to be a black character, naturally I use a black actor," he said. "But I don't go as far as hunting for positions for them. I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far."

In one excerpt, Wayne proclaimed that he did not "feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from" Native Americans." He went on to suggest that "we ought to make a deal with the Indians. They should pay as much for Alcatraz as we paid them for Manhattan. I hope they haven't been careless with their wampum."

The Oscar winner also commented on the role of LGBTQ representation in Hollywood, stating that films like Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider are "perverted."

"Wouldn't you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies?" he said. "But don't get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman is concerned, I'm awfully happy there's a thing called sex. It's an extra something God gave us. I see no reason why it shouldn't be in pictures. Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful."

The interview, which had Wayne trending at No. 1 on Twitter from Monday night through Tuesday afternoon, drew a wave of criticism from both fans and celebrities.

"I've always been convinced that no single person has done more to inspire awful nationalism than Wayne," one person wrote. "Everyone thinks they're Wayne when they buy a gun and complain about 'thugs'" Gun nuts and racists buy into the Wayne version of the foundation of this country."


Several others, however, came to the late actor's defense, pointing out that the viewpoint in the '70s and before was vastly different from viewpoints today, with one person writing that Wayne "was born in 1907 he grew up during a time when racism was a real problem in this country."

Others criticized the outrage over an interview that is decades old, suggesting that it "cheapens truly egregious events worthy of real outrage and attention. It's like crying wolf every time."