John Wayne Cut Wife Out of $6.8M Will after She Left Him Ill — Daughter Was the One Who Held His Hand on Deathbed

    In the face of a devastating diagnosis, John Wayne prioritized precious time with his family, but surprisingly, his widowed wife didn’t get a penny of his $6.8 million fortune. The controversial decision left the world wondering who would ultimately inherit the iconic actor’s wealth.

    John Wayne’s legacy as an American folk hero and Hollywood legend remains etched in the annals of film history. Renowned for his iconic roles in westerns, Wayne dedicated himself wholeheartedly to his craft until the very end. A tireless workaholic, Wayne exemplified an unwavering commitment to his profession. His passion for acting was matched only by his deep appreciation for the support and adoration he received from his fans. In a display of genuine gratitude, John personally took the time to respond to every letter he received, acknowledging his fans’ contributions to his enduring career.

    John Wayne in a studio portrait, circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

    Even as his health waned, Wayne summoned his remaining strength to deliver a remarkable performance in The Shootist (1976). It was a testament to his indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to his craft. An intriguing coincidence lies in the parallel between Wayne’s character, John Bernard Books, in the movie “The Shootist,” and the actor’s own personal journey. In the film, Books portrayed an aging gunman grappling with a terminal illness, yearning for a peaceful final chapter, but ultimately finding himself embroiled in a final, fateful gunfight. Remarkably, life mirrored art when, just two years later, John Wayne himself received a devastating diagnosis of stomach cancer.

    The April 1979 Oscars served as a bittersweet culmination of John Wayne’s illustrious career. Surrounded by his peers and the luminaries of the film industry, he stood before the audience, a figure revered for his contributions to the world of cinema. The atmosphere was electric with emotion as the entire room, filled with actors, directors, and industry professionals, rose to their feet in a spontaneous outpouring of admiration and respect.

    As Wayne stood on that stage, basking in the adulation and applause, it was a testament to his enduring legacy. The moment captured the essence of his unparalleled contribution to the world of cinema and the everlasting imprint he left on the hearts of millions.

    John Wayne at the Annual Academy Awards, 1979. | Source: Getty Images

    In the relentless march of time, John Wayne’s health faced a gradual decline in recent decades. It was during the tumultuous 1960s that fate dealt him a devastating blow — a diagnosis of lung cancer. The actor had to have his lung removed. Despite this loss, Wayne’s resilient spirit persisted, and he continued to grace the silver screen with his commanding presence, inspiring generations with his unwavering dedication to his craft. But life’s trials were not yet done with the iconic actor. In a cruel twist of fate, the year 1978 brought devastating news — cancer had returned, this time insidiously invading his stomach.

    Defying the shadows of his own mortality, John embarked on a remarkable journey of resilience and determination. Even after his arduous battle with cancer, he refused to let the flame of his artistic passion be extinguished. Wayne embarked on a series of remarkable cinematic endeavors that would etch his name in the annals of film history with works like “El Dorado” and “True Grit.”

    After his passing in 1979, John Wayne left behind an estate worth $6.8 million, but to the surprise of many, none of it was bequeathed to his widow, Pilar. The decision sparked intrigue and speculation as it defied expectations and raised questions about the dynamics of their relationship. Moreover, it turned out that Wayne left $30,000 to Pat Stacy, who was his secretary at the time of his death. Stacy was also Wayne’s love interest in his final years and shared the experiences of their bond, as well as the actor’s brave battle with cancer. She was at the hospital until the very end. “I loved him very much,” she claimed.

    During the early 1970s, when faced his illness, his third wife Pilar decided to leave him, leaving him to confront his challenges alone. Interestingly, despite their separation, Pilar and John Wayne remained legally married until his death. Even to this day, she proudly wore the 15-carat diamond engagement ring that was bestowed upon her by the iconic actor. Despite not receiving an inheritance from John Wayne, Pilar, now 94 years old, fondly remembered him as a man who embodied strength, generosity, and kindness, coupled with a great sense of humor.

    Unlike for his wife, John Wayne made deliberate provisions for his seven children in his will. Each child was left with $5,000, multiplied by the difference between the age of 21 and the child’s age at the time of the actor’s death.

    John Wayne’s Warm Relationship with 7 Children
    While John Wayne’s illustrious career spanned over 200 films and earned him an Oscar, his role as a father was equally significant and heartfelt, transcending the boundaries of the movie screen. Behind the scenes, John was a devoted and loving father to his seven children. Despite his demanding schedule and the pressures of fame, he made it a priority to be present in their lives, nurturing them with affection, guidance, and support.

    John Wayne had the joy of raising 3 sons named Patrick, Ethan, and Michael, and 4 daughters named Aissa, Marisa, Melinda, and Mary. Patrick, Mary, Michael, and Melinda were born during his marriage to his first wife, Josephine. Later in his life, John embarked on a new chapter of fatherhood with his third wife, Pilar Pallete, welcoming three more children into their loving home — Aissa, Ethan, and Marisa.

    A heartwarming moment unfolded as five of John Wayne’s children gathered for a special Q&A evening, offering heartfelt reminiscences of their beloved father. Among the cherished memories they shared were the countless family adventures embarked upon during vacations aboard the Wild Goose, a remarkable vessel that held a special place in their hearts. Originally a World War II minesweeper, John had transformed it into a family yacht, creating a haven where unforgettable moments were born.

    Patrick noted that his father John Wayne believed that childhood “should be filled with love.” “It was always a fun time when we all got together,” John’s daughter, Marisa, nostalgically recalled:

    “It was always a fun time when we all got together.”

    The passion for acting ran deep in the veins of Wayne’s children, as several of them chose to follow in their father’s illustrious footsteps. Among them, Ethan, Patrick, and their sister Marisa took acting lessons, and later it paid off.

    Patrick, in particular, emerged as a promising actor, gracing the screen in a notable repertoire of 40 films throughout his career. His journey began with a modest role in the film “Rio Grande”, for which he received $10. His last movie with his father was “Big Jake”.

    Melinda fondly recalled her father’s strong work ethic and the valuable life lessons he instilled in his children. John Wayne believed in the importance of hard work and responsibility, and he made sure that each of his children had their share of household chores.

    Ethan remembered his father, John, as a loving and affectionate presence in his life. Despite portraying tough characters on screen, Wayne’s demeanor off the set was one of warmth and tenderness. Ethan recounted cherished moments of his father picking him up, planting kisses on his head, and expressing his love for him:

    “I’d run and I’d jump, and he’d pick me up and twirl me around. A big bear hug. He’d always give you a hug or a kiss on the head. Tell you he loved you.”

    According to his children, John Wayne loved people. His daughter Aissa said that their father was always a “people person.” Aissa also remembered how merciful he was, even when one of them was guilty of something.

    In the face of his devastating diagnosis, John Wayne made it a priority to spend as much time as possible with his family. Knowing that their time together was limited, he took his youngest son Ethan with him to the film set, ensuring that they could make the most of the precious moments they had left.

    “He knew he wasn’t going to be around for me when I was older.”

    “He took with me on location,” Ethan explained. “I’d been homeschooled down on location in Mexico because he knew he wasn’t going to be around for me when I was older, and that he would probably lose me while I was a young, teenage man. So he took me with him when I was little,” John Wayne’s son recalled.

    “He never stopped being John Wayne, even when he was sick — and the work wasn’t easy for him.”

    His father was an example to Ethan of how to succeed in difficult circumstances. Today, Ethan serves as Chairman of John Wayne Enterprises and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

    “He looks so confident and alive. You’d never know he had only one lung and a bad knee and had been falling off horses for six decades. He never stopped being John Wayne, even when he was sick — and the work wasn’t easy for him,” said Wayne’s youngest son, Ethan. The boy was only 17 years old when his father died of cancer.

    Melinda noted that despite the fact that she and her siblings were living with their mother at the time of their father’s illness, they still kept in touch with him. She said, “When he was dying, he turned to my late brother, Michael, and said, ‘Whatever you do, use my name for the benefit of the public. If it weren’t for the public, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have had the life we had.’”

    In the final moments of John Wayne’s life, his children remained steadfastly by his side, providing unwavering support and comfort. As the weight of his battle with cancer took its toll, the once robust presence of the legendary actor began to diminish. On June 11, 1979, surrounded by the embrace of several family members, the Duke took his last breath. “Good bye, Dad,” said his son Patrick.

    Wayne’s daughter, Aissa, held her father’s hand. Before he took his last breath, she asked him if he knew who she was. In response, Wayne spoke his last words:

    “Of course, I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”

    Following the passing of John Wayne in 1979, his children were determined to honor their father’s memory and carry on his philanthropic legacy. In 1985, they came together to establish the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, a heartfelt tribute to the man who had fought his own battle against the disease. It was a fitting testament to their beloved father’s unwavering spirit and his enduring commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.

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