American actors Lauren Bacall (1924–2014) and John Wayne (1907 - 1979) (as JB Books) in the film 'The Shootist' (directed by Don Siegel), 1976. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Old Hollywood Gladly Came To John Wayne’s Aid On The Set Of The Shootist
When producer Mike Frankovich cast “The Shootist,” he didn’t initially pursue John Wayne for the role of J.B. Brooks, a lawman-turned-gunfighter who is dying from cancer, because Wayne himself was battling cancer. Although Wayne’s declining health was a concern, Frankovich eventually chose him for the role, and ‘Old Hollywood’ stepped in to support the notable actor.
When Wayne was chosen, other legendary actors like James Stewart, Lauren Bacall, Richard Boone, Scatman Crothers, and Hugh O’Brian joined the cast to pay their respects, and some even took pay cuts for the experience. It wasn’t all fun and games, and Wayne freely complained of his poor health; as O’Brian recalled later, “We all felt it might be his last film.”
Bacall recalled, “One day [Wayne] said to me, ‘God I can’t drink, I can’t smoke, life’s no fun anymore.’ But he was still feisty, ornery in a way.” According to Bacall, “Every now and then we would just be standing next to one another and he’d kind of just hold my hand. One of the crew mentioned that it was a beautiful day, and he said, 'Every day you wake up is a beautiful day.’”