This is the 45th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.
When you came riding into town, varmints scrambled, dance hall girls powdered their noses, and yellow-bellies ran for the hills.
You ambled into our hearts, stiffened our spines, and made us stand taller.
From the sands of Iwo Jima to the gates of the Alamo, you taught us all a lesson.
Sure, your movies were play-acting.
But they showed that our true strength is in our people.
The worker on the production line, the fighting man, truck driver, waitress, miner, farmer, nurse, cowboy.
Wherever you’re going, Duke, roll yourself a smoke, take a slug of whiskey, lean back, put a thumb under your suspenders –
and take pride that you taught us the true meaning of grit.
John Wayne gave more to America than he took from America.
How many of us can say the same?
One of my fondest childhood memories was when my Mom and Dad took me and my two sisters to New York City to see True Grit at Radio City Music Hall (here’s a review of the movie from The New York Times, 1969). I remember how big the screen was, the Rockettes performing at intermission (yes, an intermission!), and just the overall excitement of being in New York City for the day.
I think we also saw The Love Bug movie at Radio City Music Hall, but True Grit stands out because of John Wayne. Was there any better place to watch someone who was larger than life than on one of the world’s largest movie screens?
Another one of my favorite John Wayne movies is The Quiet Man, not only because of the Irish setting, but because of the classic fight scene between Wayne and Victor McLaglen.
John Wayne was one of the greatest stars of the Golden Age of film, and in many ways exemplified what America stood for.
The only item I would change in this ad from the summer of 1979 is the part about rolling a smoke. While that is certainly an image that Wayne had, both on and off screen, I think even he would have preferred that such a habit was not mentioned.
According to Wikipedia, Wayne believed that his lung cancer was a result of his six-packs-a-day cigarette habit. Six-packs a day! I can’t even…
Anyway, a tip of the hat to John Wayne, an American national treasure.