John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Speaking as an actress, I wish all actors would be more like Duke and speaking as a person, it would be nice if all people could be honest and as genuine as he is. This is a real man – Maureen O Hara

In a small town slightly southwest of Des Moines, IA is a tiny four room house that stakes claim to being the birthplace of one of America’s most celebrated actors: John Wayne. The future actor was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907 as Marion Robert Morrison.

Now the small rural town is making the most of its former resident by boasting about his birthplace with a museum and tours of his childhood home.

The John Wayne Birthplace and Museum (JWBM) is open daily from 10 to 5 pm (winter 10 to 4pm). Its tickets are priced so it’s affordable for anyone. The cost is $15, with discounts for children and seniors, to experience the truly unique life of Marion Robert Morrison. 

johnwaynestatuePeople that appreciate celebrity-driven attractions will enjoy the museum and gift shop. The museum is small, but it has an impressive array of personal John Wayne photos, movie memorabilia and stories that even a casual fan will appreciate, including an explanation on how the nickname”Duke” came about.

IMG_6363As for the gift shop, it is free to visit and has lots of products and merchandise. A Crow’s View suggests purchasing a JWBM pen or pencil; at .50¢ each, they are affordable and easily the best priced items in the store.

I found the house that Marion Robert Morrison, aka John Wayne, was born in more interesting.  Although the actual room of Wayne’s birth is lost to history, its historical significance to American cinema and pop culture is undeniable.

Touring Wayne’s childhood home is a stark reminder of the American dream; moreover, it is a powerful illustration that a child born in such humble circumstances can eventually rise to stardom. In Morrison’s case, he went on to become John Wayne a Hollywood legend and an icon, if not a national treasure.

The JWBM is a must see for any ardent fan of John Wayne. It’s worth checking out. Like John Wayne, it’s distinctly American.