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John Wayne: What Was the Cowboy Icon’s Net Worth at Time of Death?

(Photo Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/ Getty Images)

Being a cowboy in real life may be challenging, but John Wayne proves that playing one on TV has a pretty nice payday. 

John Wayne was known as Hollywood’s beloved cowboy during his nearly 50 years in the entertainment industry.

Between 1926 and 1977, John Wayne appeared in over 170 movies and was seen as one of the biggest names in Hollywood. 

Net Worth

In June of 1979, the star died after a nearly 15-year battle with stomach cancer. But what was John Wayne’s net worth at the time is his unfortunate death at the age of 72?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Wayne has nearly $50 million to spread between the Duke’s seven children. 

The site reports that the actor, director, and producer had about $7 million when he died in 1979, which equals about $25 million in today’s money. Even forty years after his death, Wayne has been able to double his net worth. 

In addition, his real estate was valued at $1 million, with house in Arizona, Newport Harbor, California, and Washington. Wayne’s personal assets and investments rack in another $6 million.

John Wayne also earned around $100,000, nearly $350,000 in today’s money, from passive income from movie royalties and investments. 

When John Wayne Took Over Hollywood

The cowboy didn’t jump right into the business, however. Like most, he started at the bottom as a prop boy and extra and slowly moved up the rank to the very top. 

In 1930, John Wayne landed his first role as lead. Raoul Walsh saw the 23-year-old man working on set movie studio furniture and cast him for the part of Breck Coleman in the film “The Big Trail.”

Although, John Wayne wasn’t an overnight star. After the movie was seen as a bust, he was demoted to many minor roles. Wayne also worked in “about 80 low-budget horse opera films from 1930 to 1939.”

The movie that made John Wayne a household name came with John Ford’s hit, “Stagecoach” in 1939. Wayne was just 32 at the time, setting him up for a lifetime of success.

Over the next 20 years, John Ford stuck close to the actor, using him in two dozen movies. 

With many big-name films under this cowboy’s buckle, some of the most notable are “True Grit” in 1969, the 1976 film “The Shootist,” “The Searchers” in 1956, and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in 1962.