John Wayne struggled with ill-health, confessed ‘I’m on borrowed time’ when John Ford died | Films | Entertainment

The iconic Western filmmaker John Ford died 49 years ago today after a battle with stomach cancer at the age of 78. The director of John Wayne classics such as The Searchers and Stagecoach saw his health deteriorating terribly in the early 1970s.

After breaking a hip, Ford had to get used to a wheelchair and was moved from his Bel Air home to Palm Desert to be treated for cancer.

In October 1972, the Screen Directors Guild paid tribute to him and in March the following year, the American Film Institute honoured the director with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

If that wasn’t enough, President Richard Nixon promoted the World War II veteran to full Admiral and presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Upon news of his death on August 31, long-term collaborator John Wayne admitted to journalists: “I’m living on borrowed time.”

Ford was truly a complex character. Brilliant and eccentric, he would chew through the corners of a dozen handkerchiefs while smoking a pipe each day. 

For all his talents he was also known for having a furious temper and would bait his actors to get better performances out of them.

On set, he also discouraged chatting and bad language in front of women and insisted on an Earl Grey tea break each afternoon.

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