John Wayne’s Rio Grande set tragedy saw cast killed and bodies never recovered | Films | Entertainment

Back in 1950, John Wayne starred in Rio Grande, the third of his Cavalry Trilogy (alongside Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) with director John Ford.

Cast and crew struggled terribly with the extremely hot Utah location, with sets and stages having to be built in such challenging conditions.

To make matters worse the actors had to perform in heavy period costumes of the 19th century.

Although at least Duke was able to wear a smaller toupee to look slightly older as his Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke character.

The film would also be his first of five starring roles opposite Maureen O’Hara, who shared a set tragedy from production in her autobiography.

In O’Hara’s memoir Tis Herself – which also recounted the bruising left by Wayne spanking her on McLintock! – the leading lady shared how some stuntmen died during the shooting of Rio Grande.

The unfortunate cast members fell from their horses during a scene in the middle of a muddy river and tragically their bodies were allegedly never recovered.

On a lighter note, the notorious director John Ford managed to prank visiting Hollywood producers on set.

Ford couldn’t stand Hollywood executives badgering him when he was trying to work. The filmmaker was particularly enraged when producer Herbert J Yates and Republic executive Rudy Ralston showed up demanding he get on with filming when it was already 10 in the morning.

The story goes that the director replied: “Just as soon as you get the hell off my set” before he played a practical joke on them at suppertime.

Ford hired one of his actors Alberto Morin to pretend to be a French waiter with poor English. And during the meal he “accidentally” broke plates and spilt soup on the Hollywood suits, who never managed to realise what was really going on.

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