April 5, 2011 / 9:39 PM / 9 years ago

John Wayne's "True Grit" eye-patch up for auction

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - John Wayne’s iconic eye-patch from his 1969 film “True Grit” and the Golden Globe award he won for playing drunken U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in the movie are to be sold at auction, Heritage Auctions said on Tuesday,

The eye patch worn by actor John Wayne for his role in "True Grit" is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters April 5, 2011. Wayne's personal items will go on auction in October, to benefit John Wayne Enterprises which supports and funds the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. REUTERS/Heritage Auctions/Handout

Billed as the first ever single-owner auction from John Wayne’s personal archive, the sale will take place in Los Angeles from October 3-6. It also includes items such as the actor’s cowboy boots and hats, driver’s license, passport and American Express card, and movie scripts annotated with Wayne’s handwriting.

Ethan Wayne, one of the actor’s sons and president of the family-owned John Wayne Enterprises, said that after his father died in 1979, the family never looked through Wayne’s personal items that were packed in storage until recently.

“We thought, what’s the best use of these items?” Ethan Wayne told Reuters in an interview.

“Museums already have special items like his artwork and memorabilia. And when my father died, we were allowed to pick a few items that were personal to us. The museums are covered and we’re covered. What’s the next checkbox? The fans.”

Ethan Wayne said he thought his father would approve of the auction because fans were just as important to the Oscar- winning American icon as his own family.

“All these are items could either stay stored somewhere, or be let loose to the people,” he said. “My family and I have a few personal items and a lot of memories, so turning the rest over to his fans is the right thing to do.”

John Wayne made more than 170 mostly Westerns and war movies before his death in June 1979 of stomach cancer at the age of 72.

Pre-sale estimates for individual items range from $100 to $50,000. Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions, said the sale would likely attract everyone from serious collectors to movie fans and the simply curious.

Some have the potential to “cross over from memorabilia to American History,” Ethan Wayne said, especially the personal correspondence between Wayne and several U.S. presidents including Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Dwight Eisenhower.

And for die-hard fans? There is the actor’s 1929/1930 ID card bearing his previous name Duke Morrison, from his time working as a prop man’s assistant shortly after losing his football scholarship due to an injury.

Ethan Wayne recalled that as a young man, he was not allowed to leave the house without carrying his father’s autographed cards in his pocket to hand out to fans.

“He had three secretaries five days a week opening fan mail and helping him answer it. My father knew that his fans provided him with the ability to continue doing what he loved to do and that they were responsible for letting him lead the lifestyle he had,” he said.

Prior to the October auction, a public exhibition of the John Wayne collection will be held in Dallas, Texas, and New York City in September.

Proceeds from the auction will go to John Wayne Enterprises which supports and funds the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

Editing by Jill Serjeant

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