Resurfaced Playboy interview with Hollywood icon John Wayne reveals racist and homophobic comments

Resurfaced Playboy interview with Hollywood icon John Wayne reveals racist and homophobic comments

A fairly shocking interview with John Wayne has resurfaced in which the actor makes numerous racist and homophobic comments.

In 1971, the True Grit star did an interview with Playboy magazine, claiming that he believed in white supremacy until "the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility".

Speaking to Contributing Editor Richard Warren Lewis, the filmmaker also claimed, among other things, that the movie Midnight Cowboy was "perverted" due to its homoerotic undertones.

John Wayne (1907 - 1979), US actor wearing a tan leather waistcoat, a pink shirt and a white neckerchief, in a studio portrait, against a light blue background, circa 1970. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images) Credit: Getty

In the interview, which went viral after being tweeted in part by Tennessee-based screenwriter Matt William, Wayne, then 63, said:

"Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two f**s, qualifies? But don’t get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman is concerned, I’m awfully happy there’s a thing called sex. It's an extra something God gave us. I see no reason why it shouldn't be in pictures. Healthy, lusty sex is wonderful."

The Western star was then asked about political activist Angela Davis’s claims that those who wanted to revoke her teaching credentials on ideological grounds were actively discriminating against her because of her black skin. He responded by stating he didn't believe in "giving authority and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people."

"With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so," he said. "But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people."

When questioned on whether he was equipped to judge which black people were "irresponsible" and which black leaders "inexperienced", he replied:

"It's not my judgement. The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically. But some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the test and don't have the requisite background."

When Lewis replied that society was "never likely to rectify the inequities in our educational system until some sort of remedial education is given to disadvantaged minority groups," Wayne said that he wasn't "condoning slavery", but there still had to be a "standard" in education.

He said:

"I don’t know why people insist that blacks have been forbidden their right to go to school. They were allowed in public schools wherever I’ve been. Even if they don’t have the proper credentials for college, there are courses to help them become eligible."

"But if they aren’t academically ready for the step, I don’t think they should be allowed in. Otherwise, the academic society is brought down to the lowest common denominator … There has to be a standard. I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.

Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) and Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter) confront a Native American woman (Beulah Archuletta) in The Searchers. (Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) Credit: Getty

"Now, I’m not condoning slavery. It’s just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can’t play football with the rest of us. I will say this, though: I think any black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they’d tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America."

In addition, the Stagecoach star spoke harshly about Native American people when asked if he felt any empathy for them, considering they played an important role in his films.

"I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them if that’s what you’re asking," said Wayne. "Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. They were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."

He continued: "Look, I’m sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can’t be blamed on us today."

After the interview went viral - with Williams naming Wayne "a straight-up piece of s**t" in his tweet - the actor's family spoke out in his defence, claiming it was "unfair" to judge someone on what they said almost 50 years ago.

"We hope America remembers John Wayne as we do: a devoted family man, great friend and cherished actor on the big screen, as well as for his continuing work to find a cure for cancer through the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and the John Wayne Cancer Institute," the John Wayne family wrote in a statement.

They continued: "It’s unfair to judge someone on something that was written that he said nearly 50 years ago when the person is no longer here to respond. Regardless of colour, ethnicity or sexual preference, [our] father taught us to treat all people the same, with respect."