Photo of the Birthplace of John Wayne, in Winterset, Iowa

Weekly Gem #118 He was such a big baby! But not such a surprise, considering how he turned out.

Published 5/20/2017

Location: This hidden gem is located on the corner of East South and South Second streets in Winterset, Iowa (see the Clue Me! Map). It was the first home of this larger than life person who started out pretty large as well. Thirteen pounds at birth. Well, that’ll get your attention!

Who was this big baby?!?

Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim. We’ve got a couple clues for you.

First off, this fella hung out with some fine people, such as Mississippi, Colorada (spelled as he pronounced it, though the correct spelling ends with ‘o’), and Stumpy.

If that doesn’t give you the answer, this quote surely will:

“Slap some bacon on a biscuit and let’s go! We’re burnin’ daylight!” ~ Wil Anderson in “The Cowboys.”

You guessed it. Wil Anderson was played by Marion Robert Morrison, aka Marion Mitchell Morrison (after his parents decided to name the next son Robert), aka Marion Michael Morrison (after a mistake that stuck), aka Duke Morrison (relating to a childhood dog), aka Anthony Wayne (which “sounded too Italian”), aka John Wayne.

Not only was John Wayne a big baby, but he was a cheater!

“I wouldn’t make a habit of calling me that, son!” ~ John Wayne, playing Wil Anderson

“Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim.” This is kinda funny. John Wayne liked to play chess, and he would surreptitiously slide chess pieces with his pinky while making a legitimate move. He liked to see how long it would take for the opponent to notice, then how much longer to build up the courage to call him on it. Once caught, he’d play fair.


Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.


A home fit for a king ... how about, fit for a duke?


Birthplace of John Wayne.

Why It's Interesting

Marion Mitchell Morrison a.k.a. John Wayne was born here. He was a big baby weighing 13 pounds. He got his nickname, "The Duke" because when he was a young boy, he used to walk by a fire station with his Airedale named "Duke." The firemen would call them Big Duke and Little Duke. He preferred being called, "Duke" to his name, "Marion," so the nickname stuck.

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