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Glendale High School to change auditorium name to honor movie legend John Wayne

January 17, 2014|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com
  • John Wayne's senior photo in the 1925 yearbook from Glendale High when he was known as Marion Morrison.
John Wayne's senior photo in the 1925 yearbook from… (Courtesy of Glendale…)

In honor of one of the most famous icons who has ever lived in the city, Glendale High School will change the name of its auditorium to the John Wayne Performing Arts Center, after the legendary actor who is not otherwise recognized in the city where he came of age.

Before he took on his stage name, Marion Morrison attended what was then Glendale’s only high school, then called Glendale Union High School.

The future western film star played on the school’s football team, served as class president during his senior year and acted in school productions before graduating in 1925.

Glendale Unified officials announced this week they have received permission from John Wayne Enterprises to use the actor’s name for the school’s performing arts center.

“This is something we’ve been talking about for years,” said Glendale school board member Greg Krikorian.

The idea was first proposed by a Glendale High student several years ago, and kicked into gear recently by educators who sought permission to use Wayne’s name.

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John Wayne was born in 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, and moved with his family to Glendale in 1916. According to an online timeline maintained by John Wayne Enterprises, it was Glendale firefighters who gave Wayne his nickname, Duke, which was also the name of his family’s dog that he often took with him when visiting a firehouse in his neighborhood.

Wayne’s son, Ethan Wayne, said Glendale High was “where his path in drama really started.” John Wayne would go on to appear in more than 175 movies during his career, which spanned 50 years.

Patrick Lancaster, who teaches journalism at Glendale High and serves as the yearbook adviser, has kept a copy of the 1925 student yearbook in which Wayne is pictured five times because he was so active — playing on the football team, serving as chairperson of the senior dance and being elected class president.

“No one could have known what was in store for him,” Lancaster said.

“I think it’s really nice,” Ethan Wayne said of the school paying tribute to his father. “He liked learning, he liked sports, he liked activities,” he said, adding that his father was bound to find success whether in the movie industry or not, because of his involvement in so many activities.

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