What Was John Wayne's First Movie?

By Robert Vaux ; Updated September 15, 2017

John Wayne is one of the most recognizable figures in American movies. It may surprise many people to learn that he had been making movies for a long time before finally achieving breakout success.

First Appearance

Wayne first appeared as an uncredited bit player in 1926's "Brown of Harvard." He had played football in college, which suited him for the role of a Yale player in the film.

First Appearance With John Ford

Wayne's career owes a great deal to John Ford, who directed him in a number of classic films. Their first collaboration took place in 1928, in a trio of films--"Four Sons," "Mother Machree" and "Hangman's House"--which featured Wayne as an uncredited extra.

First Accreditation

The first film to give Wayne onscreen credit was "Words and Music" in 1929. He was cited as Duke Morrison. Wayne's actual name was Marion Morrison and he always preferred the nickname of Duke.

First Appearance as John Wayne

Wayne's first starring role was also the first one to use his iconic stage name: 1930's "The Big Trail." Director Raoul Walsh came up with the name for him.

Big Break

The first film which cemented Wayne's status as a star was the classic "Stagecoach" in 1939. It was directed by John Ford.