The iconic Western star John Wayne was a massive movie star in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. An entire generation of actors watched the American star claim an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in 1969’s True Grit.
Throughout the years he would receive countless letters from fans who requested letters back and signed photos. But they didn’t always get it right.
The official John Wayne Instagram account posted the memory last year complete with photos of the letter.
The account captioned the image: “Duke knew how important his fans were to his career and at one point had four secretaries to write back to all the fan mail he received. Swipe to see a letter from a young fan who mistook Duke for Steve McQueen & his response #JohnWayneArchive.”
Wayne was sent a letter from a ten-year-old boy named Ross who loved the actor. However, he got some key details a little wrong.
Ross’ letter read: “Dear Mr Wayne, I love the movie Bulit and I thought your acting was great. I would like to know if I could have a autographed picture of you. I would like to see you some day.” (sic)
Of course, Wayne was not well known for playing the titular hero Bullitt in the 1968 action thrill-ride. Instead, that honour went to none other than Steve McQueen.
McQueen was also a massive Hollywood actor in his own right. And he and Wayne were good friends behind the scenes. So he sent Ross’ letter on to McQueen with a personal note of his own.
McQueen was credited to be the driver in the various thrilling chase sequences throughout the film.
But in reality, it was shared between him and Bud Ekins, one of Hollywood’s best-known stunt drivers at the time.
When McQueen really is driving in the car, his face can be clearly seen in the car’s rearview mirror. At all other times, Ekins is the star behind the wheel.
McQueen wasn’t perfect on the road, however.
During the filming of Bullitt, there was a lot of car choreography to remember. So then, when McQueen was supposed to make a hard turn during a car chase, he panicked when he missed it.
He slammed on the brakes, moved to reverse and pulled off the iconic burnout to manoeuvre himself into position. This move wasn’t in the script, but it looked so good that director Peter Yates kept it in.