One of the biggest stars of Hollywood, John Wayne (1907-1979), isn't buried in Hollywood, or even in Los Angeles county, for that matter. "The Duke" is buried in Newport Beach, out in Orange County, about 15 miles southeast of Disneyland. If you've ever been to the mall at Newport Fashion Island, you've been close to John Wayne's final resting place without even knowing it.
As a student and football player at U.S.C., young Marion Morrison began his career in show biz when cowboy star Tom Mix got him a job as a propman at 20th Century Fox, where he was discovered by John Ford, the man who would direct some of his best films.
He changed his name to John Wayne, and went on to star in countless Westerns at Republic Pictures, before hitting the big time with movies such as "Stagecoach" (1939), "Wake of the Red Witch" (1948), "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949), "The Quiet Man" (1952), "Hondo" (1953), "Rio Bravo" (1959), "The Searchers" (1956), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), "Big Jake" (1971) and "True Grit." (1969, for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor).
But despite the Duke's clean-living image, it was an old-fashioned, All-American vice that finally killed him. John Wayne smoked five packs of cigarettes a day. When his health began to fail, he moved from his home in Beverly Hills to the fresh air of the Newport Bay near Balboa, where he liked to pilot his yacht, "The Wild Goose." He died of lung cancer in 1979, and was buried at Pacific View Memorial Park, just a few miles northeast of his island home. Pacific View lives up to its name.
Perched atop a low hill, east of the Newport Fashion Island mall, this large cemetery overlooks the blue Pacific Ocean to the south.
It's no surprise that John Wayne would be buried in Orange County, the most Republican district in America. The conservative residents of this county admired the Duke so much that they named their international airport after him. In fact, John Wayne Airport is only about four miles away from Pacific View. They even erected a statue of John Wayne outside the airport.
But the good news is that he finally has a headstone. And a very nice headstone it is, a bronze plaque featuring an image of Wayne astride a horse, near the Alamo.
To find the Duke's grave, enter the cemetery via the main gate, drive past the Court of Valor flags, and you'll reach a fork in the road. Go to the left, up the hill. Near the top of the hill, you'll see two almost identical outdoor mausoleums (called the "Lagunita Courts") on your right side. Park your car between these two mausoleums - between the "Lagunita Courts." (There will be two brown marble slabs upright near the curb, with the name "Barkouras" on both of them.) Now turn around (with your back to these mausoleums), and face the grassy slope on the other side of the street- you'll have a nice view of a local reservoir / lake. (Click on the photo above for a better view.)
John Wayne is buried on this grassy slope below, called "Bayview Terrace." Notice the largest tree in the area. Duke is buried just to the right of this tree (when you're facing down the slope). Walk down the grassy slope, exactly six rows of markers. John Wayne's grave is located five graves north (right) of the big tree, and six rows down from the curb.
Getting there: Pacific View Memorial Park is located in Newport Beach, just a short distance from Newport Fashion Island and Rogers Garden. / From the San Diego (405) Freeway, take the MacArthur Boulevard exit. Go south on MacArthur (past John Wayne Airport) about five miles, to San Joaquin Hills Road. Turn left (southeast) on San Joaquin Hills Road, and go about half a mile Marguerite Avenue. Turn left (north) up to the top of Marguerite, then turn right (east) on Pacific View Drive, which leads into the cemetery.
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