Josephine Wayne, Truth about John Wayne’s Ex-wife

Josephine Wayne

Josephine Wayne was the ex-wife of John Wayne. Josephine’s ex-husband, John was an American actor and filmmaker who became a popular icon through his starring roles in films made during Hollywood’s Golden Age, especially in Western and war movies. Josephine Wayne was the first woman John took to the alter.

Josephine Wayne: Profile Summary

NameJosephine Alicia Saenz Wayne
Famous asEx-wife of John Wayne
Date of BirthMay 13, 1908
BirthplaceEl Paso, El Paso County, Texas, United States of America
Age at time of death95 years old
Date of DeathJune 24, 2003
place of death California, United States of America
Zodiac SignCancer
SpousesCyril Nigg (m. 1996–1999), John Wayne (m. 1933–1945)
Children Patrick Wayne, Mary Antonia Wayne LaCava, Michael Wayne, Melinda Wayne Munoz
Parents José Saenz, Alicia Acosta

Josephine Wayne was the first wife of American film actor John Wayne. She had four children including film producer Michael Wayne and actor Patrick Wayne.

Josephine Wayne was born 13 May 1908 in El Paso, El Paso County, Texas, the United States to Jose Santos Saenz Macho and Alicia Acosta and died 24 June 2003 North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, the United States of unspecified causes.

As said earlier, Josephine Wayne was born on May 13, 1908, she was born to the Consul General of Panama in the United States, José Saenz, a wealthy businessman who lived in Los Angeles, California.

How did the two former love birds meet and fall in love and get married? Aged 15 or 16 when Josephine Wayne whose name then was Josephine Saenz met John Wayne, an actor in college still named Marion Morrison, while at a beach party in Balboa, California. Their relationship met with considerable resistance from her Catholic family because he was a Presbyterian.

After courting for seven years, John Wayne’s financial status improved considerably due to his success at the box office, and he was able to convince her family to allow him to marry Josephine. The couple married on June 24, 1933, in a garden ceremony at actress Loretta Young’s home in the presence of their family, friends, and loved ones.

John and Josephine Wayne had four children: Michael Wayne (film producer, November 23, 1934 – April 2, 2003), Mary Antonia “Toni” Morrison-LaCava (February 25, 1936 – December 6, 2000), Patrick Wayne (born July 15, 1939) and Melinda Morrison-Muñoz (born December 3, 1940).

After some years of peaceful marriage life, the marriage was in trouble. John worked long hours in his career and was always surrounded by associates from the film world. Josephine Wayne and the husband also had differences of opinion about how their children should be raised. In 1943 they separated and eventually divorced in 1945. She remarried in 1996 to her second husband Cyril Nigg (who died March 1999), a Los Angeles businessman. Josephine Wayne’s second husband was head of Bell Brand Snack Foods. He was known as a major philanthropist for his alma mater UCLA. He died in 1999.

Josephine Wayne died in 2003, at age 95, from cancer, having been predeceased by two of her children, Michael and Toni.

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Josephine Wayne’s ex-husband John openly differed with many conservatives over the issue of returning the Panama Canal, as he supported the Panama Canal Treaty in the mid-1970s; while Republican leaders such as Reagan, Jesse Helms, and Strom Thurmond had wanted the U.S. to retain full control of the canal, Wayne and fellow conservative William F. Buckley believed that the Panamanians had the right to the canal and sided with President Jimmy Carter. Wayne was a close friend of Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos Herrera, and as said earlier, John’s first wife Josephine Wayne was a native of Panama. His support of the treaty brought him hate mail for the first time in his life.

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Although he enrolled in a cancer vaccine study in an attempt to ward off the disease, Josephine Wayne’s ex-husband, John also died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, at the UCLA Medical Center. He was buried in the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach. According to his son Patrick and his grandson Matthew Muñoz, who was a priest in the California Diocese of Orange, Wayne converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death. He requested that his tombstone read “Feo, Fuerte y Formal”, a Spanish epitaph Wayne described as meaning “ugly, strong, and dignified”. His grave, which was unmarked for 20 years, has been marked since 1999 with the quotation:

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.

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