John Wayne has been honored on the 100th anniversary of the year of his birth with a larger-than-life bronze statue at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Two of Wayne’s grandchildren, Anita LaCava Swift and Nick Kuhle, attended the unveiling Saturday of the 8-foot, 8-inch statue depicting the actor in cowboy boots, spurs, chaps and a hat, holding a rifle in his left hand and wearing a gun belt and holster.
“It’s always an amazing thing for our family whenever we get to be out among his fans because he’s almost been dead for 30 years, but there are 3-year-old children who come up to me and tell me how much they love him,” Swift said.
“It’s just incredible. It was great to have an icon like that as your grandfather,” Kuhle said.
Wayne was a leader of the museum and served as a trustee from the museum’s opening in 1965 until his death in 1979.
“He believed in what this place could be about, and he invested himself in it. ... He was here for our groundbreaking, here for many of our early events, bringing this place out of the ground because he believed in the message we were going to deliver here,” said Chuck Schroeder, the museum’s executive director.
Sculptor Edward J. Fraughton said he modeled the statue after the middle years of Wayne’s career and tried “to portray him in a real epic form rather than as an individual in a particular film.”