John Wayne and Winston Churchill were related. Wayne, whose real last name was Morrison, was a fifth cousin twice removed of the British Prime Minister. The Morrisons were related to the family of Churchill’s American mother Jennie Jerome. But the connections between the two men go beyond this and will be the subject of a talk coming this summer hosted by the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum in Winterset, Iowa.
Professor David Freeman, Director of Publications for the International Churchill Society, will speak about the mutual admiration between Churchill and Wayne, who never met and were unaware of their multiple family links. The talk will take place at the Winterset Public Library at 1 pm on Saturday, July 7th. Wayne was born in Winterset in 1907.
Winterset is approximately thirty miles southwest of Des Moines in Madison County and famous for its covered bridges popularized in the novel and film The Bridges of Madison County. The scenic town has also been the setting for other films including the 1971 comedy Cold Turkey.
Winston Churchill was the grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, and John Wayne picked up his famous moniker as “The Duke” when growing up in California after his family left Iowa. Since learning about the family connections, International Churchill Society President Randolph Churchill now likes to speak of having “two dukes in the family.”