John Wayne almost died on film combative co-star called ‘biggest piece of crap’ | Films | Entertainment

Back in 1968, John Wayne starred in Hellfighters, an early disaster movie based on the life of Red Adair, about a group of oil well firefighters.

The film, which celebrates its 55th anniversary this week, was the first time Duke was paid $1 million (almost $9 million today) for a picture.

Wayne played Chance Buckman with The Searchers co-star Vera Miles as his ex-wife Madelyn and Katharine Ross as their daughter Tish.

The latter would have many arguments on set with the conservative Western legend over his vocal support for the Vietnam War.

Ross also didn’t hold back on what she thought of the movie, even during its production.

Asked to comment on Hellfighters during the shoot, Ross said: “It’s the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever done!” When the reporter asked Miles to respond to this, she thought for a second before replying: “Well, it’s not the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever done!”

This would prove somewhat prophetic for Ross as the movie was critically panned, with much of the negativity aimed at the overlong plot and boring characterisation. Meanwhile, Wayne himself was lucky to leave the shoot with his life after surviving a close shave.

During filming, Duke was resting inside his trailer when a catering truck crashed right into it.

Luckily for the Hollywood star and the production, he amazingly wasn’t injured and lived another 11 years before his death from cancer in 1979.

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