From the inside flap of Shooting Star, published in 1974, five years before John Wayne's death: "Of all the bigger-than-life characters that the movies have ever boasted, none has ever loomed larger than John Wayne. Apart from his physique and personality his box-office appeal is unmatched in movie history. Wayne has starred in 17 of the 100 highest-grossing films of all time, and his pictures have grossed more collectively than those of any other star—well over $400,000,000!
"What is the appeal that has made a Superman of Duke Wayne? As one movie critic put it, writing about his most recent film: "Now that everything is sliding downhill, the whole country creeping towards the San Andreas fault as if it were determined to vanish there, Watergate, the energy crisis, inflation and all, it is odd and paradoxical that one thing at least remains, resisting the pull, beyond all change, as eternal as the faces of the presidents on Mt. Rushmore—John Wayne, standing tall, older, slightly stooped, impatiently puzzled by other people's doubts and ideas, still and forever Duke Wayne...Across the country there are men who yearn for a simpler form of masculinity, who are more shocked by contemporary ambiguity than by decadence, and here is Wayne to show them and us that the old riches we doubted were right after all, that men are happy in the company of men, that a gun is ht best argument clincher, that you don't coddle 'punks,' that it's OK to eat suspects up before giving them the Miranda warning."
"Born Marion Robert Morrison, a high school and college football hero, the young actor who took the name John Wayne was for years featured in nothing but pedestrian Westerns. From there he moved on to become the leading man to many of the great women stars of that period, including Marlene Dietrich, Claire Trevor, Paulette Goddard, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Susan Hayward, and Joan Crawford. Then suddenly he emerged as that giant figure, Duke Wayne, a magnificent and wildly successful star in his own right, the closest associate and lifelong friend of the screen's greatest director of all time, John Ford.
Wayne is a man of many paradoxes. He was the most popular drawing card for decades but was consistently overlooked by the Oscar awards bestower until, in the twilight of his career, he finally received that recognition. He is a 100 percent super-American, but all three of his marriages were to Latin women. He has been a sometimes misguided but consistently idealistic patriot, whose militantly conservative political convictions almost destroyed him for reasons he never comprehended
Maurice Zolotow has written a remarkably candid and objective biography about his friend. It is a book that any film fan will find engrossing, whether a Duke Wayne admirer or not, for it as an honest story of a truly epic figure."