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Why Duke Likes Them Latin?—John Wayne

Several months ago when John Wayne was fighting his bitter divorce battle, the courtroom audience was fascinated by his wife Chata.

They looked at this expensively dressed young Mexican woman’s flushed complexion and broad features. They watched as she gradually became completely flustered and badgered and devoid of poise.

They listened to her on the witness stand, her voice hoarse and at times inaudible. And they turned to each other and mildly incredulous, they all asked one question:

“How come he married her?

At the time this was the question Duke Wayne was asking himself. He had no answer. Not then, anyway.

When the vitriol and acrimony raised by the mud-slinging had died down, he said kindly, “I know it sounds as if Chata and I did nothing but fight during our marriage. But that’s not true.

“In the beginning it was warm and wonderful and we had a lot of fun. She was pretty and regular and understanding. I expected it would get better but things just didn’t work out.”

Duke had used almost the same explanation in 1944 when he was divorced from Josephine Saenz, his first wife and the mother of-his four children. Like Chata, Josephine was of Mexican descent.

Having struck out twice with imports from the Latin American league, one might expect that Duke would now try to change his luck. As one of his employees suggested, “Maybe this time he should go to bat with a blonde from north of the Rio Grande.” But at this stage of his life, the hard-working Duke is settled in his ways.

Blondes leave him cold. Always have.

“Just a matter of taste,” he explains. The rugged six-foot four-inch he-man is a sucker for señoritas.

The third Mrs. Marion Mitchell Morrison (Duke’s real name) will surely be the black-eyed, black-haired beauty from Lima, Peru, twenty-four-year-old Pilar Pallete (pronounced pall-ette-ay).

By California law Duke cannot marry anyone until October 29, 1954, when he will receive his final divorce decree. If Pilar has obtained her divorce by that time, there will probably be a wedding.

DUKE AND PILAR are virtually inseparable these days. There doesn’t seem to be much danger of any sudden breakup.

Pilar worships Duke and he, in turn, is extremely proud of her, and with good reason. Pilar is quiet and well-bred and knows how to make a dollar stretch.

Duke introduced her to his friends at the Gay Nineties Party given by his agent, Ned Marin. Everybody approved of Pilar.

An actress, noted for her acid tongue, said, “It looks to me as if Duke’s gotten himself a winner in this girl. She’s very polite, very lady-like, very appreciative.

“Of course I think there are prettier girls right here in Hollywood but Pilar is certainly an improvement over Chata. She’s a naive sort, but I think Duke likes that type. Certainly they seem happy together.”

When Duke was asked why he preferred Latin American beauties to the home-grown varieties, he was candid as usual.

“Look,” he said. “I’m a fellow that happens to like girls. All girls. Only you can’t like everyone in the same degree.

“No nation has a monopoly on beauty. I consider Latin American girls very exciting, very warm, very lovely. They have a strong feeling for home-life, for family life. And so have I.

“I like to take my vacation in Mexico and countries below the border. The Latins know how to relax, how to take it easy. They’re never slaves to time. Up here ’m so darn busy it seems to me that I’m running all the time. That’s why I go South.

“When a man is relaxing in Mexico, he meets Mexicans. When he’s vacationing in Peru, he meets Peruvians. Years ago, if I’d taken a vacation in Sweden, maybe I would’ve wound up with a Swedish girl. Who knows? Friendships are frequently the result of geography and circumstance, and of course, individual taste.

“I happen to prefer brunettes. Sue me.”

Duke hates to discuss his private life. He doesn’t talk much about his plans with Pilar. When they were touring Las Vegas a few months ago, someone asked, “You two kids eloping?”

Pilar smiled and said nothing.

Duke merely grinned and muttered, “No. The judge made me promise that I wouldn’t get married until November.”

Marriage counselors say that when a man marries more than once, the chances are very good that his subsequent wives will resemble his first. They say hat unwittingly every man likes to improve on his failure, to start with some already known quantity.

Certainly this seems to be true of Duke Wayne. The failure of his first marriage to Josephine Saenz has been well hashed over. Some people claimed that Josephine was too social and that Wayne couldn’t abide that sort of tea-party life. But they didn’t know the Waynes.

More likely, the problems arose from the fact that Duke is Protestant and Josephine Catholic, and that, as the years went by, they began to grow apart.

There were four children in the ten-year period, but during that time, Duke was working so hard and so long that he spent very little time at home. He was just a beginner in the motion picture game, and he used to make a Western quickie in a little under three weeks.

Duke is a lusty, rugged, earthy, homespun man who enjoys the society of people like himself. To him the most important things are work, loyalty and love.

His first wife could not exactly understand or fit in with his philosophy. Duke has always believed in the sanctity of the home, and this divorce really broke him up. So he went down to Mexico.

In Mexico City he happened to meet Esperanza Bauer at a film luncheon. They started going together. Duke thought he had found a young woman who had all of Josephine’s virtues and none of her faults.

“I thought,” he was to say later, “that Chata would be satisfied with the simple things of life, a home, a family, friends.

“I didn’t expect any wife of mine to go on location and shoot craps “with the crew or to get loaded and fall all over herself in night clubs or to pair up with her old lady and hold a gun on me.”

Duke has always fallen for Latin American girls because he thinks they are brought up to respect the institution of marriage, to respect their husbands and to understand that in a man’s scheme of life, his work is paramount.

In Duke’s book, Latin American girls are rarely flighty or sophisticated.

“They have a realistic sense of values,” he once said. “And that’s very important in a marriage. And another thing—they are wonderful with children.

“My four kids, for example. They’re good kids and they’re well-behaved. And all the credit for that must go to their mother. Over the years she’s handled those children with complete mastery. And I’m as grateful to her for that as I can ever be.”

Duke was under the impression that Chata was a woman who would subjugate her way of life to his. It didn’t work out, and since the differences have been aired in court, there is no point in repeating them.

The crucial question is whether or not Pilar Pallete will be able to fill the role of Duke’s dream wife. Admittedly, Duke at forty-six, is not an easy man to live with. He is set in his ways, his friends, his business and his outlook.

At times he is brusque, ill-tempered and quick-to-anger, perhaps because he has consistently overworked in the mistaken belief that his popularity will be short-lived.

“An actor’s hot for only a very few years,” is one of his favorite remarks.

On the other hand, he is kind, considerate and generous to a fault. If he loves a woman the sky’s the limit.

Chata, for example, testified in court that her monthly household expenditures approximated $13,000. Cadillac convertible and had charge accounts in all the leading shops.

Even now she lives in a beautiful apartment in the swank Sunset Towers and lives extremely well on the $5,000 a month she gets from Duke as part of her alimony.

Duke also expects that his friends will become his wife’s friends. Bo Roos, Ward Bond, Jack Ford, Jimmy Grant, Paul Fix, the whole gang must be treated well.

Duke cannot abide snobbery or high-handedness in any form. And that goes double for deceit.

Obviously Wayne feels that Pilar Pallete can meet his requirements.

When he gives a girl his heart, he doesn’t give it lightly. His intentions have always been matrimonial and once he gets married he never strays. Although hundreds of dollars were spent by Chata and her attorney in an effort to uncover some evidence linking Duke with adultery in the seven years of their marriage, no such evidence was ever found.

When a wife disillusions him, he is quickly hurt and disgusted. And the next thing anyone knows he’s pulled out of Hollywood and is wandering over Central or South America.

Then he meets another Latin American beauty who rekindles his flame and faith in the essential goodness of wifehood.

That’s how Duke found Pilar Pallete.

They met in 1952 when Duke had flown to Peru to get Chata out of his mind and out of his heart. He knew by then the marriage was finished.

In Peru the heart-broken actor decided to scout some jungle locations for Wayne-Fellows production which was later shot in Mexico. He went up into the Peruvian jungle near the Amazon River where a local motion picture outfit was shooting Sabotage In The Jungle.

Pilar Pallete was playing one of the leads in this picture, and Duke was introduced to her. It wasn’t love at first sight, but there was rapport between these two.

One of Pilar’s friends who was secretary to producer Edward Movius, said, “Pilar knew all about Duke. After all, he’s one of the most famous movie Stars in the world. But Duke didn’t know anything about Pilar. It didn’t take him very long to find out. Pilar speaks good English. Also her eyes are very expressive.

“She was married to Dick Weldy, the Panagra public relations chief in Lima. She was his secretary, and when he got a divorce he married Pilar. So that Pilar knows what it is to live with an American. Anyway when she met Duke, she and Weldy were separated, and her divorce should come through any day now.

“Pilar comes from a respected Lima family. Her father was a senator and she and her three sisters were sent to good schools. When Pilar finished Lima High School she got a job as an airline hostess.

“Last year she flew up to Hollywood, and Duke gave her a screen test.”

Duke and Pilar have been going together ever since. And as her love for Duke has increased, Pilar’s desire for an acting career has waned.

She lives in a small apartment, makes many of her own clothes, and is Duke’s constant companion when he isn’t working.

Duke’s friends like her fine. “She’s a lady,” they say. She finds all of them great fun.

At a recent party she spent most of the night snapping pictures of all the guests with a new Polaroid camera Duke had given her. One director said to Wayne, “Duke, I like Pilar. She is the first actress Ive ever met who would rather take pictures than pose for them.”

Duke grinned.

“Pilar’s okay,” he said. Then he walked over and slipped his arm around her shoulder. As the guests watched him, they all understood that it was just a question of time before she would become his wife.





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