"John Wayne was a target of two communist dictators, a new biography of the actor says.
Joseph Stalin ordered the KGB to assassinate the actor because he considered his anti-communist rhetoric a threat to the Soviet Union, the book says, quoting close associates and Orson Welles.
Stalin apparently learned of Wayne's popularity from the Russian film-maker Sergei Gerasimov, who attended a peace conference in New York in 1949. Michael Munn, a film historian and author of John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, said Gerasimov told Stalin of Wayne's fervent anti-communist beliefs.
"Stalin decided that he would have him killed," said Munn, who says he was told of the plot by Orson Welles at a dinner in 1983. He said Welles had offered the story without prompting, and that his sources were excellent.
A prominent Russian filmmaker, Alexei Kapler, had told a colleague, Sergei Bondachuk, about the order, and he told Welles.
The book says that Stalin's order was cancelled by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, after the dictator's death in 1953. The book says Khrushchev told Wayne in a private meeting in 1958: "That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order."
Wayne also told Munn about an attempt to kill him by an enemy sniper while he was visiting the troops in Vietnam in 1966.
"One of the snipers was captured," Munn said, "and said there was a price on John's head, put there by Mao Zedong."
Munn said he had gathered the anecdotes over decades of work in the film industry."now here's a book worth buying...