John Wayne knew his’marriage was over’ when he had his fourth baby. His wife asked priest for help.

John Wayne knew Josephine Saenz was leaving him when she wouldn’t stop talking about their extramarital affairs, even though she promised that she would in front of the priest she invited to save their marriage. 

Before John Wayne became a bankable star in Hollywood, the veteran star had won a football scholarship to the University of Southern California in 1925, where he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. 

Sadly, after about two years at the School, he suffered an injury that took him off the football field and ended his scholarship. One of his fraternity brothers took him on a blind date with Carmen Saenz, a beautiful girl.

[Left]John Wayne in portrait [Right]John Wayne at the set| Source: Getty Images

After having gone to Balboa’s Rendezvous Ballroom, they returned to their home to meet the girl. Wayne met her sister Josephine Saenz, and he was immediately attracted to the girl. 

But, the girl was skeptical about Wayne’s intentions. Their relationship was also rejected by her parents because Wayne was a football player who had been in a bad marriage. Lost his scholarship. 

John Wayne holds a rifle in a publicity photograph for Shepherd of the Hills. | Source: Getty Images

Wayne’s friend William Bakewell was with Loretta Young. He became very close to his sisters, all Catholics. 

The sisters had a friend called Josephine Sáenz, who had attended Convent with them. She was close to the Youngs and was always at their house, where she felt like a family member. 

It allowed Wayne to meet Sáenz, and the pair started going out together. The actor was swooned by Sáenz because she was unlike any other woman he had met. 

Source : Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

Unlike his mother, Sáenz was classy, and she embodied intelligence, breeding, and composure. Her father was a doctor and also very accomplished. He was appointed consul to Los Angeles by El Salvador, Panama, Dominican Republic and Dominican Republic. 

Wayne fell in love with Sáenz very quickly, but the latter was skeptical about him. They were also not supported by their family. 

His reputation as a football player who was a product of a failed marriage and was now living in Glendale didn’t help his cause. Wayne and Sáenz were from different social classes, and they felt the former was punching above his weight. 

John Wayne, motion picture actor and his bride, Miss Josephine Saenz (ex-Miss Josephine Saenz), daughter of Dr. Jose Saenz in Los Angeles. Source: Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

Sáenz’s parents, however, liked that Wayne was sincere, and their daughter, on her part, was quite impressed by the actor’s looks. Sáenz and Wayne found a way to keep their relationship alive for years, although her parents would not agree to marriage until Wayne proved he could take care of their daughter.

In December 1932, Wayne and Sáenz finally announced their engagement. The New York Times reported it as well. Loretta Young’s Bel Air residence was where the couple exchanged marital vows. A priest from the Church of Immaculate conception conducted the ceremony. 

Henry Fonda and Grant Withers, the couple’s friends, were present at their ceremony. Wayne’s Sigma Chi Fraternity brothers provided the best men, and ushers. 

Screen actor weds daughter of Latin American Consul. John Wayne, motion-pic actor, and his wife, the former Miss Josephine Saenz Panamanian Consul in Los Angeles. Photographed after their marriage at Loretta Young’s Los Angeles residence.| Source: Getty Images

After getting married, the couple moved into a three bedroom apartment in Hancock Park. This was close to the parents of the bride so that they could be part of her social circle. 

Wayne informed his wife as he was setting up their apartment’s housekeeping that he wouldn’t handle the tasks of fixing light bulbs and doing yard work, since he had enough money to hire professionals. 

Spencer Tracy relaxes on a deck chair with John Wayne and Josephine Wayne. Source: Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

Actor John Travolta equated housework like this with poverty. This was a life he lived as a child and one he didn’t want to repeat. 

They became parents soon after their marriage when they had their first child, Michael in 1934. Anthonia, Patrick, and Melinda followed him in 1936. 

Source: Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

Wayne loved his wife, but the actor could not reject the temptations of Hollywood, and he occasionally cheated on Sáenz. Wayne was not an insincere womanizer and felt guilty about his actions. According toPaul Fix, his friend and confidant: 

“Duke [Wayne] would occasionally stray, but he always felt so guilty about cheating on Josephine, he usually broke it off as quick as he could.”

Their marriage was allegedly problematic because while Wayne was marrying someone in a higher social class, Sáenz was marrying someone below, and she ultimately did not respect her husband’s profession. 

John Wayne, an actor on the screen, dines together with Josephine Saenz his wife. She is the daughter of Dr. Jose S. Saenz who was the Panamanian Consul to Los Angeles.| Source: Getty Images


Wayne started having an affair with his co-star, actress Marlene Dietrich, and during this period, he neglected Sáenz, who took up the role of the suffering wife. 

Although his affairs were much-publicized, Sáenz tried to keep their marriage together, and she asked a priest, Father McCoy, to come to their home and counsel her husband about his extramarital affairs.

The movie star was horrified that his wife had sought out advice from a priest about domestic matters. He listened to Father McCoy, and promised to stop seeing Dietrich if he stopped talking about his relationship. 

John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich discuss the set of “The Spoilers”Ray Enright, circa 1942. Source: Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

However, as soon as the priest left, Sáenz raised the issue again, and it was at this point Wayne realized their marriage was over. 

Wayne had been involved with several actresses over the years and many people, including Carolyn Roos Olsen (the daughter of Wayne’s businessman), believed that their separation was a tragedy. They could not remain together after Wayne’s actions.

Olsen disclosed that everyone believed Sáenz’s religion was strict, and she had restricted Wayne’s access to her body after four kids because she did not want more. This was the reason why the actor began having affairs. 

Source: Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

Wayne also tried to justify his adulterous adventures by blaming their social class and his wife’s reluctance to go out with a couple of his friends.

He shared that he was often forced to leave the house on his own. This caused marital tensions as he could not manage both worlds. Years after their divorce, Wayne would go to Sáenz’s house every morning of December 25 to pick up their children.

 Although he was bitter about how their relationship ended at first, the bitterness wore off, and he developed a respect for Sáenz’s mothering skills and, in subsequent years, spoke warmly about her.

John Wayne and Josephine were pictured last night with their wife Josephine at the Hollywood Theater to celebrate the grand premiere Cecil B. DeMille’s new epic. Source: Getty Images| Source: Getty Images

For most of his adult life, he felt guilty about the separation and told his children that he was responsible for their split. The actor believed Michael, his first child, was not forgiving him for the dissolution of the family.


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