How John Wayne proposed to his third wife. (Bonus: a pic of her apparently haunted bananas flambe!)

First I shared with you Pilar Wayne’s recipe for Salmon Mousse (Why John Wayne walked funny), taken from her book Pilar Wayne’s Favorite and Fabulous Recipes, which I found in the laundry room of my apartment complex. Now, from that same book, I share with you (verbatim, exactly as it appears in the book) Pilar’s account of how The Duke proposed to her:

In 1954 Duke was filming a movie called “The Sea Chase” with gorgeous Lana Turner in Kona, Hawaii and John Ford was filming “Mr. Roberts” with Henry Fonda and Jack Lemon in Honolulu. Although there was a distance between the two locations they always found a way to get together, either in Kona on the big island of Hawaii or in Honolulu.

One morning just at the very end of the filming, the telephone rang, it was Duke’s lawyer, Mr. Frank Belcher, to tell Duke that his divorce from his second wife had become final after a long and unpleasant court trial.

Duke ran into my room saying, “I’m free, I’m free, please marry me today.”

Mary St. John, who happened to be with me at the time said “great, but we have to find her a dress.” Duke came over to me and grabbed me and kissed me and said “Mrs. Wayne, you better look gorgeous tonight, and don’t you forget it. You girls worry about the dress I’ll take care of everything else. We’re going to get married at sunset to the music of the ‘Hawaiian Wedding Song’ and tonight we’ll fly to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for our Honeymoon.”

Mary and I dashed out of the house in search of a Wedding Dress. It was November First and I was in seventh heaven. I felt like the whole thing was a dream and I did not want to wake up. We found a lovely soft silk organza dress, and on the way home I picked some wildflowers for my hair.

The custom there was the groom cannot see the bride until the ceremony, so I waited in my room and could hear everybody having a great deal of fun. I thought sunset was going to take an eternity that night. I could hear everyone as they gathered by the ocean, and only a big wave could quiet the laughter and talk of the people there. I also wondered who they could all be.

Finally, I heard this small knock at the door, it was John Farrow, the Director of “Sea Chase,” who was going to give the bride away. John said to me, “are you ready?” I said “Oh John, I am so nervous I will probably fall right into the water, so please keep and eye on me, for I have never been happier. I love Duke so much.” He said, “Don’t worry, I’ll watch for you every second, and I know that Duke loves you very much too.” Then out we went, me holding on to his arm for deal life. I looked straight ahead through all of those people and saw Duke looking at me with a faint smile. All my fears disappeared and from then on everything went smoothly and easily. …

The ceremony was breathtaking, we exchanged our vows just as the sun was setting. There were hues of pink, red, and lavender when we were pronounced man and wife.

The Hawaiians mixed beautifully with the cast and crew from the “Sea Chase” and danced their typical dances and played various instruments till dark.

We cut the Wedding Cake (this one recipe I did not pay much attention to.) We changed our clothes and left Kona on our way to still another small reception at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu.

As I am writing this book I can not help but think how everything we do is connected with food. I love the expression “Breaking Bread Together,” it means friendship, love, and so many other things. Our whole lives revolve around food, and naturally you eat with the ones you love or like.

–From “Pilar Wayne’s Favorite and Fabulous Recipes,”  PAX Publishing Company, 1982

And now, taken from her cookbook, is this picture of Pilar’s Bananas Flambe. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s the spirit of John Wayne, captured on film one last time, arising within the green vapors and looking back at all that percolating deliciousness.)

The people who run it invite you to check out the site where they sell John Wayne collectibles.

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  • FreetoBe

    Is it me or are the colors off in these pictures? Red bananas? Some sort of straw covering the plate under the gelatinous fish? C'mon, does anybody else find this totally disgusting?

    BTW, I think gelatinous is fun to say–not so fun to eat.

  • I can't believe someone hasn't snatched the signed book and sold it on e-bay.

    Great wedding story. Gotta love the serendipity. I tend to move a little more galacially than that, though. Not sure I have the decisive powers to pull off proposing and marrying in the same day. Yikes!

  • John,

    The bananas look radioactive.

    Or is it just me?

    I do like Pilar's almost communion-like ending (from the Bible's worldview of communion – not Whitley Strieber's view though the photo and Strieber could somehow be tied together).


  • Free: Are you suggesting the food in Pilar's photos don't look positively delicious? How odd.

    Michael: I can HAVE the book; nobody's guarding our laundry room books, or anything. But … I can't see anyone paying for it, or anything. I mean … can YOU?

    Sam: Radioactive? Are you, like FreetoBe, suggesting that that there's anything positively gross about these photos/dishes? How odd again.

  • Lynn

    Is it just me or is that a spirit lurking over the flambe' ? And where's the chocolate? To me this dish looks like it could be Johnsonville Brats. Sorry, no offense intended. I guess beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.

    Thanks John, for sharing a portion of Pilar's account regarding her proposal and wedding day. How sweet.

  • I was WONDERING when someone was going to mention the … scary Phantom Vapor over the … floating … things.

    Now, Lynn, I could be wrong about this, but when, in reference to Pilar's wedding story, you say, "How sweet," am I detecting in your tone just the slightest whiff of … someone who knows a deeply UNsweet "romance" story when she comes across it?

  • Candace

    I figured maybe that was the collective soul of the dead bananas, ascending.

    Is that blasphemous?

    Forgive me; I'm new.

  • Lynn I was thinking brats as well. Piggybacking on Candace's theory, the soul of the bananas is like a siren song summoning those in the vicinity to come and smell, because darn it they sure wouldn't want to eat them based on looks.

  • Well, surely there is some John Wayne fan out there who would love to have a signed copy of his 3rd wife's cooking book, right? Right? I don't know anyone like that, but if you can sell Micky Mouse toilet paper on ebay, why not this?

  • Now WHY is everyone mocking the photographs? Keep in mind they are on probably yellowing paper in a twenty year old book, and printing color has advanced in unbelievable degrees since then! I have yet to find a SINGLE cooking book from more than ten years ago in which ANY of the pictures look palatable.


    That being said, the gelatinous fish log was a little disturbing. Oh, yes, it was.

  • Michael: hmmmm….that is a might fine point….ok, tell you what. For four dollars, it's yours. No, wait: three. Okay, a dollar-fifty.

    Okay, send me two stamps, and it's yours.

    Okay, just give me your address. Please?

  • Yeah, Skerrib. Quit making fun of Pilar's food.

  • Never.

  • John,

    I'd send you a shipping container pre-addressed and postage pre-paid for the book and a Starbucks Gift Card with $3.06 left on it.

    Would that work?

    Oh wait – I'm not sure I want you to know my address. I'd put my P.O. Box – how's that?


  • FreetoBe

    That's it!! They're Star Wars bananas – Menacing Phantom Vapors.

  • arlywn

    kinda ghostly…. I'm not sure I would eat that either. Too many different choices on those bananas. What if it killed me? I'd have to haunt John…. lol

  • Dan Harrell


    I noticed just now that I get the posts a day after you write them. Is this a clever attempt to keep my comments on day old blog posts so no one will read them?

    By the time I can post a comment, all the good thoughts are used.

    The bananas flambe look similar to what I had for breakfast today, including the cloud hovering over them. Hmmm, got to clean out the fridge soon.

  • Dan: You know, you're the third or fourth person who's said that to me lately, about getting the posts late. I have no idea why that might be happening. Do you subscribe through an RSS feeder? Feedburner?

    I have so little understanding of All Things Techy. It's so … sad.

    HILARIOUS comment about your own breakfast. I thought you were going to make a joke about that cloud hanging around the back of your pants after you ate breakfast. God, I'm glad you didn't say that. That would have been gross.

  • Lynn

    "Now, Lynn, I could be wrong about this, but when, in reference to Pilar’s wedding story, you say, “How sweet,” am I detecting in your tone just the slightest whiff of … someone who knows a deeply UNsweet “romance” story when she comes across it?"

    How perceptive of you John 🙂 Personally speaking, by God's grace and healing and time, I have come through a bittersweet "romance" story with flying colors and a healed heart. Thanks for the introspective thought. Now, I must think on how to respond to Ken H's (WHA) "reply" today 🙂 What an open and honest reply he gave. That is so cool. Thanks for posting it.

  • pffft.

  • Ha! Sam, you crack me up.

    And don’t worry: I already know your address.

  • Ron Reiter

    Do you know where in Kona John Wayne was married. What church or beach etc.

  • vietnam vet

    Pilar Wayne's book "John Wayne My Life With The Duke" says it was in the yard and garden of a house that the studio rented for John Wayne to live in during the filming of the movie "The Sea Chase".

    She has a web site as she is a painter – I'm sure if you send her an e-mail she would tell you.

    Vietnam Vet