In 1923, the first airstrip was constructed by Eddie Martin, on the grounds owned by The Irvine Company. By 1929 the Martin Airport made its way onto street maps and in 1939 the land was purchased through a land swap by the County of Orange and the airport became publicly owned.
In 1979, the Orange County Airport was renamed John Wayne Airport in honor of American actor, director and producer, John Wayne. John Wayne lived in Newport Beach and died that same year.
Born Marion Robert Morrison, on May 26, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, Morrison moved to the Los Angeles area at four years of age. Following a bodysurfing accident in which he broke his collarbone, Morrison lost his football scholarship to USC and ended up dropping out of school due to lack of finances. Instead of graduating in pre-law, Morrison found work at local film studios eventually gaining the stage name, John Wayne.
Throughout his career, John Wayne stared in 142 films, primarily westerns, including The Big Trail, Stagecoach, True Grit, and The Shootist. Wayne was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, and won for Best Actor in 1969 for his role in True Grit. The same role also won him a Golden Globe Award. In 1953, John Wayne was awarded the Henrietta Award for World Film Favorite: Male. In 1966, he was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille for his role as one of the industry’s most successful filmmakers.
Along with all of the awards, John Wayne became an American icon and symbol of American values and ideals. The man who seemed larger than life has a number of landmarks named after him, including the John Wayne Airport.
John Wayne moved to Orange County in the 1960s and died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72.