John Wayne

John Wayne was the quintessential movie tough guy -- steely, principled and heroic. Born on May 26, 1907, he starred in more than 200 movies, dozens of them Westerns that helped turn him into a mythical figure in America and earned him the appropriately royal moniker "The Duke."

His discovery was just as legendary; he was a student at the University of Southern California when he found work on a movie lot. Famed director John Ford saw him on the job one day and hired him to work on one of his sets. When a stuntman was unable to perform in one of the scenes, Wayne stepped in.

For years, he performed in less-than-stellar films, but then Ford cast him in Stagecoach, and the rest is history. Some of his best-known movies include the award-winning True Grit, The Quiet Man, Seven Sinners, Rio Grande, Red River, The Alamo and The Shootist. He rode off into the sunset permanently on June 11, 1979.