The Man Who Shot the Shootist

22 Jan

Earlier, I was flipping through the channels and landed on The Shootist, John Wayne’s last movie. It is not my favorite, but, since it is the Duke’s final film, I have seen it several times. I guess that means I do not have this one memorized like a bunch of the other ones.The Shootist

Despite it not being a favorite, The Shootist has some good parts. James Stewart makes a cameo and having him in a movie is always a good thing. Ron Howard also appears during his transition from Opie Taylor to Richie Cunningham to famous director. Lauren Bacall shows up as Bond, a character named in honor of Ward Bond.

The movie has some good scenes and some good lines, but the ending always gets to me. Perhaps, it is because I know that it is the last time John Wayne appeared on film. The movie is about an era coming to an end and, although they did not realize it, the movie also marks the end of a career.

I have always wonder about the actors who took part in that final shootout. In the years that followed, did they think about that scene? Did they feel honored to be part of it? Did they care?

In short, John Wayne sets up one last gunfight with three people who would like to kill him.

Richard Boone was well-known as Paladin on Have Gun, Will Travel and had been in a bunch of movies, including John Wayne’s Big Jake.

Hugh O’Brian played the title character in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and had a bit part in In Harm’s Way with John Wayne.

Bill McKinney, a native Tennessean, accomplished something that could be unique. He was killed in the movies by John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. The final scene in The Shootist did not work out for him, and, earlier that same year, he played Captain Red Legs Terrill in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Each one of those actors could challenge John Wayne in a gunfight, but, in true Duke fashion, they could not do him in. Instead, he was shot in the back by the bartender.

That is the whole point of this post. Who was given the role of shooting John Wayne in the back? Who killed John Wayne in his final film? After an extensive search, I discovered that the role went to an uncredited actor named Charles G. Martin.

He had sixteen acting credits, and The Shootist was also his last movie. Unfortunately, more information was hard to come by. I found no pictures and little about his life. He was born in Arlington, Texas in 1912 and passed away in Sarasota, Florida in 1998.

If anyone knows more about Charles G. Martin, then I would be interested to read about it.

20 Responses to “The Man Who Shot the Shootist”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong January 22, 2015 at 03:41 #

    The Shootist is hard to watch, especially because there’s such an overlap between the real and unreal world of the movies. The Duke was very sick, a dying actor playing a dying man. I can’t watch it either. I’ll ask Garry about Charles G. Martin. Maybe he knows something.

    • Rick January 22, 2015 at 03:56 #

      If anyone knows, then Garry is the one. The last shootout was an act of suicide. Then, why did JB Books fight back?

      • Marilyn Armstrong January 22, 2015 at 04:14 #

        Garry says Charles Martin, along with John Mitchum (Robert’s brother) played bartenders in a lot of movies, Martin in a bunch of Ford’s movies. He doesn’t know much about him, but he was a small part player in westerns, usually as a bartender.

        My take on why Books fights back is he wanted to take out some bad guys when he went down. He was dying and he wanted company on the road. But you could interpret it in other ways, too, though I can’t think of any at the moment.

      • Rick January 22, 2015 at 04:28 #

        Tell Garry thanks. There must have been a bunch of uncredited stuff in his career.

      • Marilyn Armstrong January 22, 2015 at 05:24 #

        Garry didn’t know his name, but he remembered the face.

  2. Andrew Petcher January 22, 2015 at 07:29 #

    Good post, nice research. I wondered if this was the only film in which he was called John, but of course it wasn’t. The Undefeated, Chisum, Sons of Katie Elder, The Horse Soldiers, Sands of Iwo Jima, Fighting Kentuckian and a whole load more from his very early days. Not sure about J D Cahill though?

    • Rick January 22, 2015 at 19:29 #

      I will have to do a post about the best John Wayne character name. Ethan Edwards is at the top of my list.

      • Andrew Petcher January 22, 2015 at 19:45 #

        can’t argue with that but Cole Thornton and Chance Buckman must get nominations!

      • Rick January 23, 2015 at 01:52 #

        I forgot about Chance Buckman. J.T. Chance is a good one, too.

  3. Andrew Petcher January 23, 2015 at 13:04 #

    Just had a lazy afternoon watching a couple of Jimmy Stewart films on TV (Flight of the Phoenix & Bend of the River). I got to thinking about the top three film actor voices. It has to be completely subjective of course and based on genre, mine is the western, so I suggest John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck. Lee Marvin just outside the to three. What about you?

    • Rick January 23, 2015 at 22:53 #

      I think John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Randolph Scott. Of course, there are character actors like Slim Pickens, Chill Wills and Walter Brennan.

  4. returntothe80s February 22, 2015 at 03:01 #

    I enjoyed this movie. I did not watch many John Wayne films when I was younger. But, over the last couple of years, I watch whenever I can. I usually can catch them on Saturdays on AMC. I don’t think there’s been any that I haven’t liked. I think this one and The Cowboys were the only ones that he died in. I didn’t see it coming in The Cowboys. But in The Shootist, it was kind of reminding me of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.

    • Rick February 22, 2015 at 03:58 #

      I saw a stat once about how many movies John Wayne died in. There weren’t many.

  5. Carl D'Agostino June 13, 2017 at 00:26 #

    Who shot Liberty Valence ?

    • Rick June 15, 2017 at 16:56 #

      When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

  6. Luke February 25, 2018 at 00:26 #

    died in , The Fighting Seabees, Sands of Iwo Jima, Cowboys and the Shootist

    • Rick February 25, 2018 at 02:51 #

      Yes, he did. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance also started with his funeral.

  7. billy anderson April 30, 2020 at 07:12 #

    Duke “died” onscreen in more movies than you might realize. “The Shootist” and “The Cowboys” are so well-known because he was shot in the back in both. But there is also “The Alamo”, “Sands of Iwo Jima”, “Wake of the Red Witch”, “The Fighting Seabees”, “Reap the Wild Wind”, “West of the Divide”, and “Central Airport”.
    In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, it opens with his funeral, and the whole movie is a flashback – you never actually see him die.
    There were several others where he died, but it was offscreen. My personal favorite in that group is “The Sea Chase”. He and Lana Turner go down with the ship, but it’s done in such a way that you get the idea they might just have made it.
    There will never, ever be another John Wayne.

    • Rick May 2, 2020 at 21:04 #

      Of those movies, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is my favorite. It is a great stories with deeper layers than people realize. You are right. There will never be another John Wayne.


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