Killing John Wayne: The Making of The Conqueror

The Conqueror (1956) is the source of much Hollywood lore. This ill-fated production happened to be filmed downwind from an above-ground nuclear testing site. More than half of the crew contracted cancer, with a majority of them dying from the illness.

Among the many stars who took part in this production and passed away from cancer were Susan Hayward, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorehead, John Wayne, and more.

In addition to this sad reality, the epic film was considered a failure by critics, though it did perform well at the box office. It ranks as one of the worst films of the 1950s and is among the worst films ever made. Wayne also received a Golden Turkey Award for his performance in this film, with critics and audiences feeling that he was woefully miscast in the role.

Ryan Uytdewilligen’s Killing John Wayne: The Making of The Conqueror, published by Lyons press, delves in the history of the production and its many challenges, in addition to discussing the fates of its cast and crew members. Since so much has been printed in relation to The Conqueror, it is refreshing to see a book that focuses deeply upon the film.


Killing John Wayne: The Making of The Conqueror is available for purchase via Lyons Press.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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