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July 04, 2020

Meet Pilar Pallete, John Wayne’s Third Wife Whom He Never Included in His Will

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John Wayne's third and last wife was Pillar Pallete, whom he stayed married for more than two decades. However, when he died, the actor didn't include her in his will.

The famous John Wayne was married to Pilar Pallete for 27 years until he died in 1979. The pair, who allegedly separated in 1973, also shared three children: Marisa, John Ethan, and Aissa.

According to The New York Times, the iconic actor had amassed riches worth $6.85 million when he passed away. Sadly, none of his estates was left to his third wife.

John Wayne reading a "Prince Valiant" comic with his four children Patrick, Melinda, Toni, and Michael in Hollywood, California in 1942 | Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images



Pallete met Wayne in 1952 while she worked on a movie set on the edge of a Peruvian jungle. She was a young Peruvian actress with one film credit under her belt.

Her eight-month marriage to an American airline executive had failed. Wayne was in the country looking for movie locations and seeking healing after a bitter divorce from his second wife.

A studio headshot portrait of John Wayne dressed in Western garb, with his head turned to the side in circa 1955 | Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Pallete was wearing a low-cut Gypsy costume and walking barefoot when she met the actor. She'd just finished a dance scene and was out of breath when her director introduced her to Wayne, and the rest was history.


On June 11, 1979, Wayne died at the age of 72 after battling cancer. He left an estate worth $6.85 million, but none of it was meant to go to his Pallete, who separated from him in 1973.

John Wayne with his second wife Esperanza Bauer while attending a party for American comedian Red Skelton's television debut, Hollywood, California circa 1951 | Photo: M. Garrett/Murray Garrett/Getty Images



Weeks after the actor's death, his lawyer, John S. Warren, made a 27‐page document filing in Orange County Superior Court. It said the late actor's estate included $1 million in real property.

Wayne also had $100,000 in income from his holdings and $5.75 million in personal property. The legendary star left his longtime secretary, Mary St. John, $10,000, and Pat Stacy, his secretary at his death, got $30,000.

John Wayne with his wife Pilar onboard their yacht "The Wild Goose" at Monte Carlo, following a transatlantic crossing, on August  26, 1963 | Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Warren revealed Pallete wasn't included in Wayne's will but was provided for in their separation agreement. The star left each of his seven children $5,000, which was calculated in a specific way.

It was multiplied by the difference between age 21 and the child's age at his death. The actor's sculptures, paintings, and American Indian artifacts were given to organizations that provided his estate with tax deductions.

John Wayne wearing a tan leather waistcoat, a pink shirt, and a white neckerchief, in a studio portrait, circa 1970 | Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images


The rest of his estate was placed into trusts, one of them provided to Wayne's first wife, Josephine Alicia Saenz, who got $3,000 monthly checks. His second wife, Esperanza Baur, passed on in the mid-1950s.

Upon her death, Saenz's funds would be divided between the four children she had with Wayne. Several books have been written about the late actor's life, including one written by Pallete.

John Wayne and his bride Josephine Saenz soon after their marriage at Loretta Young's home in Los Angeles on June 28, 1933 | Photo: Getty Images



Wayne was eulogized as a national hero; however, Pallete opened up to little-known secrets about their relationship. In her own book, "John Wayne: My Life With the Duke," she told her tale.

The actress's book focused on the good and bad times she had with the Academy Award-winning actor. One of the confessions Pallete made was that she had an abortion months before their marriage.


The pair, who never divorced or separated legally, saw Pallete moving out of their waterfront home in Newport Beach's Bayshores area six years before Wayne's death. She insisted that they stayed married until his death.

The actress had received many offers over the years to write a book about their marriage but always declined. However, she ended up writing it "to protect his image and to do it for my kids, so they know the real story."



In February 2019, The Washington Post noted how snippets of an old Playboy magazine interview with Wayne began going viral on the internet where the star spoke against socialism and revealed he was homophobic.

[John] Wayne once hooked up with her [Marlene Dietrich] in Rome at the Excelsior Hotel and dated for three years.

In the 1971 interview, he described "Midnight Cowboy" and "Easy Rider" as "perverted films." He also used a homophobic slur to describe the character in the former movie before speaking about the virtues of straight sex.



Wayne even spoke candidly about his belief in white supremacy and spoke badly about African Americans. He even blatantly confessed that he didn't feel guilty about the US's slave history.


While married to Pallette, the actor allegedly continued having a relationship with actress Maureen O'Hara. The pair had initially met in 1941, with one of his friends stating:

"They would meet in Arizona, at the ranch he owned with a friend. It went on for years, before and during his marriage to Pilar."



According to biographer Scott Eyman's book "John Wayne: The Life And Legend," the iconic actor struggled with several issues. He cheated on all his wives, and his most noteworthy sexual affair was with Marlene Dietrich.

Wayne cheated on Saenz while married to her, and when he tried to be faithful, he met Dietrich, a German actress, and singer. He once hooked up with her in Rome at the Excelsior Hotel and dated for three years.