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Duke Morrison's football movies

Duke Morrison’s football movies

May 17, 1929: A group of current and former football players pose for a Los Angeles Times photographer before heading to Maryland to appear in the movie “Salute.” From left are Clark Galloway, Russell Saunders, Jack Butler, Tony Steponovitch, Joe Fleming, Hayden Pythian, Jess Shaw, Frank Anthony, Al Schaub, Winfield Smith (Fox representative) and Duke Morrison.  Most of the players were affiliated with USC.

In the next day’s Los Angeles Times, this photo accompanied a story headlined: “U.S.C. Football Stars’ Status Periled by Film Stunt.”

From the Times article:

Surrounded by what they hoped would be deep secrecy, fourteen local college players, some of them scheduled to star on next year’s University of Southern California team, were aboard a Union Pacific train last night speeding toward the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where they will participate in the filming of a motion-picture of football life for a local studio.

The squad left from Central Station at 11 o’clock yesterday morning accompanied by representatives of the Fox Film Corporation….

…Some of he youths feared their motion-picture work might be regarded as professionalism, and their eligibility for next year’s team challenged.

Duke Morrison and the other players filmed a fictional Army-Navy football game for the movie, then quickly returned to California.  All eligible players kept their amateur status and played that fall for USC.

Morrison, whose real name was Marion Morrison, played on the 1925 undefeated USC freshman team. He was also on the 1926 varsity team but a shoulder injury — sustained while bodysurfing off Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula  — and a Fox Studios job offer ended his football career.

At Fox, Morrison, a prop man, found work as a football-playing extra in the movies  “Brown of Harvard (1926), “The Dropkick” (1927), Columbia’s “Maker of Men” (1931) and the previously mentioned Fox “Salute” (1929).

Along the way, Morrison changed his professional name to Duke Morrison — Duke being the name of a childhood dog.

In 1930, Fox Studios officials changed Morrison’s professional name to John Wayne.

Photo: 1925 photo of Marion Morrison when on the USC freshman football team. (Los Angeles Times files)

TECH NOTES:

The original print has emulsion damage that can not be repaired. The print was scanned as is.

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