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John Wayne statue installed at Great Western Savings

In 1977, actor John Wayne filmed the first of several television commercials for Great Western Savings. After Wayne’s death in 1979, sculptor Harry Jackson created a life-size statue for the banks’ Beverly Hills office. The statue was installed in July, 1984.

In a July 23, 1984, Los Angeles Times story, staff writer Stephen Braun reported:

… After a signal from actor James Stewart, who starred in several films with Wayne, a crane pulled upwards, lifting a red, white and blue cloth that had draped the statue. The six-ton, 21-foot-high statue called “The Horseman” was created by Harry Jackson, a Wyoming sculptor who was a favorite of Wayne.

Jackson has criticized the Beverly Hills Architectural  Commission for shortening the sculpture’s marble base, but on Sunday, he was a happy man, swearing and roaring at cowboy cronies and anyone who came within shouting distance.

“How the hell are you?” he greeted anyone who approached him.

For a few hours, the Great Western Savings Plaza at Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards summoned up images of the Old West–or at least Hollywood’s version–as tall, leathery men in buckskin and denim stood in groups and squinted into what little sun there was, just like the man they had learned to imitate. …

In 1994, the Beverly Hills branch location was sold to Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt. Three years later  Great Western Savings was acquired by Washington Mutual.

In a Jan. 4, 2008, story, headlined “The Duke may high-tail it to O.C.,” The Times’ Bob Pool reported on plans to move the statue to Newport Beach. Those plans are currently on hold.