In the 1950’s John Wayne was on fire. Wayne was one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood and producers wanted to use him for almost every movie.
One of the biggest movies he accomplished was the 1956 production of ‘The Conqueror’ where he played Genghis Khan. Many argue that was one of the worst casting decisions ever. But, what is interesting and almost downright horrifying is the filming location of the production.
According to IMDB Trivia, the “The Conqueror” is sometimes called an “RKO Radioactive Picture” and for good reasons. The movie was filmed on a nuclear test site, and the set was contaminated from by the nuclear fallout or debris.
There are photographs of John Wanye holding a Geiger counter- an instrument that measures the amount of radioactivity in an area. Unfortunately, over the next 20 years, many actors and crew members developed cancer.
People Magazine researched the cast and crew’s health for an article and found that forty-six had died including, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendáriz (who shot himself soon after learning he had terminal cancer), Agnes Moorehead, John Hoyt and director Dick Powell.
The count did not include several hundred local Native Americans who played extras, or relatives of the cast and crew who visited the set, including John Wayne’s son Michael Wayne.
The article quoted the reaction of a scientist from the Pentagon’s Defense Nuclear Agency to the news, “Please, God, don’t let us have killed John Wayne”.
Ultimately, “The Conquerer” will most likely go down as one of the worst movie sets to ever work on.
Have something to add to this story? Share with us in the comments below!