In 1976 John Wayne starred in his final movie, The Shootist. Wayne played John B. Books, an aging and dying gunslinger at the turn of the century. Wayne was diagnosed with “a cancer” (symptomatic of prostate cancer) and informed that he was going to die…slowly and painfully. The doctor, played brilliantly by Jimmy Stuart, informed Books that he[the doctor] would not want to experience the kind of death that lie in store.
Books, having faced the death of many men in his life, was now confronted with his own mortality. He could spend the rest of his days drinking laudanum, which he was informed would ultimately not be enough to ease his pain, or he could take other measures…die with the same dignity in which he lived.
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