Posted Monday, June 27, 2011, at 4:08 PM
Ah, I'm glad I was otherwise occupied when everyone decided to pile on Michele Bachmann
for saying John Wayne -- Marion Robert Morrison to his parents -- was from Waterloo, Iowa. Serial killer John Wayne Gacy moved there and committed some crimes there (though he did much of his killing in Illinois.*) Wayne wasn't. But Alex Burns points out
that Marion Morrison's parents met in Waterloo, and I consulted another Wayne bio, The Man Behind the Myth
(2005), which says the same.
Just a few years after Clyde [Morrison's] birth in 1884, his family moved to Iowa where he grew up and served an apprenticeship as a pharmacist in Waterloo. It was there that he met Molly, who worked as a telephone operator.
Look: I'm not from a small town, but I'm from a pretty anonymous place (Wilmington, Delaware), and I know that when you've got a tenuous local connection to a celebrity, you flaunt it. Bachmann's problem, if we even want to call it that, is that she's been hopelessly defined as a gaffe-machine who flubs silly things. But she didn't pull this out of thin air! Waterloo has more of a claim on John Wayne than most other towns in America, excepting Winterset, Iowa and Los Angeles.
*I was wrong -- Gacy's muder spree began in Waterloo, but was interrupted.