Since 1994, when Harris first began polling a large sample (2,311 this year) of Americans with the simple question “Who is your favorite movie star?”, only one actor has made the top ten every year and only one actor has made it posthumously: John Wayne. In 2014, The Duke did it again, placing 7th — holding the same spot he held last year.
The man dubbed by the elite as “The Last Movie Star” — George Clooney — fell off the poll completely. After a comeback year at the movies, Tom Hanks returned to the top spot he enjoyed in 2004 and 2005. Denzel Washington dropped from number 1 to number 2. Landing on the poll for the first time, Jennifer Lawrence topped all the gals at number 3.
Sean Penn and Matt Damon have never placed in the top 10.
Here are the full results.
1. Tom Hanks
2. Denzel Washington
3. Jennifer Lawrence
4. Julia Roberts
5. Sandra Bullock
6. Johnny Depp
7. John Wayne
8. Clint Eastwood
9. Brad Pitt
10. Meryl Streep
It is obvious that 35 years after his death from cancer in 1979, John Wayne still lives on in the imagination of a large swath of the American people. Wayne’s films are still popular enough to broadcast regularly on cable and enjoy home video releases in whatever new format is currently hot. Great acting, compelling stories, and universal themes about self-sacrifice, right and wrong, human liberty, and what it means to be a man still resonate.
Obviously Wayne can’t hold on to this streak forever, but no other movie star will ever come close to equaling it. If anyone does, though, it will only be Clint Eastwood.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC