Wayne was more than a star, he epitomised the American 'virtues' in the second half of the 20 century and it seemed to many that his screen characters – tough, idealistic, independent but innocent – were inseparable from the man himself.
On location in LA, we hear about Duke Wayne's evolution from Marion Michael Morrison, a lanky California college footballer and assistant propman and goose herder at the Fox studios into the Oscar winning Hercules of 20 century Hollywood.
It's a classic Hollywood story of luck and accidents that catapulted Wayne from being a $35 a week bit-part player into the star favoured by great directors such as John Ford and Howard Hawks
But there is a vital theme and twist that runs through our John Wayne story.
It is that Wayne could not exist in contemporary Hollywood.
As we hear from Hollywood insiders Mike Madavoy, chief executive of Phoenix Pictures (Apocalypse Now, Platoon etc) and legendary TIME film writer Richard Schickel America and the wider world can't believe the John Wayne hero any more.
Why? Firstly the the star system had changed completely.
But also, in recent times, the US has lost its moral authority.
America can no longer play the just sheriff, law keeper to the world.
In a more cynical, less innocent world Hollywood's old style heroes, observers agree, have been run out of town.
In the programme we hear from Waynes' son Michael, his biographer Randy Roberts plus contributions from Lauren Bacall and Kirk Douglas.