Sharon Osbourne backs removal of John Wayne statue and name from US airport: 'It gives me the creeps'

Amy Johnson
·2-min read
Sharon Osbourne attending X Factor filming at the Titanic Hotel, Liverpool. Picture date: Tuesday June 20, 2017. Jon Super/PA Wire via Getty Images.
Sharon Osbourne attending X Factor filming at the Titanic Hotel, Liverpool. Picture date: Tuesday June 20, 2017. Jon Super/PA Wire via Getty Images.

Sharon Osbourne has voiced her support for the take-down of John Wayne's name and statue from a US airport.

John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California was named after the Hollywood actor who lived nearby but the Democratic Party of Orange Country recently passed an emergency resolution calling for the airport to revert back to its original name of Orange County Airport.

Now, Osbourne has said he should no longer be memorialised in such a way due to his views on race.

Read more: Sharon Osbourne says she was fat-shamed by her brother

The 67-year-old told the Daily Star: “It just gives me the creeps. There has always been this reputation of him of really hating blacks, Jews, anybody that wasn’t white.

Travelers walk past a John Wayne statue at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif, Monday, June 29, 2020. In the latest move to change place names in light of U.S. racial history, leaders of Orange County's Democratic Party are pushing to drop film legend Wayne's name, statue and other likenesses from the county's airport because of his racist and bigoted comments. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Travelers walk past a John Wayne statue at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif, Monday, June 29, 2020. In the latest move to change place names in light of U.S. racial history, leaders of Orange County's Democratic Party are pushing to drop film legend Wayne's name, statue and other likenesses from the county's airport because of his racist and bigoted comments. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“When the airport came, I was like: ‘Why would you give this man this honour of having an airport named after somebody like that, who is just a bad man, a really ugly man?’ We cannot celebrate these people that we once thought were heroes.”

The Western film star, who died in 1979 at the age of 72, made multiple racist comments during an interview with Playboy in 1971. The interview saw Wayne state: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.

“I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

He also said that Native American people had "selfishly" tried to keep their land from being colonised. In addition, Wayne made homophobic remarks as he described Midnight Cowboy as “a story about two f**s”.

American actor John Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance directed and produced by John Ford. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
American actor John Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance directed and produced by John Ford. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

It comes as a debate wages on about whether place names and symbols linked to figures who profited from or believed in white supremacy should remain in place. It follows global anti-racism protests after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by police in the US.

Wayne, who was born Marion Morrison, has been defended by his son Ethan Wayne who released a statement saying his father should not be judged on a single interview.

He added that the actor "did not support 'white supremacy' in any way and believed that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence".