John Wayne as Genghis Khan

By Razib Khan | October 1, 2011 11:38 pm

From the 1956 movie The Conqueror:

  • Matt


  • MilesC

    I remember this movie as most of those involved with this movie died from the Big C, because the movie was shot near the test site for nuclear bombs were tested

  • Paul

    Harry Turtledove had an amusing short SF story (“The Barbecue, The Movie, & Other Unfortunately Not So Relevant Material”) in which a recording of this movie played a part.

  • pconroy

    Two things come to mind:
    1. He should have stuck to cowboy movies
    2. He’s an Irishman with partial epicantical folds, just like myself, my sister and Irish people here and there.

    My parents and I have ancestry identified as Selkup and Koryak, or Central Siberia and Kamchatka Peninsula respectively.

  • Paul

    MilesC: I also recall reading about the movie in one of John McPhee’s geology books. Something about zeolite deposits being visible in some scenes. Since certain zeolites are highly carcinogenic, I wondered if dust from those rocks, rather than nuclear fallout, was the cause of the putative cancer cluster.

  • Torbjorn Larsson, OM

    Urban myths seems to be a lethal epidemic on the mind:

    “most of those involved with this movie died from the Big C,”

    Citation, please.

    “because the movie was shot near the test site for nuclear bombs were tested”

    More likely because 1956ish there were increasingly more efficient cancer detection, while the treatment techniques lagged. So again, citation accounting for all possible background effects such as the coincidence likelihood that one movie from that period would have many involved later developing cancer.

  • MilesC

    Here is one of the stories about John Wayne, cancer, and this movie

    I do not believe it is an urban legend

  • Mustapha Mond

    Susan Hayward looks as though she is suffering from a severe case of food poisoning!

  • Miguel Madeira

    According to wikipedia (who values what values…), in a crew of 220 people, 91 developed cancer.

  • Sandgroper

    Awesome casting.

    I really wonder why they bothered remaking True Grit when the original was so good. He saved his best for the end of his life.

    I should have known he was Irish :)

  • omar

    Miguel, if 91 people out of 220 developed cancer, then they are batting exactly as expected: current lifetime risk of developing cancer is around 45% (maybe higher by now, the data below is from a few years ago)..since other diseases are declining, more and more people are getting a chance to develop cancer.
    If they got those cancers earlier than expected, there may be a story there. Also if they got more of particular cancers that are known to be increase with environmental radiation exposure (like thyroid cancer and leukemia).
    Is that the claim?

  • Sandgroper
  • http://www.isteve.blogspot Steve Sailer

    Was Yul Brynner considered for the role?

  • Sandgroper

    I wondered that. He would have been the logical choice.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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