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Michael Wayne was the eldest son of John Wayne and his first wife, Josephine Alicia Saenz, the daughter from a socially prominent Latina family living in Los Angeles. He graduated from Loyola University of California in 1956 and served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. His interest in film production began when he served as a production assistant during the filming of the John Ford 1951 classic The Quiet Man (1952), which starred his father. Michael Wayne joined his father's film production, Batjac, during the filming of The Alamo (1960) and became the line producer for McLintock! (1963). He subsequently produced many star vehicles for his father, including Brannigan (1975), The Green Berets (1968), Big Jake (1971) and The Train Robbers (1973).Following his father's death from cancer in 1979, Michael Wayne served as the head of Wayne Enterprises, which owns many of his father's films. Other business interests included movie distribution, merchandising his father's image, real estate and other investments. He also served as the chairman of the board of the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center.