1979 – John Wayne
Born in Winterset, Iowa, on May 26, 1907, Hollywood legend John Wayne was a category III inductee into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame on April 9, 1979. Category III inductees are those individuals who, having made a mark in sports, have gone on to contribute significantly to life in other fields. Wayne was a star football player at Glendale High School, before earning a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California. However, he lost his scholarship due to an injury and started working in the film industry to help pay his tuition. Wayne went on to have a five decade long career as an actor, director, and producer, appearing in more than 175 films. In 1969, for his role in “True Grit,” he won the Oscar for Best Actor. Wayne was also an ardent supporter of America and freedom. His impact on American life was so great that he won the Congressional Gold Medal in 1979, and Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980, the two highest civilian honors awarded by the American Government. Wayne died in 1979.