John Wayne gets all the credit, but the man behind the camera was every bit as much of a cowboy. Shooting three films a year, never more than two takes per shot, he cut his own path through Hollywood at breakneck speed.

Along the way, he left his mark on some of the most iconic figures in Americana—the cowboy, the soldier, the migrant, the pioneer, and so on. Throw in a dash of Old Hollywood glamour, and you’re left with a pretty potent mix of styles.

So we thought we’d take a moment to honor the man who gave us the cowboy, Mr. John Martin Feeney Ford…

See five pictures of the iconic Mr. Ford:

Here’s the artist as a young man, complete with the 30s-era neckerchief and porthole glasses. It didn’t suit him as well as his later getups, but he pulled it off with the best of them.

Now he’s in his element, with saddle shoes and the loose fitting jacket of the day, along with what would become his signature item: the half-tinted teardrop sunglasses. Kurosawa would pick up a pair not too long after—and anyone else eager to follow in his footsteps would do well to check out what Persol’s offering these days.

The shades are still there, but now he’s on an early form of the JFK tip—hand on the tiller and collar untucked.

His true strength was always old-man style, as in this admiralty-approved getup. He earned the hat during the war, shooting footage of the Omaha Beach landing. The only thing missing was his most famous accessory, the mythic, the legendary…

…the eyepatch. He got it while recovering from cataract surgery, when he removed his bandage too early. (He was never very good at taking orders.)

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom