Nevada nuclear test site near the filming location of infamous John Wayne movie linked to CANCER DEATHS

A movie starring John Wayne, which was filmed in an area of Utah affected by nuclear fallout, has seen a high number of cancer deaths among its cast and crew.

The 1956 film “The Conqueror” featured Wayne as the Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan. It was filmed in the desert outside St. George, Utah. However, the movie became infamous decades later due to the suspicious number of cancer deaths that followed its production.

St. George is located 137 miles downwind from the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The federal government conducted more than 900 nuclear tests at the NTS. For years, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) – which was abolished in 1975 after a 19-year existence – insisted to locals that there was no danger.

The federal government blamed the negligence of ranchers at St. George when the latter’s sheep began mysteriously dying. But after the movie was filmed, observers noted the high rate of cancer among people involved with it. Of the 220 crew members, 91 developed cancer and 46 died.

Even Wayne himself and his co-stars Susan Hayward and Agnes Moorehead, alongside director Dick Powell, eventually died of cancer. Local Native Americans from the Paiute people were used as extras for crowd and battle scenes, but no records were kept of cancer rates among them.

“Hayward and Powell both died in their 50s, a notably young age to develop cancer,” according to The Hill‘s Zack Budryk. He added that the residents of St. George who developed cancer during the time “The Conqueror” was filmed included young children.

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Pedro Armendariz Sr., another actor in “The Conqueror,” later appeared in the 1963 James Bond film “From Russia With Love.” He was reportedly in pain while filming his scenes as Ali Kerim Bey, a close ally of Sean Connery’s character. Armendariz took his own life the same year as the film’s release when his cancer became terminal.

New documentary expounds on this link

A new documentary titled “The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout” aims to expound on the link between the 1956 film and the cancer cases following its production almost 70 years later. Its makers hope to tell the story of not just the film’s staff, but those of the residents of St. George – one of the many “downwinder” communities impacted by radioactive fallout from the NTS. (Related: Report: 300M Americans could die from radiation should adversaries attack United States’ missile silos.)

The documentary’s director, Will Nunez, said he had the idea for the documentary in 2020. At the time, he was only aware of the movie’s infamy and the alleged cancer connection.

According to the documentary, the producer of “The Conqueror” and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes may have exacerbated radiation exposure when he had 60 tons of the irradiated desert sands delivered to the RKO Pictures soundstage in Hollywood to film interior scenes.

Hughes later admitted he felt “guilty as hell” about its production. As he became increasingly reclusive, he bought every print of it and watched it on a loop in his hotel suite. It was only in 1979 that the film returned to circulation after Universal Pictures purchased “The Conqueror” from Hughes’ estate.

According to Budryk, “epidemiologists have warned of the difficulty of definitively identifying a single cause for one cancer.” Wayne himself was skeptical of a connection between the filming and the disease striking the cast and crew. The actor of “True Grit” fame noted that he, Powell and Armendariz were heavy smokers later in life.

Questions surrounding Wayne’s death in 1979, which first surfaced in People magazine, led Utahns to begin investigating a potential connection to their medical histories. Among them is Mary Dickson, a thyroid cancer survivor turned downwinder activist who appears in Nunez’s documentary.

According to her, the effects of the nuclear testing fallout were not considered an emergency until the Department of Defense began to worry that they may have “killed John Wayne” – as an internal document put it.

The declassification of internal AEC documents followed, and strenuous lobbying by downwinders like Dickson and others paid off. The late former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sided with the downwinders, leading to the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990 that recently expired.

Watch Brannon Howse explaining how the 1962 film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which starred John Wayne and James Stewart, predicted the cause of lawlessness and disorder in America.

This video is from the Worldview Report channel on

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