“Chili” Bill Brooks was John Wayne‘s pilot for about 10 years, when he flew the actor down to his two ranches in Arizona. Brooks befriended Wayne, famed for his roles in “True Grit,” “The Searchers” and hundreds of other Westerns, until his death in 1979.
The Wayne memorabilia that Brooks collected over the years now is being exhibited at the Territorial Museum of the Wild West Junction complex on Route 66 in Williams, Ariz., reports the Williams-Grand Canyon News.
…[It] includes memorabilia from “The Shootist” and many other films. Items on display include saddles, guns, clothing and more. Many of the items, according to officials at Wild West Junction, were Wayne’s personal belongings, while others were items the iconic actor used in his films. Wayne died from cancer in 1979, but left a long legacy of films to his name, including such classics as “True Grit,” “The Searchers,” “Rio Bravo” and many more. A mannequin is also being prepared, one with Wayne’s likeness, that will wear authentic clothing owned by Wayne. The mannequin, according to Wild West Junction owner Mike DuCharme, is being made the same designer who makes the wax mannequins for Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in San Francisco.
The article includes Brooks’ memories about how Wayne was always friendly to his fans.
Brooks also has a book for sale at the museum, “The 26 Bar Ranch Scrapbook,” which is a collection of rare Wayne photographs from one of his Arizona ranches. Brooks acquired the photos when he bought the ranch foreman’s house years ago.
A spokeswoman at the complex told me by phone that the Wayne exhibit is a permanent part of its collection.