Was Filming of Cheyenne Autumn Halted Due to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Filming of Cheyenne Autumn was halted due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Cheyenne Autumn was John Ford’s last western, released in 1964.

It told the story of a tribe of 300 or so Cheyenne who travel from their Oklahoma reservation to Wyoming, and the United States Government’s response to the situation. It was Ford’s tribute of sorts to the native peoples of America.

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On the same day in November 1963 that Ford was shooting the climactic conflict between Little Wolf (Ricardo Monteblan) and Red Shirt (Sal Mineo),

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President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

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The legend goes that John Ford, a big Irish Catholic, was so distraught over the news that production of the film was halted.

That is not true, but the facts of the matter have certainly lent themselves to making the story appear so.

The filming DID halt after the Little Wolf/Red Shirt conflict. However, that was always the plan. The filming was moving to a different part of Utah to film different shots, so they were going to start moving everything in the afternoon so that everything would be ready to begin filming in the new location the next day.

So while Ford certainly MIGHT have stopped production because of Kennedy’s death, he never had the opportunity.

The legend is…

STATUS: False, with some Truthiness mixed in there.

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One Response to “Was Filming of Cheyenne Autumn Halted Due to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy?”

  1. I’AM MORE INTENT ON BELIEVING THAT PRODUCTION ON THAT FILM WAS DELAYED BECAUSE OF THE PRESIDENTS ASSIASSINATION. MR. FORD WAS PROBABLY DELAYING FILMING OUT OF REPSPECT FOR MR. KENNEDY. WHICH I WOULDN’T BLAME HIM A BIT. BECAUSE WHEN IT HAPPENED I WAS ONLY 10 OR 11. AND MY SCHOOL LET OUT TOO BECAUSE OF HIS ASSIASSINATION. SO YOU SEE HE WASN’T ONLY PERSON THAT LIKED MR. KENNEDY. AND THANK YOU FOR OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND TO THIS VERY INFORMATIVE PIECE OF ENTERTAINMENT AND POLITICAL NEWS.

    YOURS TRULY
    THOMAS W. PILGRIM

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