Close, But No Cigar Singer Karen Carpenter almost starred in a classic Western.

Carpenter and John Wayne True West
Karen Carpenter and John Wayne

The story goes that John Wayne was a judge on a talent show for college students in the late ‘60s, and he was very impressed with the girl drummer/singer of the Dick Carpenter Trio.  So impressed, in fact, that the next year, the Duke pushed to have her cast as Mattie Ross in “True Grit.”

Producers and director Henry Hathaway nixed the idea; she had no acting experience and they couldn’t afford to take a chance on a novice.  So Karen Carpenter stuck with the music career—which hit high gear in 1970, the year after the movie was released.

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Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine, a former managing editor for Western Shooting Horse Magazine and the chief purveyor of ScarletMask Enterprises.