Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to spot a movie star or two on and around Balboa Island. You can visit our Film History page to see some of the movies connected to Balboa Island. Many celebrities owned homes and/or docked their boats here. Shirley Temple and Buddy Ebsen lived here. They even created the film Captain January together in 1936. Perhaps none were more visible than John Wayne aboard his beloved yacht, the Wild Goose. Wayne was know to frequent the Shanghai Pine Gardens Restaurant.
Wayne bought the 136-foot boat, a former minesweeper used during World War II, in 1962 and she went through a major renovation. Wayne named her the Wild Goose and she became almost as recognizable as her owner as she motored around the harbor. Whether hosting poker games and parties for his celebrity friends or taking part in the annual Christmas Boat Parade, Wayne took great pleasure in entertaining a who’s who of the time including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
The travels of the ship were well documented during Wayne’s ownership in the 1993 book On Board With the Duke: John Wayne and the Wild Goose, authored by his former captain Bert Minshall. Minshall was on the Wild Goose for 16 years with Wayne. The vessel is now managed by Hornblower Cruises in Newport Beach and is available for dinner cruises. Newport Beach honors John Wayne day on May 26th, which celebrates his birthday. Visit the John Wayne Foundation to learn more!