John Wayne died from cancer because of where the movie, The Conqueror, was filmed

The Conqueror is a 1956 CinemaScope epic film produced by Howard Hughes and starring John Wayne as the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. Other performers included Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and Pedro Armendáriz. Directed by actor/director Dick Powell, the film was principally shot near St. George, Utah.

The exterior scenes were shot on location near St. George, Utah, 137 miles downwind of the United States government's Nevada National Security Site.

In 1953, extensive above-ground nuclear weapons testing (11 total) occurred at the test site as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole. 

The cast and crew spent many difficult weeks on location, and in addition Hughes later shipped 60 tons of dirt back to Hollywood in order to match the Utah terrain and lend verisimilitude to studio re-shoots.

The filmmakers knew about the nuclear tests but the federal government reassured residents that the tests caused no hazard to public health.

Director Dick Powell died of cancer in January 1963, seven years after the film's release. 

Pedro Armendáriz was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1960, and committed suicide in June 1963 after he learned his condition had become terminal. 

Hayward, Wayne, and Moorehead all died of cancer in the 1970s. 

Cast member actor John Hoyt died of lung cancer in 1991. Skeptics point to other factors such as the wide use of tobacco — Wayne and Moorehead in particular were heavy smokers, and Wayne himself believed his lung cancer to have been a result of his six-packs-a-day cigarette habit.

The cast and crew totaled 220 people. By the end of 1980, as ascertained by People magazine, 91 of them had developed some form of cancer and 46 had died of the disease. 

Several of Wayne and Hayward's relatives also had cancer scares after visiting the set. 

Michael Wayne developed skin cancer, his brother Patrick had a benign tumor removed from his breast and Hayward's son Tim Barker had a benign tumor removed from his mouth.

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