In 1956 Howard Hughes produced a film about Genghis Kahn starring John Wayne called The Conqueror. The film was shot primarily near St. George, Utah 137 miles downwind of the U.S. Government's nuclear test site. There are images of John Wayne with a Geiger counter on the site, however at the time the connection between radiation fallout and cancer was not fully understood. By 1981, 91 of the 220 people who made the film were afflicted with cancer, an astonishing 41% of the crew.
The factruth is that no one is certain if the high rates of cancer were a direct cause of the nuclear tests however Dr. Robert Pendleton, professor of biology at the University of Utah, made the observation,
"With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you'd expect only 30 some cancers to develop...I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law."
Many point to out the fact that smoking was prevalent at the time of the filming as a likely cause, however there are additional reports of visiting family and friends afflicted with cancer as well, including the majority of the 300 Indians of the Shivit Reservation who had served as extras on the film together.-Professor Walter