Ms Bachmann, 55, told reporters gathered in Waterloo, Iowa, that John Wayne hailed from the city of her birth and that she had the same "kind of spirit".
Unfortunately for the presidential hopeful, the late Hollywood star was actually born in Winterset, some 150 miles from Waterloo.
The man she appears to have him confused with is John Wayne Gacy, responsible for the rape, torture and deaths of 33 teenage boys in the 1970s.
Gacy, dubbed the Killer Clown because of the costume he often wore for fundraisers and parties, did live in Waterloo. He was executed in 1994.
Ms Bachmann formally entered the race on Monday, choosing her home town in Iowa to launch the campaign."I seek the presidency not for vanity, but because America is at a crucial moment," she told supporters.