NEWS - Jack Wrangler, first gay adult film icon dies at 62
Jack Wrangler, best known as the first gay porn super star passed away at the age of 62 on Tuesday, April 7. He died of respiratory failure after a long illness. He had been receiving care and treatment for the past several months at a nursing facility. He is survived by his wife, legendary singer/recording artist Margaret Whiting in New York and a sister Pamela in California. His real name was John Robert Stillman.
Wrangler grew up in Beverly Hills, California the son of respected film and television producer Robert Stillman ("Home Of The Brave," "Champion," "Boots and Saddles" and the CBS television series "Bonanza.") and his mother who was a line dancer in several Busby Berkely musicals. He began his show business career at the age of nine when he appeared in an Emmy award winning television series, "Faith Of Our Children" with Eleanor Powell.
He accepted an offer to appear in a gay pornographic film in the early 1970's. His masculine good looks and tousled blond hair quickly brought him a great deal of attention. He rapidly gained fame and went on to make over eighty adult films both gay and straight including, "The Devil In Miss Jones." He made numerous personal appearances promoting his films, images, jeans and line of merchandise and is largely credited as influencing the look of a generation of gay men. He also traveled for years with his one man erotic show where he usually poked considerable fun at his image. In 1984, he wrote his autobiography, "What's A Nice Boy Like You?"
He met legendary CAPITOL recording artist Margaret Whiting ("Moonlight In Vermont," "That Old Black Magic" "It Might As Well Be Spring") in 1976 at Ted Hook's Onstage night club where he invited her to his one man show the next night. After the show, he joined her with mutual friends at a table and they became inseparable. He was 33 and she was 55. Soon, their relationship was common knowledge and they moved in together after he proposed marriage. They married in 1994.
Wrangler became an active part of the Manhattan cabaret scene and was a master teacher at the Eugene O'Neil Cabaret Symposium in Waterford, Connecticut for several years in the early nineties. During thisperiod, he taught young students about the Great American Songbook at Sundance Festival in association with the Johnny Mercer Foundation with his wife. He also directed several performer's acts including Margaret Whiting and Anne Francine in a duo-act as well as a revue starring Karen Akers, Ann Hampton Callaway, Julie Wilson and Whiting at The Ballroom in Chelsea. He directed Whiting in her last major cabaret engagement at Rainbow & Stars.
In 2007, he was commissioned by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Foundation in London and conceived and wrote the book to "Ain't We Got Fun" which had a brief, successful run there in 2007. It was a musical revue based on the short stories of Fitzgerald interspersed with the songs of Margaret's songwriter father Richard Whiting. It was well received and there was a sold out reading at The York Theater company in December 2007. Mr. Wrangler and producer Jefrey Schwarz were planning to bring it to Broadway with a major cast. He was also co-creator of "Dream" which appeared on Broadway in 1997 with Leslie Ann Warren, John Pizzarelli and Ms. Whiting. He also co-created and co-directed the jazz concert, "Midnight In the Garden if Good and Evil," a tribute to Johnny Mercer. Before he became ill, he was in talks to revive both projects.
Several months ago, Mr. Schwarz produced a documentary about his life called, "Jack wrangler: An American Icon" which premiered in New York and has been shown across country and is available on DVD.
Publicist and friend Donald Schaffer, who was his best man at his wedding to Ms. Whiting, said, "Jack was very brave and had recently been working on a new book. He was an intelligent, very talented man with a great sense of humor as in his popular comic monologues like his spoof on "living with a diva" and a raucously funny spin on "My Funny Valentine." He and Margaret had a wonderful and loving life together with a constant stream of famous and infamous friends dropping by for lively visits filled with great conversations, music and good times."
In an interview with People Magazine in May 1987, Margaret Whiting said of her relationship with Wrangler: "Honestly, there's so much unhappiness in the world, if you can find someone who makes you happy, and you can make him happy, then c'mon, who cares? We're not hurting anybody. We're not doing anything wrong. We're enjoying each other, that's all."
A celebration of Jack Wrangler's life will be announced at a later date.
Written by John Hoglund
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