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Actor, Writer and Producer Jack Wrangler Dead At 62


Jack Wrangler, best known as the first gay porn superstar, 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 his 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 Berkeley musicals. He began his show business career at the age of nine when he appeared in an Emmy Award-winning television series, "The
Faith of Our Children" with Eleanor Powell.

He accepted an offer to appear in a gay pornographic film in the early 1970s.

His masculine good looks and tousled blond hair quickly brought
him a great deal of attention. He went on to make over eighty adult
films, both gay and straight, including "The Devil in Miss Jones Part
II." 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, "The Jack
Wrangler Story, or What's a Nice Boy Like You Doing?"

He met legendary RCA 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'Neill Cabaret Symposium in Waterford,
Connecticut, for several years in the early 1990s. During this period,
he and his wife taught young students about the Great American
Songbook at the Sundance Festival in association with the Johnny
Mercer Foundation. He also directed several performers' 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 Ms.
Whiting at The Ballroom in Chelsea. He directed Ms. 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. It was a musical revue based on the
short stories of Fitzgerald interspersed with the songs of Margaret's
songwriter father Richard Whiting. A sold-out reading followed at The
York Theater company in December 2007. Mr. Wrangler and producer
Jeffrey 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 of
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 "Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon" which premiered in New York, has
been shown across the 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 (

A documentary on Jack's life, "Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon" recently won the GayVN Award For Best Alternative Release.

You can read a comment from TLA Releasing regarding Wrangler's passing by clicking here.

"Making this film was a great opportunity to pay tribute to a man who lives his life with grace, humor and confidence, and was a role model for an entire generation of men," said director Jeffrey Schwarz. "Jack and the filmmakers he worked with were truly pioneers in the industry, and I hope this film can remind us that porn can be revolutionary, inspirational, and just plain fun."

The film documents the life and career of one of the biggest porn icons of the 1970s. And while Wrangler was extremely popular within the gay community, he eventually fell in love with Margaret Whiting, the famous vocalist who was 22 years his senior. Wrangler went on to cross over to straight adult films and still maintained his popularity.

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