Jack Wrangler is a Actor American born on 11 july 1946 at Beverly Hills (USA)
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Birth name John Robert StillmanNationality USABirth 11 july 1946
at Beverly Hills (USA
)Death 7 april 2009
(at 62 years) at New York City (USA
John Robert Stillman (July 11, 1946 – April 7, 2009) billed professionally as Jack Wrangler was an American gay and straight pornographic film actor, theatrical producer, and director and writer. Open about his homosexuality and adult film work throughout his career, Wrangler was considered an icon of the gay-liberation movement.
In 2008, a feature-length documentary film, Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon, was released documenting his careers both off and on the stage.
Wrangler's longtime companion, to whom he was married for the last 15 years of his life, was popular US singer Margaret Whiting.
Wrangler was born John Robert Stillman in Beverly Hills, California. His father was Hollywood film and television producer Robert Thurston Stillman, who produced such films as Champion, Second Chorus, and Home of the Brave and produced television series such as Boots and Saddles, Rawhide, and Bonanza. His mother, Ruth Clark Stillman, was a former dancer in Busby Berkeley musicals.
Stillman began his acting career at the age of nine in the television series The Faith of Our Children (1953–1955). The series, which starred Eleanor Powell, was a syndicated religious family show that won five local Emmy Awards.
He became aware of his homosexuality when he was 10 years old.
Stillman graduated in 1968 from the College of Speech with a degree in theater from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
Despite his good looks and acting skills, Stillman found only limited early work in Los Angeles, California, and New York City on the stage and as a model and dancer. One of his first roles was in Douglas Dean Goodman's play Special Friends, one of the first gay-themed plays by a gay playwright to be performed in San Francisco, California. He played a former prostitute from Arkansas who becomes a bad go-go dancer in California, in a role which required extensive nudity. He finally settled in New York City and found work as a bartender and go-go dancer.
In 1970, he made his first appearance in a male strip show, using the name "Jack Wrangler." (The pseudonymous last name was taken from the label on his Wrangler-brand work shirt.)
Wrangler was approached to appear in gay pornographic films by Magnum Studios, the pioneering gay adult film studio and magazine publisher, after studio heads saw a poster for Special Friends featuring him semi-nude. His first gay porn film was 1970's Eyes of a Stranger (also known as Eyes of a Gay Stranger; Magnum Studios), one of the first hard-core gay adult films to be released commercially in the United States. Wrangler performed in gay pornographic films for several reasons. First he saw them as culturally subversive and politically liberating:
"At the time we were all trying to find out who the hell we were as individuals, what we wanted specifically on our own terms, who we wanted to be, what our potentials were, what our differences were, what made us unique… And I think that's why the XXX-rated films were important, because it was like, Oh, my God, there are other people who like the same things as me, like leather, or being blown on a pool table. [Laughs] It was a start—literally stripping ourselves naked and trying to begin from there."Second, he "wasn't comfortable in his own skin" and wanted some adventure in his life.
During his adult-film career, Wrangler appeared in 47 films. Among his more notable gay films were Kansas City Trucking Co., Hot House, Sex Machine, and A Night at the Adonis.
In 1978, Wrangler made the move to heterosexual-adult film, making his debut in China Sisters which included his first sexual encounter with a woman on film. He quickly made a number of well-known and popular straight-adult films, including Jack and Jill, Roommates, and The Devil in Miss Jones 2. He was a favorite of director Chuck Vincent, the critically acclaimed, openly gay director of some of the top straight-adult films of the 1970s and 1980s. Vincent's films subvert straight porn's traditional focus on the female body by focusing on Wrangler's body and fixing the viewer's eye on the male (rather than female) sexual experience.
As Wrangler, he became an icon of the gay-liberation movement. His popularity as a gay-porn star was so great that "Jack Wrangler" was prominently mentioned in playwright Doric Wilson's 1984 play, Forever After.
Even as Wrangler was achieving fame as one of the first iconic gay-porn stars, his acting career also blossomed. He co-starred alongside playwright and actor Robert Patrick in Patrick's 1979 play T-Shirts at The Glines theater in New York City. In 1985, Wrangler wrote the book for the musical I Love You, Jimmy Valentine – which starred Whiting. In the mid-1980s, he appeared in the play Soul Survivor, a comedy about a gay man whose lover has died of AIDS.
By this time, however, Wrangler's adult-film career was tapering off. He published his autobiography, The Jack Wrangler Story, or What's a Nice Boy Like You Doing?, in 1984. But Whiting demanded that he give up his porn career and live erotic shows. In 1986 at the age of 40, he appeared in his final adult picture, a straight-porn film titled Rising Star (Caballero Home Video).
Wrangler turned his attention to Whiting's career and cabaret. He became a board member of the Johnny Mercer Foundation after its founding in 1982, and worked to promote Mercer's music. He wrote and produced a 1985 cabaret show for Whiting which featured Mercer's music, and in 1996 co-wrote and produced Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: The Jazz Concert (inspired by the Mercer music used in the film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). A year later, he helped conceive the 1997 Broadway revue Dream, which starred Whiting and contained many Mercer songs. Wrangler conceived the idea of a ballet based on Mercer's 1946 musical St. Louis Woman, which was performed by the Dance Theater of Harlem in 2003. Wrangler was also a promoter of the cabaret singer Carol Woods, writing and producing several shows for her between 1984 and 2001. Wrangler also wrote, directed, or produced a number of other plays, musicals and revues, including The Valentine Touch, The First Lady and Other Stories of Our Times, and Irina Abroad!
Wrangler authored a column on health and fitness, "Wrangler's Weights and Measures", for the short-lived, gay-lifestyle magazine Au Contraire in 1979.
In 1976, Wrangler met singer Margaret Whiting. She was 22 years his senior. They met in a nightclub, and Wrangler later recalled: "I was with my manager when I looked over at Margaret, who was surrounded by five guys in a booth. There she was with the hair, the furs and the big gestures. I thought, 'Boy, now that's New York! That's glamour!' I had to meet her." Their romance began a few weeks later.
The couple was strongly criticized for the relationship, and Wrangler was accused of "turning straight" and entering the relationship simply for money. However, Wrangler always considered himself homosexual. "I'm not bisexual and I'm not straight", Wrangler later said. "I'm gay, but I could never live a gay lifestyle, because I'm much too competitive. When I was with a guy I would always want to be better than him: what we were accomplishing, what we were wearing—anything. With a woman you compete like crazy, but coming from different points of view, and as far as I'm concerned, that was doable."
Nonetheless, the early years of their relationship were difficult, as Wrangler and Whiting struggled with Wrangler's homosexuality. When Wrangler shouted at her in a restaurant that he was gay, Whiting responded, "only around the edges, dear." The couple was married from 1994 until his death.
In 1980, Wrangler, his step-grandmother, and his manager were attacked, pistol-whipped, and tied up by six burglars at his step-grandmother's home in Bel Air, California. The robbers made off with more than $250,000 in furs and cash.
In 1998, Wrangler and Whiting filed a $3 million lawsuit against New York City when Whiting tripped on loose pavement and broke her hip. Their suit claimed $2 million in damages for her injuries and $1 million for loss of conjugal relations.
In 2008, a feature-length documentary film about Wrangler, Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon, premiered at Newfest and received the GayVN Award. It was produced and directed by Jeffrey Schwarz of Automat Pictures. and is distributed by TLA Releasing.
Wrangler died on April 7, 2009, at the age of 62 from complications from emphysema.