Jack Lewis, 84, a decorated Marine Corps officer, screenwriter, pulp novelist, movie stuntman, cofounder of Gun World magazine, and self-described "reporter, drunk, editor and hobo," died May 24 of lung cancer in Hawaii, a week after marrying his longtime companion, Stephanie Gonsalves.
Born in Iowa on Nov. 13, 1924, Mr. Lewis - whose father was an Army cavalry officer - enlisted in the Marines at 18. He saw duty as a machine-gunner during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery as a combat correspondent in Korea. He was recalled to duty during the Vietnam War and later retired as a lieutenant colonel.
"He was a maverick, very ambitious, always looking for something new, and total Marine Corps," said Ralph Austin, a retired master sergeant who served with him in Korea and Vietnam.
By his own account, Lewis was a man of many careers, some of which overlapped. After World War II, he received a degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and returned to the Marines to help with training films.
While at California's Camp Pendleton, he was assigned as a technical adviser to the 1949 movie Sands of Iwo Jima. He and John Wayne struck up a friendship, solidified by a mutual love of guns, strong drink, and all things military.
White Horse, Black Hat: A Quarter Century on Hollywood's Poverty Row, published in 2002, is Mr. Lewis' account of the famous, near-famous, and never-famous who toiled in the movie industry during the days of low-budget westerns. Among the stories are anecdotes about Smiley Burnette's selling autographs, a young and surly Steve McQueen, a famous but insecure Audie Murphy, and Slim Pickens, who needed $200 to buy a mule. Mr. Lewis asked why Pickens needed a mule. "Everybody oughta have a mule," Pickens said, with no further explanation needed.
Mr. Lewis wrote hundreds of magazine profiles of Hollywood stars and acted as a ghostwriter for some. The heroes of his novels were western gunslingers and modern detectives.
His stuntman gigs included diving off the ship in the 1955 film Mister Roberts. He said he was attracted to stunt work because it paid better than being a writer.