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.