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There will be funeral service today in Hawaii for screenwriter & novelist Jack Lewis who died on May 24, 2009.  In one of those odd coincidences that sometimes happens, May 24 happens to be when I began writing the post called Screenwriting Quote of the Day# 84 (Lt. Colonel Jack Lewis) that posted on May 25 for Memorial Day.

His daughter Kehau Kula released this statement: “Lt Col. Jack Lewis died Saturday May 24, 2009. He died due to a fight with lung cancer. He lived a long and celebrated life. A war hero, stunt man, book writer, editor, business owner, and father to three sons and two daughters as well as a grandfather to three grandsons and five grand daughters. He was loved and respected. We will all miss him.”

According to the L.A. Times obituary on Jack he was a machine-gunner in World War II and a combat correspondent in Korea as well as a technical advisor on the film Sands of Iwo Jima where he began a friendship with John Wayne, and was a stuntman for the 1955 film Mr. Roberts. All that on top of all the books, articles, and screenplays he wrote over the years including his stories from his Hollywood years, White Horse, Black Hat —A Quarter Century on Hollywood’s Poverty Row.

I knew Jack was born in Iowa and graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Iowa, but I just learned yesterday that he spent much of his childhood in North English, Iowa. Again showing that wild adventures can begin in small places.

Scott W. Smith

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“I’ve been told that I’m not smart enough to realize I can’t tilt windmills and win, but tenacity has a life and a way all its own, I’ve found. If one approach to a problem doesn’t work, figure out how to go around it”
Jack Lewis

Since today is Memorial Day I wanted to find a quote from a screenwriter with a military background and landed on Lt. Colonel Jack Lewis, USMCR (Ret) in part because he just happens to be a honored veteran and was born right here in Iowa.

Before he joined the Marines and served in World War II Lewis was a writer, selling his first short story when he was 14 years-old for five dollars. He has gone on to write an estimated 6,000 magazine articles and work on more than ten films as a screenwriter.

He was born in 1924 and joined the Marines at age 18. According to Wikipedia after the War he earned a degree in Jouralism  from the University of Iowa and later returned to active duty during the Korean War where he earned a Bronze Star as Combat Correspondent and Photographer.

In addition to writing screenplays (A Yank in Viet Nam), he wrote the novel Tell it to the Marines, and his memoirs on Hollywood, White Horse, Black Hat —A Quarter Century on Hollywood’s Poverty Row. In total, he’s had more than 30 books published including Mojave. Lewis is still writing (under the name C. Jack Lewis) and living in a beach house in Hawaii. Just this month (May 09) at age 84 he had an article in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines.)

“Two of my characters in my mystery series are probably somewhat autobiographical.  Charlie Cougar is a Mescalero Apache who has been a stuntman, a drunk and a rodeo rider.  I’m a quarter Mescalero and I’ve been all of those things.  Sam Light is a newspaper man who has been a Marine, a reporter, a drunk, an editor and a hobo.  I’ve been all of those things, too.  But at least, I’m writing about things of which I have a basic knowledge!”
Jack Lewis

Update: From the odd connection section I found out that when Lewis and his parents moved from Florida from Iowa when he was two, he lived in Winter Park. Winter Park, Florida is where I lived for 13 years before moving to Iowa. (Still checking to find out where he spent time in Iowa beside college in Iowa City.)

Update June 10: Found out today that Jack died on May 24 of this year. Just one day before I posted this article. I also found out from someone who worked with Jack for many years that Jack spent much of his youth in North English, Iowa which is a small town southeast of Iowa City. Here’s Jack’s obituary from the L.A. Times.

Scott W. Smith

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