Legendary adult performer Jack Wrangler was born John Robert Stillman in Beverly Hills, CA on July 11, 1946. He died of complications from lung disease on April 7, 2009, years after retiring from a career in both gay and straight porn. Wrangler’s father was Hollywood producer Robert Stillman and his mother was a former Busby Berkeley dancer. The younger Stillman’s own showbiz career began at age nine in The Faith of Our Children, a religious-themed family show that won five Emmys. After college, he worked briefly onstage as a model and dancer, had bit parts in hit TV shows like The Mod Squad and Medical Center, and finally made his debut as Jack Wrangler in a gay male strip show in the mid-1970s. Soon he got into gay porn and became one of the first performers in the genre to obtain cult status, becoming one of the earliest true stars of gay porn. In the early 1980s, Wrangler also began doing straight porn, most notably The Devil in Miss Jones II, and he said his first time having sex with a woman was onscreen in the movie China Sisters. Meanwhile, Wrangler never strayed from theater, which was his passion.
Wrangler identified as a gay man, but said that he couldn’t really live the gay lifestyle because he was “too competitive.” He would always want to outdo another man, whatever they were doing, whatever they were wearing, and he found that his competitive nature wasn’t as detrimental to heterosexual relationships. After he met pop singer and actress Margaret Whiting in 1976, the two eventually became romantically involved. When Wrangler confided his homosexuality to Whiting after they met, she said, “Only around the edges, dear.” After they got involved, Wrangler retired from porn to focus on his first love, musical theater. The couple married in 1994. They remained visible in the New York City theater scene and actively supported and promoted HIV/AIDS charities. In 2008, a feature-length documentary about Wrangler was released. Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon was produced and directed by Jeremy Schwarz and premiered at 2008 NewFest: The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival.