Jack Lewis was born on November 13, 1924 in Iowa. Jack sold his first short story The Cherokee Kid's Last Stand at the age of 14 for $5.00 that Lewis thought was better money than a field hands wage that was then a dollar a day. Buoyed by his success Lewis submitted an unsolicited Andy Hardy screenplay that was rejected by MGM. He did not sell any more stories until he was 22.
Lewis recalled being lost as a child in a Department Store and being found by two Marines in dress blues. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 18 years of age in World War II and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1945.
After the war, Lewis attended the University of Iowa where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. After obtaining the degree, Lewis reentered the Marine Corps through the Marine Corps Reserve. He worked on a Marine training film then was assigned as a technical advisor to the film Sands of Iwo Jima where Lewis said he advised the cast how to lace up their leggings.
Lewis began his screenwriting career in 1950 with several Westerns, including the Lash LaRue feature “King of the Bullwhip” for Ron Ormond.
With the start of the Korean War, Lewis returned to active duty for six years in the Corps.
During the war Lewis submitted over two dozen magazine articles to Marine Corps Headquarters about the exploits of the Marines in Korea. Headquarters sent them back saying that they sounded too much like Marine propaganda; Lewis sent them to his civilian literary agent who had them published with a payment for Lewis of $200 each. Lewis sent copies of the published articles to the Headquarters person who had rejected them.
After Korea, Captain Lewis served as a Company Commander in the 4th Marines at Camp Pendleton, then was transferred to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay as a Public Information Officer. During his Hawaiian tour, Lewis was assigned as one of the technical advisors to John Ford's “Mister Roberts” (1955). When no one could find a stunt performer to drive a motorcycle off a pier, Lewis did the job himself. Lewis appeared in Ford's film Sergeant Rutledge.
In addition to non-fiction, Lewis wrote "Charlie Cougar" mysteries and Westerns as well as White Horse, Black Hat - A Quarter Century on Hollywood's Poverty Row, his memoirs of Hollywood. Lewis’ only Euro-western screenplay was as co-writer for “Black Eagle of Santa Fe” (1964).
Jack Lewis died on May 24, 2009 after a short bout with cancer in Kalapana, Hawaii.
Today we remember Jack Lewis on what would have been his 90th birthday.