The cabaret world just lost one of its more interesting characters, with Jack Wrangler’s death due to complications from lung disease at age 62. (NYTimes obit.)
Wrangler was noted as a cabaret and stage director / producer whose credits included the Broadway revue of Johnny Mercer songs, Dream. He was a mainstay of the O’Neill cabaret program when it was first developed. And for the last 32 years he was married to Margaret Whiting.
However, cabaret was the last chapter of a picaresque life. Born John Robert Sillman, Wrangler was an Emmy-winning child television star, most notable for his work on the series The Faith of Our Children, a family religious show starring Eleanor Powell.
Wrangler’s greatest fame / notoriety came in the seventies in his work in the adult entertainment industry. The importance of what he did in terms of defining what gay masculinity could be cannot be overstated. Wrangler was the first major gay icons to be defined by a sense of hyper-masculinity rather than boyish effiminateness. He was to plaid flannel and jeans what Madonna was to the cone-shaped bra.
A recent documentary, Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon explored his career and life.