Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Different Kind of Love Song

One of Manhattan's loveliest, unlikeliest love stories has come, alas all too soon, to an end. Jack Wrangler, pioneering erotic professional, and Margaret Whiting, songbird of the '40s, first met in 1976, and for more than thirty years they were a fixture on the New York scene, happy as clams and great fun to be around.

Sadly, Jack died this morning at only 62, leaving Margaret to soldier on alone. She has the great comfort of knowing that, on the fourth try, at least, she got that whole marriage thing right, and as a woman who could sing "That Old Black Magic" like nobody else, that must be satisfaction indeed.

I will confess to knowing, slightly and only glancingly, both of them. Jack I first encountered far too long ago in a low bar somewhere, when I was myself but a tot. All I could think was that he was hot for an old guy (he must have been all of 35, perhaps), but very, very short (which really was the case).

A decade or more later, after I was ensconced in Gotham, we would occasionally cross paths here and there, often at one of the clubs where Margaret's friends, people like Julie Wilson or Anne Francine, were in residence. They were always splendidly turned out (as time passed, Jack dressed more and more like the Duke of Windsor), enthusiastic members of any audience, and generally seemed to be having great fun.

And all it goes to show is that, when it comes to l'amour, you never know when or in what unexpected form lightning is going to strike. All the more reason to keep an eye out and hope for the best.


  1. Lovely tribute, Muscato. An unlikely couple to be sure, but they sure lasted.

    I saw Margaret Whiting perform as a special guest at Mary Cleere Haran's Lyrics & Lyricists tribute to Harry Warren at the 92nd Street Y in early 2004. She was just shy of 80 and did a lovely job. I wished I had seen her do on of the "4 Girls 4" shows with Rosemary Clooney, Helen O'Connell & Rose Marie back in the early 80's.

    I met Mr. Wrangler briefly outside City Center just a few years ago. He was charming, still quite handsome, and wearing a gorgeous and impeccably tailored blazer.

  2. I only saw Jack Wrangler as a performer, but was always most struck by him. Al Parker, Casey Donovan, that whole generation of giants.... I feel all teary eyed suddenly.

  3. Oh, mrpeenee, Al Parker sealed my future for good. He was the Big Josh doll of my boyhood dreams come to life.

    My first forays out into the Life at 17 found me in plaid flannel (sleeves fashionably torn off), denim cut-offs and workboots. Alas, parochial school rules prevented me from having longish locks and facial hair.

    Sadly (or in hindsight, luckily), being 6 feet tall and weighing (at the time) 125 lbs soaking wet prevented my Al Parker look from producing the intended results.

  4. i just saw a documentary about his life. if you get a chance, see has it.