Jack Hunter (1921 - 2009):
A Study in Contradictions

Produced by Vic DiGenti for Florida Heritage Book Festival
Videography by WTLV-TV
Post-production by WJCT CreativeWorx

(Click on photo for a larger view) Hunter Greets George Peppard - click for larger view

Wilmington Morning News - click for larger view

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On Location - click for larger view

Jack Hunter’s life was a study in contradictions, some interesting, some bizarre, some outright preposterous.

It began with his refusal to stay dead when the doctor gave him up as stillborn.

Then, over the subsequent years:

He ignored schoolbooks and classes as boring and mostly irrelevant but graduated with honors from high school and college.

Ridley Park High School Graduation, 1939In college he was no athlete, preferring to be a frat-house lounge lizard, yet was awarded a varsity letter for his management of the school’s renowned track team.

He was too impatient to take music lessons but taught himself to play the piano and financed much of his higher education by playing piano in a professional dance orchestra.

He hated regimentation but enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor and was eventually decorated for his achievements as an officer in the subsequent shoot-out.

He abhored violence and deviousness but led a counterintelligence team that rounded up and imprisoned 2,000 high-level German Nazi seditionists.

He wrote a novel entitled The Blue Max which leading publishers disdained as unpublishable — but which later went on to sell a million copies and become a major movie that still plays today — more than 40 years later — on TV, VCR, and DVD screens worldwide. He went on to publish a total of 17 novels, many of them best-sellers.

He always liked to sketch and paint airplanes and trains and boats, and his first canvases were the margins of his schoolbooks. In his 60s, he remembered the fun of all that and decided to revisit it. After teaching himself from “How-To” books, he became a successful aviation artist — despite his colorblindness, which requires him to use only paints and inks and pastels whose colors are clearly labeled.

Hunter's most recent novel, entitled The Ace, came out in October, 2008. A broad-scale view of the human cost of America’s effort in 1917-18 to build and field an air force from scratch after the declaration of war with Imperial Germany, it’s a multi-tiered story that weaves together the lives of a troubled young fighter ace in France, an Army major serving as a consultant to Congress, an unscrupulous Senator, and a beautiful Philadelphia Main Line heiress. Said Hunter, “It takes these people, stirs them in the heat of heroic sacrifice, high-level corruption, slam-bang aerial combat, and unrequited love, then serves up a spread unlike anything ever done in World War I literature. A labor of love, it is, to be sure — but a love which I hope is not unrequited.”

Until he became ill in early 2009, he managed to find time for his music, his painting, and this web site, whose blog, he said, brought him the greatest of an author’s rewards: the satisfaction of writing what he wanted to write, when he wanted to write it, and for whom he wanted to write.

On April 13, 2009, Jack Hunter moved on to his next life, and is probably creating his usual havoc on the other side. He will be sorely missed by those of us left on this side.