Born in 1923 in Grants Pass, Oregon, Jack H. Bailey was descended from gold miners who traveled the Oregon Trail to find their fortunes in gold country. Jack’s great grandfather, John Layton owned several gold mines in Josephine County, Oregon. It was this mining heritage that piqued Jack’s early interest in Harry Orchard. Throughout his youth, Jack’s father’s job as a traveling salesman took the family to many towns that had their roots in mining.
With his parents’ permission, Jack entered the Navy in 1940 at 17, joining the crew of the USS Lexington, where he served until the ship was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May of 1942. Jack rose through the enlisted ranks and became one of the youngest Chief Petty Officers in the Navy at that time.
After the war, Jack settled in Los Angeles and enrolled at USC, where he majored in English. It was while earning his BA at USC, that Jack met his wife, Wanda, to whom he was married for 57 years. After college, Jack’s talent for writing and his knowledge of aircraft earned him a position at North American Aviation as a technical writer. During his sixteen years of tenure there, he rose rapidly through the ranks into upper management.
Throughout his life, Jack was a prolific writer, publishing two novels based on his experiences over 16 years in the aerospace industry. The critically praised The Number Two Man and The Icarus Complex were released in 1968 and 1972 respectively. Jack later turned his attention to screenplays, penning more than 20 over the years. Notably, many of these were entered in the prestigious Nicoll Fellowship screenwriting competition, sponsored annually by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where Jack was one of only a handful of writers to have advanced in the competition seven times.
Jack continued to write until his death in 2010. Orchard was one of Jack’s favorite projects.
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