John Meredyth Lucas
1919 - 2002
"Go with God"
William Shatner and John on the set of Star
was born in Hollywood on May 1, 1919 in the heart of the burgeoning
film community. His mother was the noted writer and actress Bess
Meredyth and his father the actor and director Wilfred Lucas.
John got a taste for location shooting early in his career, when
at seven months of age he went with his parents to Australia to
film the first full length film made down under, The Man From
Kangaroo written by his mother, and directed by and co-starring
When the family returned to Hollywood, his parents worked both
individually and together, but when Bess was sent by Louis B.
Mayer to Rome to try to save the floundering production of Ben
Hur, John was left with his father and his nursemaid. Bess's
long stay in Rome saved the picture, but did not bode well for
the marriage. Although they divorced when John was very young,
his parents’ parting was amicable. He lived with his mother,
but he saw his father often when shooting schedules permitted.
When John was ten his mother re-married, to a Hungarian director
newly imported from Europe by Warner Brothers named Michael Curtiz.
At the time, John was more concerned with avoiding an education
at a seemingly endless string of military schools than dealing
with a new stepfather. Despite his best efforts, John learned
enough to know the value of books, and became an avid reader,
often reading a book a day even when working on a film.
After brief appearances at UCLA, the Pasadena Playhouse School,
and, during World War II, the US Army, John began professional
life as a script clerk at Warner Brothers, often working on Mike
Curtiz’s films. It was not until he began writing and directing,
however, that John found a purpose in his work. He also found
a young Australian actress, another import at Warners. She was
born Joan MacGillicuddy, but Jack Warner re-christened her Joan
Winfield, and put her under contract to the studio.
John was also impressed. He and Joan married in 1951 and had
three children, Elizabeth, Victoria and Michael. John continued
writing and directing, now concentrating on the growing television
industry in such groundbreaking series as Medic, The
Loretta Young Show and Disney’s Zorro. In
1960, following in his parents’ footsteps, he took his family
to Sydney to make the first international TV series shot in Australia,
Whiplash, starring Peter Graves.
Returning to Hollywood, John wrote, directed and produced such
classic television series as Ben Casey, The Fugitive,
Mannix and the original, cult-creating Star Trek.
For five years he spent several months a year on location in Toronto
on the syndicated series Simon Locke (later called Police
Surgeon), and following that continued his love of location
work with a round-the-world documentary on world hunger.
In 1978 Joan died after a long battle with cancer. In 1980 John
met businesswoman Patricia Hightower at a party, and several months
later they married. They moved to the beach, where John wrote
on series such as Six Million Dollar Man and Planet
of the Apes, and where he could indulge his lifelong love
of sailing. He also wrote and directed Yeshua, a film
shot in Israel, so he was able to introduce Pat to life on location.
For years his children had been begging him to write down the
stories of family history that had been told and retold over riotous
family dinners, and he finally began work on this book in 2000.
Wonderfully, the collaborating with his children on these stories
over the next two years brought them all even closer together.
The book finished, and surrounded by his family, John died on
October 19, 2002.