Stuart Nathaniel Lake (September 23, 1889, Rome, New York – January 27, 1964, San Diego, California) was a writer whose material dealt largely with the American Old West.
His 1931 biography of Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, was a bestseller and was adapted for several films, including Frontier Marshal, a 1939 production starring Randolph Scott, and John Ford's My Darling Clementine. His work also inspired the 1955-1961 ABC television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian in the title role. The biography was later found to be highly fictional. Lake was the first writer to describe Earp's use of the Colt Buntline. Later researchers have been unable to establish that Earp ever owned such a weapon.
Lake also wrote for other motion pictures, including The Westerner, starring Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan; Powder River with Rory Calhoun; and Winchester '73 starring James Stewart.
Before becoming a writer, Lake had been a professional wrestling promoter and a press aide to Theodore Roosevelt during the Bull Moose presidential campaign in 1912. During World War I, he was run over by a truck.
In 1951, Lake made allegations against Robert M. Wright, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1875 to 1883, and a founder and later mayor of Dodge City, Kansas. In a letter to the author and historian Stanley Vestal of the University of Oklahoma, Lake said that in 1878, Wright had pocketed $25,000 as a "fee" from the South Texas cattleman Mifflin Kenedy, for whom Kenedy County, Texas, is named. Lake claimed that Kenedy had paid the money to gain acquittal of his son, James "Spike" Kenedy (1855-1884), in the inadvertent shooting death of the popular dance hall singer, Dora Hand. Young Kenedy and James H. "Dog" Kelley, another early Dodge City mayor, were both suitors of Dora. Kenedy thought that he was shooting Kelley, rather than Dora.
Lake wrote scripts for the following shows.
- Winchester '73 (TV Movie) (story-uncredited) 1967
- Powder River (based on a book by Lake) 1953
- Winchester '73 (story) 1950
- My Darling Clementine (based on the book by Lake) 1946
- Wells Fargo Days (Short) (dialogue/story) 1944
- The Westerner (film) (from the story by Lake) 1940
- Frontier Marshal (1939 film) (based on a book by Lake) 1939
- Wells Fargo (film) (based on a story by Lake) 1937
- Frontier Marshal (1939 film) (based on the novel Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal) 1934
- Buck Privates (story) 1928
- Stuart N. Lake at the Internet Movie Database