Walter Wager, 79; Spy Novels Were Turned Into Hollywood Films

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Walter Wager, 79, whose spy novels were turned into movies starring Bruce Willis and Charles Bronson, died Sunday of brain cancer in New York City, his family said.

Among his novels was "58 Minutes" (1987), the basis for the 1990 box-office hit "Die Hard 2," starring Willis. Two other novels were adapted for the screen: "Telefon" (1975), which became a movie of the same name with Charles Bronson in 1977, and "Viper Three" (1971), the basis for the 1977 film "Twilight's Last Gleaming" with Burt Lancaster.

His recent books often concerned villains with dreams of world domination. "Tunnel" (2000) was about a plot to bomb New York City's Lincoln Tunnel; "The Spirit Team" (1996) involved a deadly blue fungus unleashed by a North African dictator.

He wrote 25 novels and several works of nonfiction. Most of his books published in the 1960s were written under the pseudonym John Tiger.

Wager was born in the Bronx and graduated from Columbia College. He earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1946 and a master's in aviation law from Northwestern University in 1949.

From the mid-1960s to the late '70s, he was editor of Ascap Today, a publication of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

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