Don Mankiewicz, man be­hind ‘Ironside,’ dies in Cal­i­for­nia at age 93

The China Post - - ARTS -

Don M. Mankiewicz, an Os­carnom­i­nated screen­writer from a leg­endary Hol­ly­wood fam­ily who cre­ated the tele­vi­sion shows “Mar­cus Welby, M.D.” and “Ironside,” has died in Cal­i­for­nia. He was 93.

Mankiewicz died Satur­day of con­ges­tive heart fail­ure at his home near Los An­ge­les, his son John told the Los An­ge­les Times (

The son of Her­man J. Mankiewicz, co-writer of “Cit­i­zen Kane,” Don Mankiewicz grew up in Bev­erly Hills, where his par­ents’ din­ner guests in­cluded the Marx Broth­ers and Greta Garbo. His un­cle was Joseph Mankiewicz, direc­tor of “All About Eve” and other clas­sic films.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Columbia Uni­ver­sity in 1942 and serv­ing in Army in­tel­li­gence, Don Mankiewicz be­came a staff writer for the New Yorker, con­trib­uted to other mag­a­zines and started work­ing in TV.

Early in his TV ca­reer, he wrote scripts for the drama se­ries “Play­house 90.” He was as­signed to adapt F. Scott Fitzger­ald’s “The Last Ty­coon” at least in part be­cause he came of age dur­ing its old Hol­ly­wood set­ting, the Times said.

“I was prob­a­bly the only writer around who had ac­tu­ally seen Fitzger­ald in per­son,” he told TV his­to­rian Stephen Bowie in a 2007 oral his­tory. “He hung around with my fa­ther a lit­tle bit.” In 1954, Mankiewicz pub­lished the novel “Trial” that was made into a movie star­ring Glenn Ford and Dorothy McGuire.

Mankiewicz earned an Academy Award nom­i­na­tion for his 1958 screen­play adap­ta­tion of “I Want to Live!” about a pros­ti­tute falsely ac­cused of mur­der. It was loosely based on the true story of Bar­bara Gra­ham, who was put to death in Cal­i­for­nia’s gas cham­ber in 1955 and was known in head­lines as “Bloody Babs.”

At the same time, he be­came ac­tive in Demo­cratic Party pol­i­tics. In 1952, he lost a race for the New York state As­sem­bly but stayed in­volved in lo­cal and state pol­i­tics for years.

As a mem­ber of the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica, Mankiewicz helped gain union rep­re­sen­ta­tion for quiz-show writ­ers, the news­pa­per said.

In 1967, he wrote the pi­lot for the long-run­ning TV se­ries “Ironside,” star­ring Ray­mond Burr as a para­plegic pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor. Two years later, he did the pi­lot for “Mar­cus Welby, M.D.” He con­trib­uted later episodes to both.

Mankiewicz’s sur­vivors in­clude Carol Mankiewicz, his wife of 43 years; daugh­ters Jan Diaz and Sandy Perez from his first mar­riage; son John and daugh­ter Jane from his sec­ond mar­riage; and four grand­chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to the Times.

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