Don Mankiewicz, man behind ‘Ironside,’ dies in California at age 93
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 (http://lat.ms/1GpfUpH).
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.