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My Life as a Mankiewicz

My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insider's Journey through Hollywood

Tom Mankiewicz
Robert Crane
Series: Screen Classics
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    My Life as a Mankiewicz
    Book Description:

    The son of famed director and screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve[1950],Guys and Dolls[1955],Cleopatra[1963]) and the nephew ofCitizen Kanescreenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz was genuine Hollywood royalty. He grew up in Beverly Hills and New York, spent summers on his dad's film sets, had his first drink with Humphrey Bogart, dined with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, went to the theater with Ava Gardner, and traveled the world writing for Brando, Sinatra, and Connery. Although his family connections led him to show business, Tom "Mank" Mankiewicz forged a career of his own, becoming a renowned screenwriter, director, and producer of acclaimed films and television shows. He wrote screenplays for three James Bond films --Diamonds Are Forever(1971),Live and Let Die(1973), andThe Man with the Golden Gun(1974) -- and made his directorial debut with the hit TV seriesHart to Hart(1979--1984).My Life as a Mankiewiczis a fascinating look at the life of an individual whose creativity and work ethic established him as a member of the Hollywood writing elite.

    Mankiewicz details his journey through the inner world of the television and film industries, beginning with his first job as production assistant onThe Comancheros(1961), starring John Wayne.My Life as a Mankiewiczilluminates his professional development as a writer and director, detailing his friendships and romantic relationships with some of Hollywood's biggest stars as well as his struggle with alcohol and drugs. With the assistance of Robert Crane, Mankiewicz tells a story of personal achievement and offers an insider's view of the glamorous world of Hollywood during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3616-5
    Subjects: History, Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Robert Crane
  4. Prologue: This Will Never Happen to You
    (pp. 1-2)

    It’s 1964. I’m twenty-two years old, working on a film as an assistant-to-everyone, and am lucky enough to have been taken under the wing of the volcanically talented Gene Kelly, with whom I play tennis several times a week. Gene has invited me to dinner at his home. Among the guests is the brilliant actor Oskar Werner, who is shootingShip of Foolsat the time. Werner also turns out to be rather unpleasant when he’s been drinking heavily. One of the others at the table finishes a story, looks at Werner, and says, “You Germans ought to understand that...

  5. 1 The Family
    (pp. 3-12)

    The Mankiewicz family was and is a complex network of literate, competitive achievers. The majority write or have written for a living. While capable of real affection, most of us rarely show it. Rather, we caress with one-liners (usually acerbic and at someone else’s expense) or shrewd (we are totally convinced) observations on film, literature, politics, or the state of the world in general.

    My paternal grandfather died before I had a chance to know him. “Pop,” as he was referred to by the family, was Professor Frank Mankiewicz, a German Jew who immigrated through Ellis Island with his wife,...

  6. 2 The 1940s: Growing Up
    (pp. 13-24)

    In the 1940s Beverly Hills was almost a bucolic community compared to today. A small, prosperous town with a trolley car running along Santa Monica Boulevard that could take you all the way to downtown L.A., what there was of it then. Benedict and Coldwater Canyons were paved for only a mile or so before they turned into dirt roads. Many people kept horses up there, and some preferred to ride into town on errands. Shops on Rodeo and Beverly Drives actually had the occasional hitching post to accommodate the equestrians who also used the grass median strip (still there)...

  7. 3 The 1950s: Developing a Character
    (pp. 25-48)

    Needless to say, moving from laid-back southern California (the late comedian Fred Allen called it “a great place to live if you’re an orange”) to the cacophony of taxi horns and bustling pedestrians that was and still is New York City was a culture shock to a nine-year-old. Everyone on the street seemed to walk with a sense of purpose, as if he or she had a mission to accomplish, and right now.

    We moved into a large apartment (the entire ninth floor) at 730 Park Avenue, on the corner of Seventy-First Street. It wasn’t easy getting in. First, the...

  8. 4 The 1960s: Hollywood Off-Ramp
    (pp. 49-100)

    I’m kind of a “third” assistant director on the film. Today’s equivalent on a crew would be called a “trainee.” My first task is to go to the Burbank airport where the film company will take off in a chartered plane for Moab, Utah. I am to check everyone onto the flight. The night before I’m so keyed up I can’t sleep, at least until about 3:00 a.m., when I finally do fall asleep, sleep through my alarm, and miss the flight. Hardly an auspicious start to a show business career. I drive to Fox to take my medicine from...

  9. 5 The 1960s Gallery
    (pp. 101-132)

    Milton was smart, competitive, always “on,” an inveterate cigar smoker and great friend of the Sinatras, Frank in particular. His wife, Ruth, was strong willed, fearlessly funny, and very well may have extended Milton’s life span by a decade. I remember a birthday party for Nancy Sinatra at her sister Tina’s house. Milton and Ruth were there, as were Frank, Jack Haley Jr., I, and several others. I was sitting next to Nancy on a couch when Frank gave her his present. It was a box that contained a smaller box, which contained an even smaller box, which contained a...

  10. 6 The 1970s: Arrival
    (pp. 133-236)

    In 1970, I was a Bond fan like everybody else. There was a screenplay calledDiamonds Are Forever,and Sean Connery had turned it down. Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies, said: “We need a big rewrite and I want to have an American writer because it takes place in Vegas and the Brits write really lousy American gangsters. And I want the writer to be young. We gotta get young. But he or she has got to be able to write in the British idiom because we’ve got Bond and Moneypenny.” And David Picker, head of...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 7 The 1970s Gallery
    (pp. 237-248)

    Whiplash smart, wonderfully talented, actively plain looking, simultaneously cynical and sentimental. Among other things, Paddy was famous for going everywhere without his wife, who apparently had no interest in show business whatsoever. I once explained to him what a great advantage that was—he could go to almost any restaurant or party with whatever woman he chose and introduce her as his wife, no one being the wiser.

    Paddy was the only screenwriter I’ve ever heard of who had the contractual power to approve or even replace a director on an original screenplay of his. He’d cut his teeth in...

  13. 8 The 1980s: Calling Dr. Mankiewicz
    (pp. 249-300)

    I really got to know Dad as a human being in slow stages by always stopping by on my way to Europe, on my way back from Europe. That was seven or eight movies. We’d already had the experience of working in the same studio when he was doingSleuthand I was doingLive and Let Die. And I would go back every Christmas. I wanted to find out many things, because he could be so closed. I don’t mean hostile, but closed. One night in early 1980, I was visiting, and he said, “You know, Tom, I’ve got...

  14. 9 The 1980s Gallery
    (pp. 301-312)

    Hume Cronyn, one of Dad’s closest friends, would say to me, “He brags on you all the time. Just not to you. That’s just him.”

    In 1981, Hume is doingHonky Tonk Freewaywith his wife, Jessica Tandy. They’re staying at a hotel two blocks up from Fox because it’s easy for them to walk to Fox, where they’re shooting. John Schlesinger is directing it. One night Hume is up in their suite with Jessie, and she’s doing a crossword puzzle. He says, “I want to go down to the dining room. I’m feeling antsy. Do you want to come...

  15. 10 The 1990s: What a Fucking Business
    (pp. 313-326)

    I used to bound out of bed to get on the set.Deliriouswas the single happiest experience I ever had. I loved everybody in it. I loved everybody on the crew. I loved everybody around it. John Candy was such a wonderful leader, and I felt I was a leader as well. We were smart and funny and good. My biggest disappointment was that MGM went belly-up. If that picture had been pushed correctly, I’m not saying it would have done $150 million or won any Oscars, but it would have been known as the different kind of picture...

  16. 11 The Tag: Out of Film
    (pp. 327-340)

    When I was at Warners, it was almost a privilege harking back to the forties and fifties when everybody was under contract to a studio. It was like major league baseball before free agency and Curt Flood. You were on a team. You were with Fox, MGM, Warners, Paramount, or Universal. Then, all of a sudden, there was free agency. Kirk Douglas had his own company. My father was one of the first independent companies, Figaro. They madeThe Barefoot ContessaandI Want to Live,which Robert Wise directed. Burt Lancaster had his own company. The Mirisch brothers became...

  17. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 341-342)
  18. Filmography
    (pp. 343-348)
  19. Index
    (pp. 349-370)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 371-372)