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

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

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

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


The son of famed director and screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve [1950], Guys and Dolls [1955], Cleopatra [1963]) and the nephew of Citizen Kane screenwriter 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), and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) -- and made his directorial debut with the hit TV series Hart to Hart (1979--1984). My Life as a Mankiewicz is 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 on The Comancheros (1961), starring John Wayne. My Life as a Mankiewicz illuminates 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.


During spring 1990 I was working for actor John Candy and his company, Frostbacks Productions, in a variety of positions, including producer, publicist, and assistant. The few of us there wore multiple hats. I stuck by John’s side as he filmed Delirious, directed by Tom Mankiewicz, in New York, Santa Barbara, and Universal City. Although John came from a workingclass background in Toronto and Tom was part of the iconic Hollywood family, they hit it off immediately. Tom made references to Yale, John made references to SCTV. John danced with Emma Samms and romanced Mariel Hemingway, while Tom was hitting his stride directing his second feature (after the hit Dragnet). Doug Claybourne (Apocalypse Now) produced, Tom’s long-time assistant Annie Stevens associate produced, and Fred Freeman and Lawrence Cohen wrote a funny script. Raymond Burr and Dylan Baker went against type and delivered comic lines, while Charlie Rocket and David Rasche were hysterical. Tom’s Hart to Hart cohort Robert Wagner worked two days and thoroughly impressed John. The shoot turned out to be a three-month love-in.

But the best part of the ten-week experience was the end of each shooting day. John and his posse would visit Tom’s trailer, or Tom and any number of cast members, producers, and crew would drop in on John’s dressing room. A rum and Coke was poured for John, a Jack Daniel’s for Tom. Cigarettes would be lit. The rest of us hovered and listened while the stories poured out of Tom. Brando, Sinatra, Bogart, Liz Taylor, Kubrick, Ava Gardner, Lancaster, Liza, Scorsese, Sophia, Sean Connery; 007, Superman, Detective Joe Friday; Cinecittà, Jamaica, London; the fifties, sixties, seventies; Papa Joe, Uncle Herman, Zanuck, Cohn; Nancy Sinatra, Herb Alpert, Paul McCartney. Laughs, tears, jaws dropping, heads shaking.

Damn. Tom had been everywhere and had worked with, played with, or slept with everyone in Hollywood (just females on the sleepovers). John was mesmerized. He and all of us were transported to another time, another place, when Hollywood was the entertainment capital of the world and actors, actresses, and filmmakers were the best ambassadors the United . . .

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