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Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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Title: Joseph L. Mankiewicz  
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Subject: Miloš Forman, Academy Award for Best Directing, Billy Wilder, All About Eve, Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
Collection: 1909 Births, 1993 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Businesspeople, American Film Directors, American Film Producers, American Jews, American Male Screenwriters, American People of German-Jewish Descent, American Screenwriters, Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award Winners, Best Director Academy Award Winners, Columbia University Alumni, Deaths from Heart Failure, Directors Guild of America Award Winners, English-Language Film Directors, Film Directors from Pennsylvania, German-Language Film Directors, Jewish American Writers, Mankiewicz Family, People from Bedford, New York, People from the Scranton–wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Area, Presidents of the Directors Guild of America, Stuyvesant High School Alumni, Writers Guild of America Award Winners
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Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Born Joseph Leo Mankiewicz
(1909-02-11)February 11, 1909
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died February 5, 1993(1993-02-05) (aged 83)
Bedford, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation Writer, director, producer
Years active 1929–1972
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Young (m. 1934–37) (1908-2007)
Rose Stradner (m. 1939–58)
Rosemary Matthews (m. 1962–93)
Children Eric Reynal
Tom Mankiewicz
Christopher Mankiewicz
Alex Mankiewicz
Relatives Herman J. Mankiewicz (brother)

Joseph Leo Mankiewicz (February 11, 1909 – February 5, 1993) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career, and twice won the Academy Award for both Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay, for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950).


  • Early life 1
  • Hollywood career 2
  • Family history 3
  • Death 4
  • Filmography 5
    • Director 5.1
    • Writer 5.2
  • Awards 6
    • Directed Academy Award Performances 6.1
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Joseph Mankiewicz was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to Franz Mankiewicz (died 1941) and Johanna Blumenau, Jewish immigrants from Germany.[1][2][3] He had a sister, Erna Mankiewicz (1901–1979), and a brother, Herman J. Mankiewicz (1897–1953), who became a screenwriter.[4][5] Herman also won an Oscar for co-writing Citizen Kane (1941).[6]

At age four, Mankiewicz moved with his family to New York City where he graduated in 1924 from Stuyvesant High School.[7] In 1928, he obtained a bachelor's degree from Columbia University. For a time he worked in Berlin, Germany, as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune newspaper before entering the motion picture business.

Hollywood career

Comfortable in a variety of genres and able to elicit career performances from actors and actresses alike, Joseph L. Mankiewicz combined ironic, sophisticated scripts with a precise, sometimes stylised mise en scène. Mankiewicz worked for seventeen years as a screenwriter for Paramount and as a producer for MGM before getting a chance to direct at Twentieth Century-Fox. Over six years he made 11 films for Fox, reaching a peak in 1950 and 1951 when he won consecutive Academy Awards for Screenplay and Direction for both A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six.

During his long career in Hollywood, Mankiewicz wrote forty-eight screenplays. He also produced more than twenty films including The Philadelphia Story which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1941. However, he is best known for the films he directed, twice winning the Academy Award for Best Director. In 1944, he produced The Keys of the Kingdom, which starred Gregory Peck, and featured Mankiewicz's then-wife, Rose Stradner, in a supporting role as a nun.

In 1951 Mankiewicz left Fox and moved to New York, intending to write for the Broadway stage. Although this dream never materialised, he continued to make films (both for his own production company Figaro and as a director-for-hire) that explored his favourite themes – the clash of aristocrat with commoner, life as performance and the clash between people's urge to control their fate and the contingencies of real life.

In 1953 he directed Julius Caesar for MGM, an adaptation of Shakespeare's play. It received widely favorable reviews, and David Shipman, in The Story of Cinema, described it as a "film of quiet excellence, faltering only in the later moments when budget restrictions hampered the handling of the battle sequences".[8] The film serves as the only record of Marlon Brando in a Shakespearean role; he played Mark Antony, and received an Oscar nomination for his performance.

In 1958 Mankiewicz directed The Quiet American, an adaptation of Graham Greene's 1955 novel about the seed of American military involvement in what would become the Vietnam War. Mankiewicz, under career pressure from the climate of anti-Communism and the Hollywood blacklist, distorted the message of Greene's book, changing major parts of the story to appeal to a nationalistic audience. A cautionary tale about America's blind support for "anti-Communists" was turned into, according to Greene, a "propaganda film for America".[9]

Cleopatra consumed two years of Mankiewicz's life and ended up both derailing his career and causing extreme severe financial losses for the studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, which were not fully recovered until Rodgers and Hammerstein's immensely popular and acclaimed The Sound of Music was released two years later. Mankiewicz made more films, however, garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Direction in 1972 for Sleuth, his final directing effort, starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. In 1983, he was a member of the jury at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival.[10]

Family history

He was the younger brother of Herman J. Mankiewicz. His sons are Eric Reynal (from his first marriage), the late writer/director Tom Mankiewicz, and producer Christopher Mankiewicz. He also has a daughter, Alex Mankiewicz. His great-nephew is radio & television personality Ben Mankiewicz, who currently can be seen on TCM. He also was the uncle of Frank Mankiewicz, a well-known political campaign manager who officially announced the death of the assassinated presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. He was not related to the similar sounding British screenwriter, Wolf Mankowitz.


Mankiewicz died of a heart attack on February 5, 1993, six days before his 84th birthday, and was interred in Saint Matthew's Episcopal Churchyard cemetery, Bedford, New York.[7]



Year Title Production company Cast Notes
1946 Dragonwyck 20th Century Fox Gene Tierney / Vincent Price
Somewhere in the Night Richard Conte / John Hodiak / Nancy Guild
1947 The Late George Apley Ronald Colman
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir George Sanders
1948 Escape Rex Harrison / Peggy Cummins / William Hartnell
1949 A Letter to Three Wives Jeanne Crain / Linda Darnell / Ann Sothern
House of Strangers Edward G. Robinson / Susan Hayward / Richard Conte
1950 No Way Out Richard Widmark / Sidney Poitier / Linda Darnell
All About Eve George Sanders
1951 People Will Talk Cary Grant / Jeanne Crain / Hume Cronyn
1952 5 Fingers James Mason / Danielle Darrieux
1953 Julius Caesar Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Marlon Brando / James Mason / John Gielgud
1954 The Barefoot Contessa 20th Century Fox Humphrey Bogart / Ava Gardner Technicolor film
1955 Guys and Dolls Samuel Goldwyn / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Marlon Brando / Jean Simmons / Frank Sinatra Eastmancolor film
1958 The Quiet American 20th Century Fox Audie Murphy / Graham Greene
1959 Suddenly, Last Summer Elizabeth Taylor / Montgomery Clift / Katharine Hepburn
1963 Cleopatra Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton / Rex Harrison DeLuxe film
1964 A Carol for Another Christmas ABC Sterling Hayden / Peter Sellers Television film
1967 The Honey Pot Famous Artists Productions Rex Harrison / Susan Hayward / Maggie Smith Technicolor film
1970 King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis Commonwealth United Entertainment Co-directed with Sidney Lumet / Documentary film
There Was a Crooked Man... Warner Bros. Kirk Douglas / Henry Fonda / Hume Cronyn Technicolor film
1972 Sleuth Palomar Pictures Laurence Olivier / Michael Caine Color film



Year Film Result Category
Academy Awards
1931 Skippy Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay
1941 The Philadelphia Story Nominated Best Picture
1950 A Letter to Three Wives Won Best Director
Won Best Writing, Screenplay
1951 All About Eve Won Best Director
Won Best Writing, Screenplay
No Way Out Nominated Best Original Screenplay
1953 5 Fingers Nominated Best Director
1955 The Barefoot Contessa Nominated Best Original Screenplay
1973 Sleuth Nominated Best Director
Directors Guild of America
1949 A Letter to Three Wives Won Outstanding Directorial Achievement
1951 All About Eve Won Outstanding Directorial Achievement
1953 5 Fingers Nominated Outstanding Directorial Achievement
1954 Julius Caesar Nominated Outstanding Directorial Achievement
1981 Won Honorary Life Member Award
1986 Won Lifetime Achievement Award
Writers Guild of America
1950 A Letter to Three Wives Won Best Written American Comedy
1951 All About Eve Won Best Written American Comedy
Nominated Best Written American Drama
No Way Out Nominated The Robert Meltzer Award
1952 People Will Talk Nominated Best Written American Comedy
1955 The Barefoot Contessa Nominated Best Written American Drama
1956 Guys and Dolls Nominated Best Written American Musical
1963 Won Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement

Directed Academy Award Performances

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
1953 Marlon Brando Julius Caesar Nominated
1963 Rex Harrison Cleopatra Nominated
1972 Michael Caine Sleuth Nominated
1972 Laurence Olivier Sleuth Nominated
Academy Award for Best Actress
1950 Anne Baxter All About Eve Nominated
1950 Bette Davis All About Eve Nominated
1959 Katharine Hepburn Suddenly, Last Summer Nominated
1959 Elizabeth Taylor Suddenly, Last Summer Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1950 George Sanders All About Eve Won
1954 Edmond O'Brien The Barefoot Contessa Won
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1950 Celeste Holm All About Eve Nominated
1950 Thelma Ritter All About Eve Nominated


  1. ^ The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1998.  
  2. ^ Joseph L. Mankiewicz. 1983.  
  3. ^ "Dr. Frank Mankiewicz".  
  4. ^ "Joseph Mankiewicz Weds. MGM Producer Marries Rose Stradner, Viennese Actress".  
  5. ^ "Erna Mankiewicz Stenbuck, 78, Retired New York Schoolteacher".  
  6. ^ "H. J. Mankiewicz, Screenwriter, 56. Winner of Academy Award in 1941 Dies. Playwright Was Former Newspaper Man.".  
  7. ^ a b Flint, Peter (February 6, 1993). "Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Literate Skeptic of the Cinema, Dies at 83".  
  8. ^ David Shipman The Story of Cinemas, Volume 2: From "Citizen Kane to the Present Day, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984, p.852
  9. ^ Alford, Matthew (November 14, 2008). "An offer they couldn't refuse". The Guardian (London). 
  10. ^ "Berlinale: 1983 Juries". Retrieved November 14, 2010. 

Further reading

  • Chrissochoidis, Ilias (ed.). Files Cleopatra The: Selected Documents from the Spyros P. Skouras Archive. Stanford, 2013.
  • Brodsky, Jack; Nathan Weiss (1963). The Cleopatra Papers. New York: Simon and Schuster. 
  • Mankiewicz, Joseph L.; Gary Carey (1972). More About 'All About Eve'. New York: Random House. 
  • Geist, Kenneth L. (1978). Pictures Will Talk: The Life and Films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz. New York: Scribners.  
  • Cheryl Bray Lower: Joseph L. Mankiewicz: Critical Essays and Guide to Resources. Jefferson, NC, McFarland & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-7864-0987-8
  • Bernard F. Dick: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. New York, Twayne Publishers, 1983. ISBN 0-8057-9291-0
  • Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 1-59393-320-7.

External links

  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz at the Internet Movie Database
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz at the TCM Movie Database
  • Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz at Find a Grave
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
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