Brother Abby Mann Joins the Chapter Eternal
Monday, March 31, 2008
Brother and Oscar winning screenwriter, Abby Mann died of heart failure on Tuesday, March 25th at the age of 80. Brother Mann was initiated in 1946 to the PA Alpha Delta chapter at Temple University. Brother Mann was awarded the Big Pi award in 1963. The Big Pi is Pi Lambda Phi’s highest award for outstanding achievement which brings honor to the Fraternity.
A Philadelphia native, Mann was born Abraham Goodman, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Mann grew up in a tough working class Catholic neighborhood where he often felt like an outsider. Many of his characters were from the perspective of those facing injustice and his upbringing greatly influenced his work which addressed issue related and thought provoking projects.
Mann’s most notable works include Oscar winning 1961’s “Judgment at Nuremberg”, Emmy winning 1973’s “The Marcus-Nelson Murders”, and 1989’s “Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story.” “The Marcus-Nelson Murders” gave birth to the character Kojak, which became a long running TV series. He also adapted Katherine Anne Porter’s novel “Ship of Fools” which as directed by fellow Pi Lam, Stanley Kramer. His projects also included biopics of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr and Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
In 1946 he became interested in the Nuremberg Trials, writing the award winning screenplay and later a novel. In a 2001 interview with the Associated Press, Mann said that when the drama first aired, "there were a lot of people who felt we really should not do it. The Cold War was at its height. Some people felt I was embarrassing the [Eisenhower] administration."
After receiving his Oscar in 1962, Mann commented, “I believe that a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world.”
"I think he obviously was a very serious, substantive writer who was able to deal with a very strong social conscience and a very strong sense of what it was like to be an outsider, functioning within a society or system that didn't have your best interests at heart," said David Bushman, television curator at the Paley Center for Media in New York. "He elevated the level of television because of his skills as a writer and his devotion to taking on serious, controversial issues, . . . usually taking on the side of the underdog."
Mann is survived by his wife, Myra, and a son.