Monday, October 4, 2010

Actor Joe Mantell R.I.P.

Joe Mantell, who appeared in films from The Birds to Chinatown, passed on September 29, 2010 at the age of 94. The cause was pneumonia.

Joe Mantell was born in Brooklyn on December 21, 1915. During World War II he served in the United States Army.

 He made his movie debut in Undercover Man in 1949, playing the uncredited role of a newsboy. He appeared in uncredited roles in Barbary Pirate (1949), Point of New York (1949), and And Baby Makes Three (1949). Throughout much of the Fifities Mr. Mantell appeared on television, in such shows as Out There, Suspense, Lights Out, Mister Peepers, The Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, Inner Sanctum, Studio One, Kraft Theatre, The 20th Century Fox Hour, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Climax, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Wanted Dead or Alive, One Step Beyond, and The Untouchables. He appeared in the films Marty (1955--reprising the role of Angie from Philco-Goodyear Playhouse), Storm Centre (1956), The Sad Sack (1957), Onionhead (1958), and The Crowded Sky (1960).

 In the Sixties he appeared in such shows as The Roaring 20's, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, Pete and Gladys, Cain's Hundred, Combat, The Defenders, The Twilight Zone, My Three Sons, The Virginian, Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Mannix. He appeared in the films The Birds (1963), Mister Buddwing (1966), and Kelly's Heroes (1970). In the Seventies he appeared in the films Chinatown (1974). He appeared on such shows as Ironside, All in the Family, Maude, Lou Grant, and Hart to Hart. In the Eighties he appeared on the shows Hart to Hart and Barney Miller. He appeared in the films Blame It on the Night (1984), Mover and Shakers (1985), and The Two Jakes (1990--in which he reprised his role as Walsh from Chinatown).

Joe Mantell was an immensely talented actor who fully deserved the Oscar nomination for his role as Angie in Marty. He was capable of playing roles convincingly even when they were very small. There is no greater proof of this than the role of Walsh in Chinatown. The role was not very big, but Mr. Mantell remains memorable. Indeed, it is a mark of his skill as an actor that he delivered the most memorable lines in both Marty and Chinatown--"What do you feel like doin’ tonight?" in the former, "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown" in the latter. While it is true that both lines were written by the movie's respective writers, but it was Mr. Mantell's delivery that made them memorable.

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