Thomas Frank "Tom" Mankiewicz (June 1, 1942 – July 31, 2010) was a screenwriter, director, and producer of theatrical films and television, perhaps best known for his work on the James Bond films and his contributions to Superman: The Movie and the television series, Hart to Hart.
Mankiewicz was born in Los Angeles, California on June 1, 1942. His parents were Austrian-born actress Rosa Stradner and screenwriter/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. In 1950, his father, after winning four Academy Awards in two years for the screenplays and direction of A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, decided to move his family back to New York City where he had been raised. There, the young Mankiewicz graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, and began his film career in 1960 as an assistant director on John Wayne's The Comancheros. In 1964, he received his first on-screen credit as production associate on the film adaptation of Gore Vidal's The Best Man. On that credit, he went with "Thomas F. Mankiewicz", but decided it was too pompous and shortened it to Tom Mankiewicz.
After writing for various television, film, and stage projects, United Artists production head David Picker, who admired Mankiewicz's book for Georgy, approached James Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli about hiring Mankiewicz to do a major reworking of Diamonds Are Forever. Mankiewicz was hired on a two-week guarantee, stayed on the film for six months, and received shared screenplay credit with the original screenwriter, Richard Maibaum. Mankiewicz's reworking eliminated the main villains from the source Ian Fleming novel, mobsters called Jack and Seraffimo Spang, but used the henchmen Shady Tree, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. After Roger Moore was selected to play Bond in Live and Let Die, Mankiewicz solely wrote the screenplay to fit Moore's persona by giving more comedy scenes and a light-hearted approach to Bond. Mankiewicz also suggested writing Solitaire into a black woman, with singer-actress Diana Ross as his primary choice. However, Broccoli and Saltzman decided to stick to Fleming's Caucasian description, and after thinking of Catherine Deneuve, Jane Seymour was cast for the role. Mankiewicz also created Sheriff J.W. Pepper to add a comic relief character. Portrayed by Clifton James, Pepper appeared again in The Man with the Golden Gun.
For The Man with the Golden Gun, Mankiewicz submitted a first draft for the script in 1973, which detailed the battle of wills between Bond and Francisco Scaramanga, who he saw as Bond's alter ego, "a super-villain of the stature of Bond himself." However, tensions between Mankiewicz and Guy Hamilton led to Maibaum returning to the series. Maibaum, who had worked on six Bond films previously, delivered his own draft based on Mankiewicz's work. Much of the plot involving Scaramanga being Bond's equal was sidelined in later drafts. After doing an uncredited rewrite on The Spy Who Loved Me, Mankiewicz wrote a short outline  for Moonraker, but it was mostly discarded. According to Mankiewicz, footage shot at Drax's lairs was considerably more detailed than the edited result in the final version.
Two years before the release of 1978's Superman, director Richard Donner, dissastified with the campy script written by Thomas and Leslie Newman and Mario Puzo, brought in Mankiewicz do a complete overhaul in terms of length, dialogue and tone. According to Mankiewicz, "not a word from the Puzo script was used". Mankiewicz reduced the script from about 550 pages to less than 110 pages for the film. Also, he conceived that each Kryptonian family wear a crest resembling a different letter, justifying the 'S' on Superman's costume. The Writers Guild of America refused to credit Mankiewicz for his rewrites, so Donner gave him a creative consultant credit, much to the annoyance of the Guild. The Guild had argued that Mankiewicz hadn't used its arbitration process.
The following year, in 1979, television producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg decided to update an unused script titled Double Twist, written by Sidney Sheldon, for a potential television series. They offered the script to Mankiewicz, who had written several screenplays for the James Bond films. Their instruction to Mankiewicz was to update the script to make it more contemporary and viable for a potential weekly series. They also told Mankiewicz that if his draft was successful, he would also be able to direct the pilot episode himself. Mankiewicz reworked Sheldon's original script and it was renamed Hart to Hart. Mankiewicz also made his directorial debut with the pilot episode as planned, and remained a "Creative Consultant" on the series afterwards.
Mankiewicz continued to work with Donner on several film projects before his next directorial debut with the spy spoof, Dragnet. then directed the film Delirious, starring John Candy and Mariel Hemingway. Next he directed the season's opening episode of HBO's Tales from the Crypt. This was followed by his directing the Showtime film, Taking the Heat. Later, Mankiewicz reunited with Richard Donner to reconstruct his version of Superman II, restoring all of the original footage he had shot which had been altered or replaced by the producers. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released in 2006, and won the Saturn Award as the best DVD of the year. Since 2006, Mankiewicz began teaching filmmaking to graduate students at Chapman University in Orange.
In April 2010, Mankiewicz had undergone the Whipple operation, which is used to treat pancreatic cancer. However, Mankiewicz passed away at his Los Angeles home on July 31, 2010 after a brief illness. He was survived by his brother Christopher, his sister Alexandra; and his stepmother, Rosemary Mankiewicz, as well as cousins, including critic Ben Mankiewicz and writer-producer John Mankiewicz.
- Tom Mankiewicz (1942-2010). MI6: The Home of James Bond 007. Retrieved on 2013-01-08.
- Hickerson, Michael (2010-08-03). Remembering Tom Mankiewicz. Slice of Sci-Fi.com. Extended Magazine Theme. Retrieved on 2013-01-08.
- Nelson, Valerie J. (2010-08-03). Tom Mankiewicz dies at 68; screenwriter for James Bond, Superman films. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2013-01-08.
- Audio Commentary track: Diamonds Are Forever Ultimate Edition, Region 4 [DVD]. MGM Home Entertainment. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- Tom Mankiewicz and Robert Crane, My Life as a Mankiewicz, University Press of Kentucky 2012 p. 155
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- NTSC, Widescreen, Closed-captioned) Inside Live and Let Die: Live and Let Die Ultimate Edition, Disc 2 (DVD). MGM/UA Home Video. 2000. ASIN: B000LY209E.
- Benson, Raymond (1988). The James Bond Bedside Companion, pg. 215. London: Boxtree Ltd. ISBN 1-85283-234-7.
- Smith, Jim (2002). Bond Films, pg. 137. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-0709-4.
- Inside The Man with the Golden Gun (DVD). The Man with the Golden Gun Ultimate Edition, Disc 2: MGM/UA Home Video. 2000.
- Smith, Jim (2002). Bond Films, pg. 138. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-0709-4.
- The 2006 Tom Mankiewicz Interview. Caped Wonder.com. Warner Bros. Corporation.
- Tom Mankiewicz Interview Continued.
- Daniel Dickholtz (1998-12-16). "Steel Dreams: Interview with Tom Mankiewicz". Starlog: pp. 67–71.
- Don Shay. "Richard Donner on Superman", Cinefantastique, Summer 1979, pp. 26–36. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- David Hughes (2003). "Superman: The Movie". Comic Book Movies. Virgin Books. pp. 5–23. ISBN 0-7535-0767-6.
- Maibaum and Mankiewicz on Writing James Bond
- The Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University
- The William Holden Wildlife Foundation
- The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
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