Abby Mann, Nuremberg screenwriter, dies

Abby Mann, the Jewish writer of socially conscious scripts for movies and television and winner of the 1961 Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay for “Judgment at Nuremberg,” died at 80.

Writers Guild of America spokesman Gregg Mitchell said Mann died March 25. The cause of death was heart failure.

Mann also won multiple Emmys, including one in 1973 for “The Marcus-Nelson Murders,” which introduced a maverick New York police detective named Theo Kojak. The film, starring Telly Savalas, was spun off into the long-running TV series “Kojak.”

In a career spanning more than 50 years as a writer, director and producer, Mann returned repeatedly to morally conscious themes, doing films for television on such subjects as Martin Luther King Jr. and human rights advocate Simon Weisenthal.

Mann was a struggling television writer in the 1950s when he became fixated on the postwar Nuremberg trials that brought to justice the top surviving leaders of the Nazi regime. His “Judgment at Nuremberg” had become a successful drama on television, and against all advice, he was determined to convert it into his first movie script.

“A lot of people didn’t want it done,” he commented in a 1994 interview. “People wanted to sweep the issue under the rug.”

“I believe that a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives, not only to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world,” Mann said when he accepted his Oscar.

Mann was born Abraham Goodman in Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1927, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant. He grew up in a tough factory neighborhood where he said he always felt like an outsider.

Survivors include Mann’s wife and son.

— ap