Page last updated at 10:04 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

Oscar-winning writer Mann dies

Abby Mann at the 1961 Oscars
Mann won an Oscar for the script of Judgement at Nuremberg

Abby Mann, the Oscar-winning writer of the 1961 film Judgment At Nuremberg, has died at the age of 80.

Gregg Mitchell, spokesman for the Writers Guild of America, said Mann passed away on Tuesday but did not give details of the cause of death.

Mann also won several Emmys, including one for a TV film called The Marcus-Nelson Murders which introduced a maverick detective called Theo Kojak.

The film gave birth to the long-running TV series Kojak.

'Moral compass'

Mann's career spanned more than 50 years as a writer, director and producer.

His projects also included TV biopics of the US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and the Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

"Abby was brought along by great producers like Herbert Brodkin, but his passion was his own," said Del Reisman, former president of the Writers Guild of America, West.

"From his earliest days as a writer, he was guided by a moral compass that never wavered."

Mann was born Abraham Goodman in Philadelphia in 1927, the son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant. He said he felt like an outsider growing up in a tough working class neighbourhood.

Telly Savalas as Kojak
Mann created the character of Kojak, played by Telly Savalas

After serving in the US Army he began writing TV drama scripts.

He became interested in the war crimes tribunal which tried Nazi leaders in Nuremberg in 1946 and, after scripting a TV programme on the subject, became determined to write his first film screenplay about the trials.

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

After receving the Oscar in 1962 he said: "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."

His other film credits included A Child Is Waiting, Ship of Fools and Report to the Commissioner.

Mann is survived by his wife and a son.

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