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April 3, 2008

Obituaries

http://www.jewishjournal.com/obituaries/article/obituaries_20080404

Screenwriter Abby Mann. Photo by Mark Terrill/AP

Screenwriter Abby Mann. Photo by Mark Terrill/AP

Abby Mann (born Abraham Goodman), the Jewish screenwriter who won an Oscar for "Judgment at Nuremberg," has died at 80. On June 17, 2005, film producer and Journal arts columnist Tom Teicholz wrote a column about Mann called "Old Lessons Never Die (Abby Mann's "Judgment" in Long Beach)." The following is an excerpt from that article.

As Abby Mann said, when we met at his Los Angeles home to talk about a stage production of "Judgment at Nuremberg," "unfortunately, the play is very timely." It says as much about "Judgment at Nuremberg," based on Mann's 1961 film about the post World War II trial of Nazi-era judges, as it does about Mann.

Mann was born in 1927, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, and was raised in east Pittsburgh in a tough, predominantly Catholic working-class neighborhood surrounded by steel workers and their children who were also destined for the steel factories.

"Judgment at Nuremberg" first appeared on Playhouse 90, directed by George Roy Hill, and launched Mann's Hollywood career. The 1961 film version, directed by Stanley Kramer, received 11 Oscar nominations and won Oscars for Mann (screenplay) and Maximillian Schell as the defense attorney.

Since "Judgment," Mann has continued to write movies, films for television, miniseries and television series that have defied conventional wisdom and spoken out for those whom the larger political forces would seek to ignore. Among his works is the 1973 TV movie "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," which revealed how a young black man was coerced into confessing to a rape-murder he did not commit. Based on a true story, the real defendant was released after the program aired. But the program became famous for still another reason -- it launched a series based on the lead detective, named Kojak.

Mann has never shirked controversy, penning, "King" (which Mann also directed), which examined the possibility of a conspiracy to murder Martin Luther King; "Murderers among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story"; as well as the films "Report to the Comissioner," and "Love and War" about Holocaust survivor Jack Eisner. But perhaps one of the most controversial of Mann's works was "Indictment: The McMartin Case" (which he wrote with his wife Myra) for HBO -- about an Orange County couple charged with child abuse and the lack of evidence against them.

Still, of all his screenplays, the one that remains evergreen is "Judgment at Nuremberg," which asks questions such as: Is it right for the victors to sit in judgment of the vanquished? What is the individual's responsibility?

Mann recalled that the genesis of "Judgment at Nuremberg" occurred at a party in New York where he met an attorney named Abe Pomerantz, who was a government attorney at Nuremberg. Pomerantz said that they were having trouble getting judges of any stature to hear the cases. Mann had no idea of the extent of the trials in Nuremberg, or even that there were trials of doctors, judges and businessmen. But he was curious. Pomerantz suggested he meet with Telford Taylor, who had served as assistant counsel to lead prosecutor Robert Jackson during the initial Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leadership and then succeeded him after Jackson resigned the position in 1946.

Mann recalled that Taylor got him interested when he said, "I don't know whether this is too austere, but there was a trial of Judges. It was fascinating, American judges sitting in judgment of German judges."

Mann became so compelled that he left a $1000-a-week job to write the screenplay on a $500 advance.

In the film version, Burt Lancaster played "Janning," a German judge who appears to be of the highest intellect and integrity, who refuses to be lumped with the "party hacks" and who at court finally rises to make a statement that he was "worse than any of them because he knew what they were and went along with them."

But it is the power of Mann's drama that even Janning is unwilling to accept full responsibility. After being sentenced, he asks to meet with presiding judge Dan Haywood, played in the movie by Spencer Tracy, in his cell. Haywood tells Jannings "what you said in the courtroom -- it needed to be said."

Jannings hopes the judge understands that he had no idea that that Nazis actions were leading to the death chambers.

Haywood responds, in one of the most famous and chilling lines: "Herr Janning. It came to that the first time you sentenced to death a man you knew to be innocent."

In "Judgment," Mann explained, "Patriotism is the antagonist."

Although it would be wrong to compare any current government to that of the Nazis, by focusing on "the Justice trial," Mann does make us wonder what we would (or do) trade off or remain silent about in exchange for our freedom and our lives of comfort and security.

"Were we deaf, dumb and blind?" Janning asks in "Judgment."

Abby Mann, in everything he writes, asks: "Are we even paying attention?"



Rose Adelman died Feb. 20 at 82. She is survived by her daughters, Claire (Jeff) Cutler and Lola (Marvin) Shapiro; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Mount Sinai

Rose Bann died Feb. 23 at 86. She is survived by her husband, Sidney; children, Larry (Bonnie), Janice and Mark (Pat); seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Helen Berlin died Feb. 20 at 90. She is survived by her son, Dr. Michael. Malinow and Silverman

Dr. Robert Bernick died Feb. 19 at 69. He is survived by his wife, Joan; daughters, Elizabeth (Scott) Norton and Dr. Elena; son, Andrew; and grandsons, Zachary and Jess. Malinow and Silverman

Alan Blaustein died Feb. 20 at 61. He is survived by his cousin, Martine (Jacob) Dunkel; and friend, Joyce (Murray Harreschou) Rosenbaum. Mount Sinai

Thomas Bowen died Feb. 23 at 69. He is survived by his wife, Emma Bergman; and daughter, Jennifer Bergman. Mount Sinai Michael Bresler died Feb. 20 at 95. He is survived by his wife, Pola; daughter, Miriam (Moshe) Ozeri; son, Reuven (Phyllis); five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Mike Bryskier died Feb. 20 at 82. He is survived by his children, Martin Bryskier and Jeanette Freeman; four grandchildren; and cousin, Barbara Schubak.

Marvin Byron died Feb. 18 at 82. He is survived by his daughters, Cindy (Philip) Byron-Fields, Carol and Stephanie; son, Steve; grandchildren, Jessie and Ryan; and brother, Harvey (Sugar). Mount Sinai

Maynard Center died Feb. 20 at 80. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; and daughters, LuAnne and Linda Jean. Hillside

Sandy Cobe died Feb. 20 at 79. He is survived by his wife Sharyon Reis; daughters, Lori Cobe-Ross and Donna; and sister, Jean Gluckman. Hillside

Richard Cromer died Feb. 20 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Pam; sons, Burton, David, Michael and Thomas (Claudia); stepdaughters, Melissa Chiprin and Stephanie (Neil) Harrington; stepson, Jeffrey (Dilette) Chiprin; eight grandchildren; and sister, Barbara (Sanford) Kahn. Malinow and Silverman

Theodore "Ted" Elman died Feb. 21 at 95. He is survived by his wife, Lillian; daughter, Jeri (Ron) Sobel; grandson, Glen Sobel; and brother-in-law Eli (Eve) Catran. Mount Sinai

Judith Ann Eisenstadt died Feb. 22 at 69. She is survived by her sons, Paul, Steven and Jay; and three grandchildren. Groman

Alice "Lilly" Fallenbaum Erickson died Feb. 23 at 91. She is survived by her son, Richard; daughter, Ruth; stepchildren, Tricia, Arvid, Shawn, Steve and Scott Erickson; son-in-law, Zeese Papanikolas; grandchildren, Nina Fallenbaum and Tony Papanikolas; three stepgrandchildren; five nieces; and nephew. Hillside

Sam Fein died Feb. 20 at 94. He is survived by his son, Barry; daughter, Sheila; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Groman

Annabel Fond died Feb. 20 at 92. She is survived by her nephew, Gary Pravorne; relatives; and friends. Hillside

Robert Freedman died Feb. 18 at 87. He is survived by his sons, Alan and Steven; daughter, Gail (Steven) Sills; stepson, Paul Gold; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Sandra Mae Freedman died Feb. 20 at 65. She is survived by her daughters, Stefanee and Andrea; ex-husband, Marshall; brother, Morris Soltz; and half-sisters, Darlene and Michelle Soltz. Mount Sinai

Edith Heller died Feb. 19 at 82. She is survived by her son, Bruce; daughter, Marlene; and two grandchildren. Groman

Edythe Helzick died Feb. 21 at 93. She is survived by her daughter, Ellen Pardo. Malinow and Silverman

Abe Hoffenberg died Feb. 20 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Rhoda; daughters, Mellisa Donaldson and Robyn; son, Jay (Ellie); and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai

Adele Holden died Feb. 22 at 96. She is survived by her daughter, Gina (Joel) Rubin; son, Joel (Emma); and six grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman

Ralph Nadel died Feb. 21 at 90. He is survived by his daughters, Beth, Barbara and Anne; son, Stan; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Groman

Ida Orenstein died Feb. 22 at 105. She is survived by her son, Seymour (Helena). Mount Sinai

Elizaveta Osnas died Feb. 22 at 87. She is survived by her son, Iosif; daughter, Alla; and one grandchild. Groman

Alexander Poll died Feb. 21 at 84. He is survived by his wife, Amy; daughter, Vivienne Moody; son, Gabriel (Melinda); grandchildren, Adam and Allison; and sister-in-law, Adelle Weiss. Mount Sinai

Grace "Bebe" Rips died Feb. 20 at 79. She is survived by her sons, Ted (Karen) and Joseph (Kathleen); daughter, Debra; eight grandchildren; sister, Anna Slutzky; and brother, Mark (Mary) Novick. Mount Sinai

Erika Samuels died Feb. 19 at 42. She is survived by her fiancee, Douglas May; father, Sherwin; mother, Janice; brothers, David (Kris) and Robert; and sisters, Kriss (Rich) Bilodeau and Leslie (John Thomson). Mount Sinai

Joel Singer died Feb. 18 at 59. He is survived by his brother, Martin. Malinow and Silverman

Florence Solomon died Feb. 20 at 84. She is survived by her husband, Max. Malinow and Silverman

Etta Tamkin died Feb. 21 at 97. She is survived by her sons, Curtis (Priscilla), Dr. Douglas (Linda) and Jeffrey; six grandchildren; and sister, Rosalyn. Malinow and Silverman

Estelle Tepper died Feb. 22 at 87. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Harry; children, Barbara (Stan) Salzman and Steve Zagorin; six grandchildren; nine great -grandchildren; and brother, Julius Horowitz. Mount Sinai

Frances Walley died Feb. 22 at 99. She is survived by her son Morton (Roberta); relatives; and friends. Hillside

Sally Wolnerman died Feb. 19 at 96. She is survived by her daughters Fern Kahn and Miriam Enright; and four grandchildren. Sholom Chapels

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