Oscar-winning "Nuremberg" writer dies in L.A

Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:58am EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Abby Mann, who won an Oscar for writing the 1961 drama "Judgment at Nuremberg" and devoted his career to exposing failings in the U.S. criminal justice system, has died, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site on Thursday.

He died of heart failure in Beverly Hills on Tuesday at age 80.

Mann also wrote such fact-based TV movies as 1973's "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," which led to the release of the accused murderer at the center of the story; 1989's "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story," about the tireless Nazi hunter; and 1995's "Indictment: The McMartin Trial," about a web of false child-molestation allegations.

"A writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives," Mann said when he accepted his Oscar for "Judgment at Nuremberg," the Stanley Kramer film that dramatized one of the many post-war trials of top Nazis.

Born Abraham Goodman in Philadelphia in 1927, Mann began his professional writing career in the early days of live television in the 1950s.

He won an Emmy for "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," which starred Telly Savalas as police detective Theo Kojak. The bald, lollipop-sucking character was spun off into a hit TV series created by Mann.

He was inspired to write the script after becoming convinced about the innocence of a young black man who said he was coerced into confessing to the murders of two women. After the film aired, he was freed, the Times said.

He also won Emmys for co-writing "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story," and as an executive producer of "Indictment: The McMartin Trial," which was named best TV movie.

Mann is survived by his wife Myra, with whom he wrote "The McMartin Trial," and a son.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Eric Beech)