many directors of television's "golden age," Delbert Mann came from
a theatrical background. While studying political science at Vanderbilt
University, Mann became involved with a Nashville community theater
group where he worked with Fred Coe, who went on to produce the
Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse. He received an M.F.A.
in Directing from Yale School of Drama and then worked as a director/producer
at the Town Theatre (Columbia, South Carolina) and as a stage manager
at the Wellesley Summer Theater. When he first went to New York,
Mann worked as a floor manager and assistant director for NBC.
1949, Mann began directing dramas for Philco-Goodyear Television
Playhouse, where he was one of a stable of directors that included
Vincent Donahue, Arthur Penn, and Gordon Duff. During the 1950s,
Mann also directed productions for Producers' Showcase, Omnibus,
Playwrights '56, Ford Star Jubilee, and Ford Startime.
Although he worked almost exclusively on anthology series, Mann
also directed live episodes of the first domestic situation comedy,
Mary Kay and Johnny.
Mann is perhaps most often identified with the Philco-Goodyear
Television Playhouse (and subsequent film) production of Paddy
Chayefsy's Marty, which has been thought by many of today's
critics to be one of the most outstanding original dramas produced
by Fred Coe and the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse.
Although it did not receive outstanding reviews when it first aired,
it was one of the first television plays to receive any major press
coverage and more than one line in a reviewer's column. When Mann
directed the film version of Marty two years later, he was awarded
the Oscar for Best Director, and the film won the Cannes Film Festival
and Oscars for Best Picture, Actor, and Screenplay. The film was
nominated but did not win Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Supporting
Actress, Cinematography, and Art Direction.
of Mann's works tackled social issues, such as the plight of the
elderly in Ernie Barger is Fifty. However, the director contends
that, at the time, the plays were not thought of in terms of their
social issues--they were stories about people and "just awfully
theatrical training was a tremendous influence on his television
work. Cameras are fairly static and actors are staged within the
frame. At Coe's direction, close-ups were used only to emphasize
something or if there was a dramatic reason for doing so. The static
camera is particularly effective in the Marty dance sequence,
which Mann filmed with one camera and no editing. Actors were carefully
choreographed to turn to the camera at the exact moment when they
needed to be seen. Combined with the crowded, relatively small set,
the static camera focused the audience's attention on the characters
and their sense of uneasiness in the situation. Chayefsky has credited
the success of The Bachelor Party to Mann's direction noting
that, through simple stage business and careful balancing of scenes,
Mann was able to illustrated the emptiness of life in the small
town and the protagonist's increasing depression.
of Mann's works are period pieces based on the director's own love
of history, which he tried to recreate accurately. But historical
context serves as background to the personal relationships in the
story. The Man Without a Country, produced during the height
of anti-Vietnam protests, is a patriotic story of love of country
and flag intended to stir a sense of nationalism during the Civil
War and, simultaneously, the intimate story of one man's oppression.
shifted to filmmaking in the 1960s but periodically returned to
television to pursue more personal, people-oriented stories in made-for-television
films. Productions such as David Copperfield and Jane
Eyre allowed him to, once again, tell stories of personal relationships
in an historical setting.
returned to his live television roots for the productions of All
The Way Home (1981) and Member of the Wedding (1982)
for NBC's Live Theater Series. These productions differed
from live television in the 1950s in that they were staged as a
theatrical production in a theater rather than a studio and were
filmed with a live audience in order to show their reaction to the
has been nominated for three Emmy awards for directing: Our Town
(1955, Producers' Showcase, 1955), Breaking Up
(ABC special, 1977), and All Quiet on the Western Front (CBS
MANN. Born in Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A., 30 January 1920. Educated
at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, B.A. 1941; Yale
University, New Haven, Connecticut, M.F.A. Married Ann Caroline
Gillespie, 1942; three sons and one daughter. Served as First Lieutenant
in U.S. Air Force during World War II: B-24 pilot and squadron intelligence
officer, 1944-45. Worked as director of Town Theater, Columbia,
South Carolina, 1947-49; stage manager, Wellesley Summer Theater,
1947-48; director, Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, 1949-55; began
film directing career with Marty, 1954; freelance film and television
director, since 1954. Honorary degree: L.L.D., Northland College,
Ashland, Wisconsin. Former member, board of governors, Academy of
Television Arts and Sciences; former co-chair, Tennessee Film, Tape
and Cinema Commission; former president, Directors Guild Educational
Benevolent Foundation, Cinema Circulus; former lecturer, Claremont
(California) McKenna College; board of trustees, Vanderbilt University,
since 1962. Member: Directors Guild of America (president, 1967-71).
Address: 401 South Burnside Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036,
Photo courtesy of Delbert Mann
Mary Kay and Johnny
1949 Lights Out
1949-55 Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
1950 The Little Show
1950 Waiting for the Break
1950 Masterpiece Theatre
1954-56, 1957, 1959 Omnibus
1956 Ford Star Jubilee
1956 Playwrights 56
1958 DuPont Show of the Month
1958-59 Playhouse 90
1959 Sunday Showcase (also producer)
1968 Saturday Adoption
1970 David Copperfield
1971 Jane Eyre
1972 She Waits (also producer)
1972 No Place to Run
1973 The Man without a Country
1974 The First Woman President (also producer)
1974 Joie (also producer)
1975 A Girl Named Sooner
1976 Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident
1977 Breaking Up
1977 Tell Me My Name
1978 Love's Dark Ride
Tom and Joann
1978 Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
1978 Home to Stay
1979 All Quiet on the Western Front
1979 Torn Between Two Lovers
1980 To Find My Son
1981 All the Way Home
1982 The Member of the Wedding
1983 The Gift of Love
1984 Love Leads the Way
1985 A Death in California
1986 The Last Days of Patton
1986 The Ted Kennedy Jr. Story
1987 April Morning (also co-producer)
1992 Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (also co-producer)
1993 Incident in a Small Town (also co-producer)
1994 Lily in Winter
1954; The Bachelor Party, 1956; Desire Under the Elms,
1957; Separate Tables, 1958; Middle of the Night,
1959; The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, 1960; The Outsider,
1960; Lover Come Back, 1961; That Touch of Mink, 1962;
A Gathering of Eagles, 1962; Dear Heart, 1963; Quick
Before It Melts (also producer), 1964; Mister Buddwing
(also producer), 1965; Fitzwilly, 1967; Kidnapped,
1972; Birch Interval, 1976; Night Crossing, 1982.
Wuthering Heights, New York City Center, 1959.
Quiet Place, 1956; Speaking of Murder, 1957; Zelda,
1969; The Glass Menagerie, 1973.
Richard, and David Manning White, editors. Electronic Drama:
Television Plays of the Sixties. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon
William. The American Television Drama: The Experimental Years.
University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1986.
Gorham, editor. The Live Television Generation of Hollywood Film
Directors: Interviews with Seven Directors. Jefferson, North
Carolina: McFarland, 1994.
Minor, Worthington. Worthington Minor (interviewed by Franklin
Schaffner). Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1985.
Nudd, Donna Marie. Jane Eyre and What Adaptors Have Done To Her.
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1989.
Tom. "When Prime Time Meant Live: NBC and Delbert Mann Revive a
Golden Age." Washington Post, 20 December 1982.
Ira, with foreward by Delbert Mann. Ira Skutch: I Remember Television:
A Memoir. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1989.
Gerald Edward. "Our Town" by Thorton Wilder: A Descriptive Study
of Its Production Modes. Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State
Susan. "For Delbert Mann, All the Problems of Live TV are Worth
It." New York Times, 19 December 1982.
Stemple, Tom. Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American
Television Writing. New York: Continuum, 1992.
Frank. Live Television: The Golden Age of 1946-1958 in New York.
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1990.
Wicking, Christopher, and Tise Vahimagi. The American Vein: Directors
and Directions in Television. New York: Dutton, 1979.
Max. The Golden Age of Television: Notes from the Survivors.
New York: Dell, 1977.
Paddy; Coe, Fred;
Golden Age of
Television Drama; Goodyear