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Lawrence, Kansas
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Lawrence, Kansas

The 1955 romantic drama film “Marty” won Delbert Martin Mann, Jr., an American film and television filmmaker, the “Academy Award for Best Director.” He ‘helped bring TV techniques to the cinema business,’ according to some. He began his directing career at the “Town Theatre” in Columbia, South Carolina, before switching to television and working as an assistant director and stage manager for the “National Broadcasting Company” (or “NBC”). The Philco Television Playhouse, an American television anthology series that was broadcast live, soon appointed him as an alternate director. Then he helped to direct more than 100 live TV dramas. He directed several TV movies, including “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “David Copperfield,” “Heidi,” and “Jane Eyre.” He made a number of outstanding movies over his nearly three decades as a big-screen movie director. His significant films on the big screen include, among others, “The Bachelor Party,” “Night Crossing,” “A Gathering of Eagles,” “The Outsider,” “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” “Middle of the Night,” and “Dear Heart.” From 1967 to 1971, he presided over the “Directors Guild of America,” and in 1997, the Guild gave him the “Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award.” Later in 2002, the Guild awarded him Honorary Life Membership.

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Early Childhood & Life

His parents, Delbert Mann, Sr., and Ora Mann welcomed him into the world on January 30, 1920, in Lawrence, Kansas. His father had been a sociology professor at the “University of Kansas” at the time. Ora held a position as a teacher.

His family moved to Pennsylvania in 1926, then to Chicago, and finally settled in Nashville in 1931, where his father worked as a sociology instructor at the “Scarritt College for Christian Workers.”

He first met Fred Coe at the Nashville Community Playhouse when he was a senior at Nashville, Tennessee’s “Hume-Fogg High School,” where he served as the theater club’s director. Coe, who went on to become a TV director and producer, mentored Mann and had a significant impact on Mann’s career.

Mann studied at “Vanderbilt University” in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated in 1941 with a degree in political science.
He joined the Army Air Corps at the start of the “Second World War,” where he finally flew B-24 bombers. Later, he was appointed an intelligence officer with the 8th Air Force stationed in England.
He enrolled in the Yale School of Drama after the war in New Haven, Connecticut, where he earned a master of fine arts in directing.

Delbert Mann’s Career

From 1947 to 1949, he was an active member of the Columbia, South Carolina, community playhouse known as “Town Theatre” as its director.
He took up Coe’s invitation and joined the TV network in 1949 in New York as an assistant director and stage manager. Coe was the network’s producer at the time.

After a short period of time, he was given the chance to serve as an alternate director for the live anthology drama series “The Philco Television Playhouse.” He was the director of a number of series dramas.
He directed more than 100 live TV plays up to 1955. He contributed to such programs as “NBC Repertory Theatre” (1949), “Playwrights ’56” (1955), and “Ford Star Jubilee” (1955).

A special note should be made to the Mann-directed 1953 Paddy Chayefsky television play “Marty.” Produced by Coe, the teleplay debuted live on May 24, 1953, on “The Philco Television Playhouse,” with Rod Steiger playing the lead. Later, Mann and Chayefsky translated this unusual cultural phenomenon into a full film, which was released in 1955.

The storied Hollywood film earned praise from critics and became the first massive hit of independent film. It won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Best Director Oscar for Mann.

However, he gained notoriety in the cultural sphere in 1955 as the director of “Our Town,” the first and only musical television adaptation of the eponymous three-act play by renowned American playwright Thornton Wilder, which had its world premiere at Princeton, New Jersey’s “McCarter Theatre” in 1938. Mann received a nomination for Best Director for the television adaption that was showcased in one of the “Producers’ Showcase” programs.

His second big-screen production was “The Bachelor Party,” which was released in 1957 and was based on Paddy Chayefsky’s 1953 teleplay of the same name.

His next picture under his direction, “Desire Under the Elms,” was released on March 12th, 1958. Sophia Loren played the title role in the movie, which was based on Eugene O’Neill’s tragic 1924 play of the same name. It was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival that year and received nominations for Best Black and White Cinematography at both the Laurel Awards and the Oscars.

He also directed the drama movie “Separate Tables,” which came out on December 18, 1958. Terence Rattigan’s two one-act dramas served as the basis for the adaptation. A total of 7 “Academy Awards” were nominated for the movie, including Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Black and White), Best Dramatic or Comedy Score, Best Writing,

Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor. Hiller received the Best Supporting Actress honor while Niven was named the Best Actor.

After a few movies, he started directing “The Outsider,” a biography that was released in December 1961. Ira Hayes, a Native American, served in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) during the Second World War and was one of the Marines who hoisted the flag on Iwo Jima. His tale was told in the movie. Tony Curtis portrayed the part.

His ability to deliver comedy with comparable élan was demonstrated in movies like “Fitzwilly” (1967), “That Touch of Mink,” and “Lover Come Back” (1961).
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960), A Gathering of Eagles (1963), Dear Heart (1964), Kidnapped (1971), Birch Interval (1976), and Night Crossing were a few of his other well-known movies (1982).

Mann produced a variety of TV movies between the late 1960s and the next 25 years, including “Heidi,” “David Copperfield,” “The Man Without a Country,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story,” “The Last Days of Patton,” and “Lily in Winter” (1994).

Personal Legacy & Life

In 1942, he wed Ann Caroline Gillespie, whom he had met while attending “Vanderbilt University” for his graduation.
Four children were born to the couple: Susan, Steven, Fred, and David. Their daughter Susan lost her life in a vehicle crash in 1976.

Ann passed away on October 10, 2001, as a result of Alzheimer’s.
On November 11, 2007, in the “Cedars-Sinai Medical Center” in Los Angeles, California, United States, Mann passed away from pneumonia. He was 87 years old.

Estimated Net Worth

Delbert is one of the wealthiest and most well-liked directors. Our study of Delbert Mann’s net worth from sources like Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider indicates that it is about $1.5 million.