Emeritus Trustee Delbert Mann dies in California

Delbert Mann, who directed scores of Hollywood films and television productions including the winner of the 1955 Academy Award for best picture Marty, died Sunday in Los Angeles. The 1941 Vanderbilt graduate and 1999 winner of the Distinguished Alumnus Award was an Emeritus Trustee at his alma mater.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church in California.

Mann worked with a who’s who of stars during his long career including Humphrey Bogart, Grace Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Walter Matthau and George C. Scott.

In The Papers of Delbert Mann, published by Vanderbilt in 1993, actor Jack Lemmon praised Mann as “a leader that the actor trusted.”

“Overall, Del really has the most important qualities one needs to be an outstanding director – intelligence, taste, compassion for and understanding of actors, the willingness to take chances, and above all he has the talent.”

Mann directed Lemmon when he played John Wilkes Booth in a 1956 production of The Day Lincoln was Shot. He directed many such shows in the early days of television and eventually returned to the medium in the 1970s and ‘80s with high-profile films including The Man Without a Country, David Copperfield, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Last Days of Patton and Heidi.

Mann’s work unintentionally sparked a furor among football fans in 1968 when NBC declined to show the closing minutes of a dramatic New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game so it could start its scheduled airing of Heidi.

Mann moved with his family to Nashville when he was 11, and he enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1937. He majored in political science with minors in sociology and economics, was elected president of the student council and served as co-managing editor of the Hustler with his future wife Ann Caroline Gillespie.

“I am grateful for the liberal and non-career-oriented education I received at Vanderbilt University,” Mann said in The Papers of Delbert Mann. “My college experiences have been of tremendous value to me as a director.”

Mann established and raised money for the Fred Coe Artist-in-Residence-in-Theatre program at Vanderbilt and returned to campus in 1993 to direct the play The Memoirs of Abraham Lincoln at Sarratt Cinema. He donated his papers to the Jean and Alexander Heard Library, chaired the Buildings and Grounds Committee on the Board of Trust from 1976 to 1985 and was active raising money for Vanderbilt as Southern California co-chairman of a $55 million campaign in the late 1960s, along with this wife.

Mann was born in Lawrence, Kan., and served as a bomber pilot in World War II following his Vanderbilt experience. He attended the Yale School of Drama before launching his directing career in community theatre in Columbia, S.C.

Wife Ann Caroline Mann died in 2001. He is survived by sons David, Fred and Steven Mann. Daughter Susan died in 1976.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Fred Coe Visiting Professorship at Vanderbilt.

Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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