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Actor Joe Mantell, of 'Marty' and 'Chinatown,' dies at 94

Joe Mantell, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1955 film "Marty" and delivered one of film's most famous lines in "Chinatown," has died, his family said. He was 94.

Mantell died Wednesday of pneumonia at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, said his daughter, Cathy.

Mantell received an Academy Award nomination in 1956 for his performance as Angie, the best friend of Ernest Borgnine in "Marty." His oft-repeated line to his sad-sack friend — "Well, what do you feel like doin' tonight?" — was one of the film's most memorable lines.

In 1974's "Chinatown," in which he played the partner of Jack Nicholson's detective character, Jack Gittes, Mantell spoke the film's famous last line: "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

Mantell was born Dec. 21, 1915, in New York and made his film debut in "Undercover Man" in 1949.

In addition to his daughter, Mantell is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Jeanne; son, Robert; and two grandchildren. Services will be private.

-- Keith Thursby

 
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Great closing line in a truly memorable film. Despite some impressive performances and a compelling screenplay, I think Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack steals the film. Dangerous, moody, chilling, sexy. Just great, great work.

My memories of Joe Mantell are from the movie Marty and its frequent showings on television. Mantell played Angie the best friend of Marty. They were two aging lonely bachelors who each evening, and sometimes more often, would have a conversation where one asks the other what he wants to do. The reply routinely would be, I don't know, what do you want to do? The dialogue worked its' way into the American idiom and became the fodder for several generations of stand-up comedians.

And then there was this barroom conversation with Marty, Angie and a few friends present. Spurred by their mutual admiration for writer Mickey Spillane and his hard boiled detective hero who had a way with alluring women, one of the group posits the theory that the optimal situation for a man would be to marry a younger woman and then spend about a dozen years training her, so she would be perfect for him. The man adds, in that way when the man reaches 40 or so, the woman would still be a 'real pretty doll' of about 21. Another chimes in that for such a plan to work one would have to marry a girl when she was only 9. The other man then replies, "You know you're right. I never thought of that."

one of the most underrated character actors of our time. rip.

Re: michael g.

Agree with you 100% on Goldsmith's incredible soundtrack, I pop the CD in the car at least once a month.

BTW Bernard Herrman's 'Vertigo' isn't too shabby either.

I have very vivid memories of Joe Mantell's performance in a two-part episode of "The Untouchables" from circa 1963 where he played the real-life assassin Giuseppe Zangara, who tried to kill FDR in February of 1933 in Miami, Florida, but missed his target and killed the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, who was on a dais with FDR at the time. Just wondedrful work by Mantell and I followed his career for many years thereafter. I'm glad he had a long, successful life.

Also, regarding Mr. Mantell: I believe he did an incredible episode on "The Twilight Zone" as a cowardly man trapped in a hotel room who is confronted by his "other-half" in the mirror. This was a very memorable performance with a terrific script. We keep losing all the old pros in this business being replaced by little boys posing as actors... Rest In Peace, Joe.


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