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Oscar-Winning Writer Abby Mann of 'Judgment at Nuremberg' Dead at 80

Abby Mann, writer of socially conscious scripts for movies and television and winner of the 1961 Academy Award for adapted screenplay for "Judgment at Nuremberg," has died at 80.

Writers Guild of America spokesman Gregg Mitchell said Mann died Tuesday. The cause of death was not given.

Mann also won multiple Emmys, including one in 1973 for "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," which created a maverick New York police detective named Theo Kojak. The film, starring Telly Savalas, was spun off into the long-running TV series "Kojak."

In a career spanning more than 50 years as a writer and producer, Mann returned repeatedly to morally conscious themes, doing films for television on such subjects as Martin Luther King Jr., human rights advocate Simon Weisenthal and Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.

"Abby was brought along by great producers like Herbert Brodkin, but his passion was his own. From his earliest days as a writer, he was guided by a moral compass that never wavered," said Del Reisman, former Writers Guild of America, West, president and a longtime friend.

Mann was a struggling TV writer in the 1950s when he became fixated on the postwar Nuremberg trials that brought to justice the top surviving leaders of the Nazi regime. His "Judgment at Nuremberg" had become a successful drama on television, and against all advice, he was determined to convert it into his first movie script.

"A lot of people didn't want it done," he commented in a 1994 interview. "People wanted to sweep the issue under the rug."

Mann persisted, and producer-director Stanley Kramer made the film with a cast that included Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift and Maximilian Schell. "Judgment at Nuremberg" was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won Oscars for Schell and Mann. (Widmark, who played a U.S. prosecutor, died Monday at 93.)

"I believe that a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives, not only to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world," Mann said when he accepted his Oscar.