Joe Mantell

Joe Mantell was an American actor of Austrian-Jewish descent. His original last name was “Mantel”, but he added an additional l at the end. He was once nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor .

In 1915, Mantell was born in Brooklyn, New York City. His parents were immigrants from the region of Galicia in Eastern Europe. At the time of their immigration, Galicia was part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria (1772-1918), one of the crown-lands of the Austrian Empire.

Mantell started appearing in films as an uncredited extra c. 1949. His first credited role was that of Dexter Freeman in the adventure film “Barbary Pirate” (1949), which depicted the Barbary Wars (1801-1805, 1815).

Mantell first received critical attention for his role as Angie in the romantic drama “Marty” (1955). Angie is depicted as the best friend of protagonist Marty Piletti (played by Ernest Borgnine), but discourages Marty from pursuing marriage with his love interest Clara (played by Betsy Blair). For this role as an obstacle to love, Mantell received his only nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The award was instead won by rival actor Jack Lemmon (1925-2001).

Mantell continued playing minor and supporting roles in films. His film appearances included the film noir “Storm Center” (1956), the political drama “Beau James” (1957), the military-themed comedy “The Sad Sack” (1957), and the World War II-themed comedy-drama “Onionhead”.

Mantell was cast frequently in guest star roles in television. He received the starring role of gangster Jackie Rhoades in the episode of “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” (1960) of the anthology series “The Twilight Zone”, co-stared as Pole, the robot fighter Battling Maxo’s co-owner in the episode “Steel” (1963) of the same series. He played the failed assassin Giuseppe Zangara (1900-1933) in the two part episode “The Unhired Assassin” (1960) of the crime drama series “The Untouchables”.

Mantell had his first recurring role in television when playing Ernie Briggs in six episodes of the sitcom “Pete and Gladys” (1960-1962). He had another recurring role as private detective Albie Loos in four episodes of the detective series “Mannix” (1967-1975).

In 1974, Mantell had one of his most recognizable roles in the neo-noir “Chinatown” (1974), as the character Lawrence Walsh . Walsh is depicted as an associate of the private investigator J. J. “Jake” Gittes (played by Jack Nicholson), and plays a significant role in the film’s conclusion, Years later, Mantell returned to the role of Walsh in the sequel films “The Two Jakes” (1990). This happened to be Mantell’s last appearance in a film.

Mantell retired from acting in 1990, at the age of 75. He lived in retirement until his death in September 2010. He died in Tarzana, California. He was 94-years-old at the time of death, one of the oldest living actors.

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