Entertainment journalist Roderick Mann dies

Befriended Cary Grant, Richard Burton during career

Roderick Mann, an internationally respected journalist and author who wrote about show business for more than 40 years in London and Hollywood, died Sept. 17 in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Mann's wife, Anastasia Kostoff Mann, said he had been battling dementia and Alzheimer's disease for the past 14 months.

As the entertainment feature writer at London's Sunday Express from the 1950s through the 1980s, Mann's interviews with motion picture and stage luminaries were not only widely read and syndicated throughout the world, they often resulted in lifelong friendships with famed actors including Cary Grant, David Niven and Richard Burton.

He was closest to Grant, whom Mann thought of as an older brother, while Niven credited him as the impetus to write his autobiography. Mann was the confidant of his superstar friends and noted for never betraying their trust. Other actor friends included Alexandra Bastedo, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and Anthony Hopkins.

In 1978, Mann moved from London and joined the Los Angeles Times, becoming a columnist for the paper's Calendar section while continuing to write for the Express Group in London. His columns -- from London and Los Angeles -- were syndicated around the world, and he remained at the Times until his retirement in 1988.

In addition to his entertainment writing, he went to Vietnam to chronicle the closing days of the war and did a post-retirement piece on an encounter with a gorilla in Rwanda in 1988.

Mann wrote the teleplay for one episode of the ABC series "Hart to Hart" and did the adapted screenplay for a 1992 film, "The Sheltering Desert." He was the author of four novels and had recently completed a fifth. His third novel, "Foreign Body," published in 1973, was made into a 1986 film directed by his longtime friend Ronald Neame.

After serving as a fighter pilot in World War II, Mann began his journalism career in his native Birmingham, England. He ultimately moved to London, where he worked for Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, and as foreign manager for the London Times. He recalled one of his early assignments from Fleming was to find the best recipe for scrambled eggs. After interviewing the most famous cordon-bleu chefs in Europe, he determined the secret was using real heavy cream and low heat to make the perfect dish.

Mann's ability to maintain the confidences of his subjects while still entertaining his readers won him high regard from his peers. His longtime colleague on the Express, Peter Evans, biographer of Aristotle Onassis and chronicler of London in the 1960s, said, "I always admired Roddy. He wrote with genuine style and sly wit." Mann said the core of his profession was "to listen."

In addition to Anastasia, his wife of 25 years, Mann is survived by his cousins Antoinette Iacobucci and Melanie Vance and his beloved pets, Punch, Cassie, Coco and April.
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