Loring Mandel, Screenwriter and 'Advise and Consent' Playwright, Dies at 91

Loring Mandel - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Alan Mandel

He won two Emmys and a Peabody and penned scripts for the films 'Countdown,' 'Promises in the Dark' and 'The Little Drummer Girl.'

Loring Mandel, a two-time Emmy Award recipient and playwright who adapted a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for the Broadway version of the gripping political drama Advise and Consent, has died. He was 91.

Mandel died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Lenox, Massachusetts, his son Alan Mandel told The Hollywood Reporter.

A drama specialist, the Chicago native also wrote the screenplays for Countdown (1967), an astronaut movie that starred James Caan and Robert Duvall; the cancer tale Promises in the Dark (1979), starring Marsha Mason; and the Mossad thriller The Little Drummer Girl (1984), starring Diane Keaton.

Mandel earned five Emmy nominations during his career, winning twice: in 1968 for his work on an installment of CBS Playhouse and in 2001 for penning the BBC-HBO telefilm Conspiracy. For the latter, which starred Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci and examined how the Nazis dealt with "final solution of the Jewish question" during World War II, he received Peabody and BAFTA awards as well.

Mandel adapted Allen Drury's acclaimed 1959 novel Advise and Consent for a play that opened on Broadway in November 1960. Revolving around the contentious approval of a Secretary of State nominee, it ran for 212 performances and starred Ed Begley, Henry Jones, Kevin McCarthy and Barnard Hughes.

Columbia Pictures' 1962 big-screen version, directed by Otto Preminger, was adapted by Wendell Mayes and featured turns by Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Don Murray and Walter Pidgeon.

Mandel also served as president of the WGA East in the 1970s, and he was given the guild's Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime contributions to television in 2004.

The son of a doctor, Mandel was born on May 5, 1928, in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1949 and saw duty in the Korean War, then landed a job writing for such CBS anthology programs as Studio One in HollywoodThe Seven Lively Arts and Playhouse 90

In 1959, his "Project Immortality" script for director Fielder Cook and Playhouse 90 got him his first Emmy nom.

Mandel also was head writer on the CBS soap opera Love of Life in 1971-72, and he received another Emmy nom in 1975 for writing an installment of the CBS miniseries The Lives of Benjamin Franklin.

His papers, scripts, articles and correspondence are housed at the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research.

"I've been sort of like a loner in this business my whole life," Mandel said in a 2010 chat for the website The Oral History of Television: The Interviews. "I've always found that my own level of interest is what drew me to something. I don't search for things in a given category."

Survivors include his wife, Dorothy, whom he married in 1950; his sister, Charlotte; his sons, Joshua and Alan, and their respective wives, Laura and Ellen; and his granddaughters, Hannah, Eliza and Natalie.

Contributions in his name may be made to HospiceCare in the Berkshires.