Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz died Saturday in his Los Angeles home following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 68.
The son of "All About Eve" director Joseph Mankiewicz, he was best known for having written two James Bond films, "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Live and Let Die," as well as the first two "Superman" movies and the big screen adaptation of "Dragnet," which he also directed.
"Making `Superman' was only possible because when Tom came in. He brought his sense of humor and brought those characters to life," the film's director Richard Donner said in a statement Monday. "A lot of people in this town have `the gift of gab.' Tom's was unique; there was always a true emotional center."
Mankiewicz's role in the Man of Steel movies extended beyond the page. Donner brought him on board as a "creative consultant," a title that earned the wrath of the Writer's Guild of America and led to a legal battle.
But Mankiewicz prevailed and went on to become a prolific film "fixer," working uncredited on numerous 1980s projects such as "Gremlins," "Goonies," "War Games" and "Legal Eagles."
Besides his film credits, Mankiewicz was also instrumental in the creation of hit 1970s TV series "Hart to Hart," writing and directing the pilot and staying on board the series' run as a "creative consultant."
Mankiewicz grew up in showbiz. Aside from his father, who also directed "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" and the Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor version of "Cleopatra," his uncle Herman co-wrote "Citizen Kane." Before embarking on his professional writing career, he attended the Yale School of Drama. His cousin Ben Mankiewicz hosts Turner Classic Movie.
Survivors include his brother Christopher, and sister, Alexandra. An official cause of death was not immediately released.