‘Laugh-In’ Head Writer Alan Manings Dies

Emmy-winning writer co-created “One Day at a Time” with his wife, wrote for numerous classic comedies

Last Updated: May 17, 2010 @ 1:33 PM

Emmy-winning television comedy writer Allan Manings, who co-created "One Day at a Time," died May 12 of a heart attack in Beverly Hills. The former VP of the Writers Guild of America, West, and member of its board of directors was 86.

According to his stepdaughter, actress Meredith Baxter, Manings died after going into cardiac arrest at his oncologist’s office; he had recently undergone surgery for esophageal cancer.

Allan ManingsBorn March 28, 1924, in Newark, N.J., Manings grew up on Staten Island. He served in the Pacific with the Army during World War II, and after the war was among the first male students to attend Sarah Lawrence College.

Manings wrote episodes of many classic TV shows, with writing and/or co-writing credits on "Leave It to Beaver," "Petticoat Junction," "McHale’s Navy" and "The Lucy Show."

Manings became head writer on "Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In" and earned four Emmy nominations. He shared the 1968 Emmy for outstanding writing achievement in a musical or variety program for the show.

In the early ’70s, Manings was co-writer of shows including "The Lily Tomlin Show" and "It’s a Wacky World."

He joined Norman Lear’s production team as a writer and executive producer on sitcom "Good Times."

With his wife, actress Whitney Blake, Manings co-created CBS’ "One Day at a Time" for Lear’s production company. The hit sitcom, starring Bonnie Franklin, MacKenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, was drawn from his wife’s experiences and family memories.

Manings joined the WGAW in 1961 and was actively involved with the guild for several decades. He was a member of the WGAW Council (renamed the board of directors in 1976) from 1973-75 and WGAW vice president from 1975-77. He also was a board member from 1977-79; 1980-82; and 1985-1991, before serving one final year from 1991-92. He served on the advisory board of the WGAW’s magazine as well as on more than 20 guild committees.

In 1997, he received the WGAW’s Morgan Cox Award for longtime service to the guild, presented to members “whose vital ideas, continuing efforts and personal sacrifice best exemplify the ideal of service to the guild.”

Manings continued to write, with his most recent play, "Goodbye Louie … Hello," a dramedy exploring the impact of Hollywood’s blacklist, due to be produced this fall by Theatre West in Los Angeles. Manings himself was forced to move to Canada in order to work during the McCarthy-era blacklist.  

In addition to Baxter, he is survived by two stepsons, Richard and Brian Baxter; his sister, Muriel Manings; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

The family requests, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Manings’ name to the Writers Guild Foundation for the Blacklist Archives Project via www.wgfoundation.org.