Emmy-Winning Comedy Writer and One Day at a Time Co-Creator Allan Manings Dies at 86
LOS ANGELES -- Emmy-winning television comedy writer Allan Manings, a former Writers Guild of America, West Vice President and WGAW Board of Directors member, died on Wednesday, May 12, of a heart attack in Beverly Hills at the age of 86.
Manings died after going into cardiac arrest at his oncologist’s office, according to his stepdaughter, actress Meredith Baxter. He had recently undergone surgery for esophageal cancer.
Born March 28, 1924, in Newark, N.J., Manings grew up on Staten Island. After serving in the Army in the Pacific during World War II, he later joined fellow returning GIs to enroll as the first male students at Sarah Lawrence College.
Launching his writing career in the ’50s, Manings penned episodes of many classic TV shows, with writing and/or co-writing credits that include Leave It to Beaver, Petticoat Junction, McHale’s Navy, and The Lucy Show.
A four-time Emmy nominee as head writer on ‘60s comedy hit series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Manings shared a 1968 Emmy for outstanding writing achievement in a musical or variety program. During the early ’70s, Manings’ co-writing credits included The Lily Tomlin Show and It’s A Wacky World, later segueing into Norman Lear’s production team as both a writer and executive producer on the popular urban sitcom Good Times, starring Esther Rolle and Jimmie Walker.
Drawing from his wife’s personal experience and family memories, Manings and his wife, actress Whitney Blake, co-created One Day at a Time for Lear’s production company. The long running hit CBS sitcom, which aired from 1975-1984, starred Bonnie Franklin, MacKenzie Phillips, and Valerie Bertinelli.
A member of the WGAW since 1961, Manings was an active presence involved with the Guild for several decades. He was a member of the WGAW Council (renamed the Board of Directors in 1976) from 1973-1975, and WGAW Vice President from 1975-1977. He continued to serve as a member of the WGAW’s Board from 1977-79; 1980-82; and 1985-1991, before serving one final year from 1991-1992. Manings also 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 prestigious 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.”
Continuing to write in his later years, Manings’ most recent play, Goodbye Louie…Hello, a dramedy exploring the impact of Hollywood’s Blacklist, is set to be produced this fall by Theatre West in L.A.
During the McCarthy era, Manings found it necessary to leave the country. He moved to Canada, where he could find work. The impact of that experience had a profound effect upon his writing throughout his career. Manings will be remembered as an extremely political and socially conscious person who strove to express his views through his written work.
In addition to Baxter, he is survived by two stepsons, Richard and Brian Baxter; his sister, Muriel Manings; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. (Manings’ wife died in 2002.)
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in Allan’s name to the Writers Guild Foundation, for the Blacklist Archives Project, at www.wgfoundation.org.
A memorial service is pending at press time.