Biography

New York-based stage actor Joe Mantell made his 1949 film debut as a newsboy in Undercover Man. Four years later, Mantell rose to prominence by way of a catchphrase: as Angie in the original 1953 TV production of Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, the actor immortalized the Bronx-bachelor mantra "So waddya wanna do tonight, Marty?" That question was still on his lips when he repeated the role in the 1955 film version of Marty, earning an Academy Award nomination in the process. He went on to more conventional film and TV assignments, playing a surrogate Dean Martin to Jerry Lewis in The Sad Sack (1957) and a traditional next door neighbor on the weekly sitcom Pete and Gladys (1961). He showed up in several filmed TV anthologies of the 1950s and 1960s, most memorably as the literally two-faced protagonist in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room. Hitchcock addicts will remember Mantell as the Travelling Salesman in the 1963 feature film The Birds. The best of Joe Mantell's latter-day film roles was Lawrence Walsh, partner and confidante to private eye Jake Gittes ($ack Nicholson) in Chinatown; it was Walsh who uttered the film's cryptic closing line "C'mon, Jake. It's....Chinatown." Joe Mantell repeated his Lawrence Walsh characterization in the 1990 Chinatown sequel The Two Jakes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi