Sure the letters from the “names” in the biz were loud and clear in the admiration and thanks to the late Abby Mann. They were stacked high on the pulpit where rabbi David Baron conducted the moving service Sunday morning at Hillside Memorial Park. But none were (needed to be) read after the first speaker. She was Abby’s 90 year-old sister Dr.Esther Goodman Sack.
While most of the talk about Abby in the past week was about his better-known works, like, of course, “Judgment at Nuremberg,” she spoke lovingly about her brother who took on the challenge of writing “A Child Is Waiting” about mentally-challenged children. President Kennedy was so touched — the family has a “mentally-challenged” member — he invited Abby to the White House, invited him to be his “ghost writer” to promote programs for the “mentally challenged.” Abby’s sister told him not to be “a ghost” but to continue his career and writing his other messages. Although Abby didn’t join Kennedy, the Kennedy family programs for the menbtally and physically challenged began — and grows stronger each year.
Another forceful speaker testifying to Abby’s powerful — and right writings was Jimmy Woods. Despite professional advice not to take on the unpopular challenging role, Woods starred in “The Indictment:The McMartin Trial.” He even stood up for Abby vs. the D.A.s office years later. Woods was as powerful in his defense of Abby’s legal stance in “The McMartin Trial” as though he was a player in Mann’s “Judgment at Nuremberg.” It was a remarkable tribute to Mann by Woods at Sunday’s service. Others paying respects included Karen Kramer, whose husband Stanley had directed-produced three of Mann’s screenplays: “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “A Child is Waiting” and “Ship Of Fools.”
Abby’s longtime, non-showbiz friend Hal Taines, son Aaron Cohen and friend Jed Abrams also spoke. I was privileged to read recollections by Myra Mann, Abby’s loving wife of 25 years who will continue to complete his autobiography,