Manings was active in WGA West
Comedy writer Allan Manings, who co-created “One Day at a Time” and was active with the Writers Guild of America, died May 12, of a heart attack in Beverly Hills. He was 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.
Manings co-created CBS’ “One Day at a Time,” based on his wife, actress Whitney Blake’s, personal experiences. Show starred starred Bonnie Franklin, MacKenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli and ran from 1975-84.
Born in Newark, N.J., Manings grew up on Staten Island. After serving in the Army in the Pacific during World War II, he joined fellow returning GIs to enroll as the first male students at Sarah Lawrence College.
Manings wrote episodes of many classic TV shows in the 1950s, with writing and/or co-writing credits that include “Leave It to Beaver,” “Petticoat Junction,” “McHale’s Navy” and “The Lucy Show.” But 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 shared an Emmy for writing achievement “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in 1968. He co-wrote shows such as “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 sitcom “Good Times.”
“He was a glorious man and a great comedy writer,” Lear said. The two first met while working on “Good Times” and then went on to work on shows such as “One Day at a Time.”
“It was his idea to do a show on a single woman at a time when you didn’t have such things on television,” he said.
A member of the WGAW since 1961, Manings was 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 VP from 1975-77. He served as a member of the WGAW’s board from 1977-79; 1980-82; and 1985-91, and finally 1991-92. 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 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.”
His most recent play, “Goodbye Louie … Hello,” a dramedy exploring the impact of Hollywood’s Blacklist, is to be produced this fall by Theatre West in L.A.
Manings’ wife predeceased him in 2002. Besides Baxter, survivors include two stepsons, nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a sister.
Donations may be be made in his name to the Writers Guild Foundation, for the Blacklist Archives Project, at http://www.wgfoundation.org.