Actor Joe Mantell, the man who uttered the famous last lines “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown,” in the 1974 pic died Sept. 29 in Los Angeles of pneumonia. He was 94.
The native New Yorker began his film career in 1949 as a newsboy in “Undercover Man.” In 1953, Mantell starred as Angie in a teleplay penned by Paddy Chayefsky called “Marty.” Mantell immortalized the Bronx-bachelor mantra, “So what do you want to do tonight?” Just two years later, Mantell was nominated for an Academy Award for supporting actor for the same role in the bigscreen version of “Marty.”
He went on to star in several roles over the next 20 years of his career including the literally two-faced protagonist of the 1960 “Twilight Zone” episode called “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room,” the traveling salesman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 “The Birds,” and Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown” as Lawrence Walsh, partner to private eye Jake Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson. Mantell reprised the role in his last film, “The Two Jakes,” in 1990. The “Chinatown” sequel was helmed by Nicholson.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary; two daughters and a son; plus two grandchildren.