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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 87, Number 4 (May 1986)

Mandel, Loring
It hasn't been boring for Loring,   pp. 13-15


Page 13


It Hasn't Been Boring for Loring
Getting up there and staying there.
    By LORING MANDEL '49
In 1955, six years after graduation,
Mandel had his first script on "Studio
One," a submarine drama called Shake-
down Cruise.
Flashback
n the 1950s, almost all TV drama
  was done live, and it made exciting
and outrageous demands on every-
one involved. No retakes; if some-
one blew a line, if a cameraman
zoomed in on a bowl of apples
instead of on an actor, the flub went
out to 34.6-million Nielsen-tallied
households. Each "room" we saw,
each "street," each "front porch"
(there seemed to be lots of conversa-
tions on porches in those shows) was
its own modest set. These were con-
structed in a studio about the size of
a high school gym and clustered so
the actors could get from one to
another in seconds if they had to.
   There are those who would bet
you that the real stars of the era were
the playwrights. These weren't
sitcoms they were writing-Lucy
doing shtik or Bill Cosby raising a
family on one-liners. These were
plays. With character development
and crises and epiphanies. And the
writer had precisely fifty-four min-
utes to do it powerfully. (Ibsen
would have starved.) So this much of
the world really was a stage, and
every broadcast of "Studio One" or
"Kraft Playhouse" or the "U.S. Steel
Hour" was opening night.
   We weren't long into the decade
before the public began to watch for
certain writers. They gave us com-
pelling plots and intelligent dia-
logue, they had taste and wit. They
convinced us they felt deeply. All
this plus the ability to get a character
off the screen long enough for a cos-
tume change without destroying the
mood. There was Paddy Chayefski.
Rod Serling before he sailed off to
the zone. Reginald Rose. By mid-
decade, right up there with them was
Loring Mandel '49. Loring got there
fast, once he set his mind to it. By
1955 he was writing for "Studio One,"
in the next year he had five scripts
produced on networks, and was just
getting warmed up. In '59 his Pro-
ject Immortality won a Sylvania
Award and an Emmy nomination
for the best drama.
   He did not go off the air when
the live-drama anthologies did. His
biography lists important works
throughout the '60s and '70s. All
individual dramas, no series. In
1967 he won an Emmy for Do Not
Go Gentle Into That Good Night on
"CBS Playhouse," and was nominated
again a decade later for Breaking Up
on the ABC Movie of the Week.
Some of his other credits during re-
cent years are Generations and Par-
ticular Men for PBS; Crossing Fox
River (Sandburg's Lincoln) on NBC.
In 1960 he added Broadway to his
scope with Advise and Consent from
Allen Drury's novel. Then movies,
with Countdown in '68; Promises in
the Dark in '78 and John LeCarr6's
The Little Drummer Girl in 1984.
As you read this, he's completed a
miniseries for CBS about journalists
Edgar and Helen Snow.
   Loring is married to Dotty Bern-
 stein '49, whom he met when he was
 a waiter at Phi Sigma Sigma, her
 sorority house. They live in Halesite,
 New York. They have two grown
 sons, one of whom, Josh, graduated
 from here in '81.
   We asked Loring to tell us a little
 about his memories of the campus,
 but more about getting started and
 moving up in those stimulating early
 years of TV.                T.M
MAY/JUNE 1986 / 13
7.,
6
Invited by your intrepid editor to look
     back upon the early days of television,
     to give some account of the begin-
     nings of my thirty-five-year imposture
as an adult careerist in the dramatic arts, I
wonder what has become of objective
journalism. But, with an obliging good will
I noticeably lacked as a student, the raw
truth-with apologies in advance for the
relentless first-person singular-is as fol-
lows.
   I came into the University an energetic,
solipsistic loner with vague ambitions for
an acting career and a lifelong habit as a
writer. I chose my course of study to give
myself the greatest freedom. I wanted no
math, I wanted no foreign languages, I
wanted to roam the arts and sciences as
broadly as possible. Ancient History, Geol-
ogy, Psychology, Anthropology, plucking
from the pages of the syllabus whatever
tripped my eye. I played trumpet in the
Regimental Band, the french horn in the
Marching Band, and in my first semester I
was involved-in one capacity or
another-in eleven theater productions. In
my second semester I was on probation.
   In eight semesters at Wisconsin I failed
only once to take a writing course. I was
writing so abundantly, so continuously for
the pleasure of it, that, because my own
teachers-Jerome Buckley, Paul Fulcher-
would accept only one piece a week from
any student, I was regularly submitting
additional stories and themes to other
teachers through other students. It was the
criticism I wanted: the approval, of course,
but also the criticism. Professor Fulcher
was most interested in matters of style. I
remember still his comment on the one
piece I wrote for him that earned his A:
"very good, but you seem to have an inter-
esting theory about semicolons."
   In my sophomore year I began auditing
courses in the music school, and during my
senior year I was auditing graduate courses
in composition and orchestration. I was
lighting all the Wisconsin Players' produc-
tions (with Jim Brandon, now head of the
Asian Drama department at the University
of Hawaii). I had written a radio play, but
at that time there was no machinery for
producing student work on WHA. So I
hawked the script in the corridors of that
                                 continued


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