Director, producer, screenwriter. Born February 5, 1943, in Chicago, Illinois. Raised in the working class Chicago neighborhood of Humboldt Park, Mann graduated from high school in 1960 and attended the University of Wisconsin, where he received his BA in English literature. After college, Mann did graduate work at the London Film School, earning his master’s degree in 1967. While in England, he worked at an advertising agency and honed his directorial skills on commercials, short films, and documentaries.
Mann moved back to Chicago in 1971 and relocated to Los Angeles a year later, where he began writing for television, scripting the prime time crime dramas Starsky and Hutch and Police Story and the pilot for a 1978 TV movie, Vega$. His first TV directorial effort, a drama called The Jericho Mile (1979), won Mann a Director’s Guild of America Award as well as an Emmy for co-writing. In 1981, Mann made his feature film directorial debut with Thief, a crime drama starring James Caan; the film received good reviews but never took off commercially. His next offering as a director, The Keep (1983), was both a commercial and a critical disappointment. Mann’s third effort was Manhunter (1987), a little-seen film based on Thomas Harris’s novel Red Dragon that introduced the character of serial killer Hannibal Lecter (made famous by Anthony Hopkins in the Oscar-winning 1991 film version of Harris’s second Lecter novel, The Silence of the Lambs). Though directing feature films was Mann’s first love, he had considerably more success early on as a producer for television, especially with his work as executive producer for the mid-1980s crime series Miami Vice. Mann served as the mastermind behind the slick, stylized drama, which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1989 and starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as Detectives Crockett and Tubbs. A then-hip, fast-paced cop drama for the MTV generation, Miami Vice almost immediately became a full-fledged cultural phenomenon; Crockett and Tubbs, with their pastel shirts and Armani suits, became icons of ‘80s fashion. Mann also executive-produced another cop series, Police Story, which aired from 1986 to 1988.
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Michael Mann biography
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