Allan Manings dies at 86; TV comedy writer and co-creator of ‘One Day at a Time’


Allan Manings, a television comedy writer and producer who created the situation comedy “One Day at a Time” with his late wife, actress Whitney Blake, has died. He was 86.

Manings, who recently underwent surgery for esophageal cancer, died after going into cardiac arrest Wednesday at his oncologist’s office in Beverly Hills, said his stepdaughter, actress Meredith Baxter.

In a career that began in the 1950s, Manings wrote for TV shows such as “Leave It to Beaver,” “McHale’s Navy” and “Petticoat Junction.”

As a writer on the comedy sensation “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” Manings was part of a team that won the 1968 Emmy for outstanding writing achievement in a musical or variety program.

He came into TV producer Norman Lear’s fold as a writer and an executive producer on “Good Times,” the 1974-79 CBS sitcom about a black family living on the South Side of Chicago and starring John Amos, Esther Rolle and Jimmie Walker.

Tapping his wife’s memories of having been raised by a divorced mother and her own experiences as a divorced mother before they were married, Manings and Blake created “One Day at a Time” for Lear’s company.

The 1975-84 CBS sitcom starred Bonnie Franklin as the mom and Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as her teenage daughters.

“He was a wonderful man and a wonderful writer,” Lear said of Manings on Friday.

Getting a series about a divorced single woman with children on the air in the 1970s “was difficult,” Lear said. With a chuckle, he added: “We were living in other times; we were growing in awareness.”

A lifelong advocate for social justice, Manings often dealt with those kinds of issues in his writing.

Lear said he and Manings were “totally politically sympatico.”

“This man knew his citizenship mattered, and he lived that way,” Lear said. “As a voter, as a thinker, as an American, he knew what mattered. He was a concerned, caring, generous soul. And a hell of a writer.”

Long active in the Writers Guild of America, Manings received its Morgan Cox Award in 1997. The award is presented to “that member or group of members whose vital ideas, continuing efforts and personal sacrifice best exemplify the ideal of service to the guild.”

At the time, Manings had served on the guild’s board of directors for 12 years, on the advisory board for the guild magazine and on more than 20 guild committees.

“Allan was one of the funniest men you would ever know,” Baxter said. “I call him Sweetheart Cranky Pants because he’s rough and blustering, a very outspoken liberal but a terrific, funny man and a real softy.”

Manings most recently wrote a play, “Goodbye Louie … Hello,” a comedy-drama dealing with a family’s memories. It will be produced by Theatre West in Los Angeles in the coming months.

Manings was born March 28, 1924, in Newark, N.J., and grew up on Staten Island. After serving in the Army in the Pacific during World War II, he joined other returning GIs to become the first male students at Sarah Lawrence College.

Manings’ wife died in 2002.

In addition to Baxter, he is survived by two stepsons, Richard and Brian Baxter; his sister, Muriel Manings; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Services are pending.