Actor known for ‘Robinson Crusoe on Mars’
Paul Mantee, 82, a veteran actor who starred in the 1964 science-fiction adventure film “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” and had a regular role as Detective Al Corassa on the 1980s TV series “Cagney and Lacey” before turning to fiction writing, died Nov. 7 at a rehabilitation center in Canoga Park, according to his wife, Suzy Davis Mantee. The longtime Malibu resident had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He was born Paul Marianetti on Jan. 9, 1931, in San Francisco and as a teenager worked as a busboy in his family’s Italian restaurant before becoming interested in acting.
“It wasn’t fashionable to be Italian, so they changed my name from Marianetti to Mantee, after Duke Mantee,” the character in “Petrified Forest” played by Humphrey Bogart, he told The Times in 1991. “A couple of years later, a guy named Tony Franciosa proved that you could have an Italian name and make it in acting.”
Mantee often played the heavy in a slew of television appearances from the late 1950s to the early 1990s, including roles in “The Fugitive,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Ironside,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Mannix,” “Vega$,” “Quincy M.E.” and “Hunter.” From 1983 to ’88 he had a supporting role in “Cagney and Lacey,” the CBS police drama starring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless.
Mantee’s most memorable role on the big screen was in “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” a modern version of the Daniel Defoe novel envisioning an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet with a monkey. Victor Lundin and Adam West of “Batman” costarred in the movie that became a cult favorite. Mantee also starred in the 1968 thriller “A Man Called Dagger” and had small parts in “The Great Santini,” “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and other films.
When his acting career lagged, Mantee returned to cooking and then began writing. He published his first novel, “In Search of the Perfect Ravioli,” in 1991 and followed three years later with “Bruno of Hollywood.” In recent years he wrote columns for the Malibu Times.
Times staff reports