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Passings / Howard Mann

Actor did a rap routine on aging

September 23, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Howard Mann, 85, an actor and comedian who regularly appeared on television and often performed a rap routine about growing old, died Thursday of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Bea Mitz, his longtime companion.

The actor was born Howard Mendelsohn in New York in 1923 and turned to comedy after being laid off from his job as an ad copywriter.

He started out performing in Catskill Mountains resorts and later appeared on the Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin shows, The Times reported in 1991.

During the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, Mann toured the country as George Washington in a one-man show and later performed off-Broadway as Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple."

He became familiar to TV viewers through "Laverne & Shirley," "Alice," "Moonlighting" and dozens of other shows. A veteran of TV commercials, Mann also appeared in a number of films, including "History of the World: Part I" (1981) and "Mr. Saturday Night" (1992).

In the late 1980s, Mann created a rap routine that he performed for years before senior citizens throughout the San Fernando Valley. His raps might touch on the quirks of antique digestive tracts or the bittersweet togetherness of retired couples.

Of his 40 years in show business, Mann wrote in The Times in 2006 that -- as an actor and comic -- he had "probably been turned down more times than a blanket."

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