|Attained post of general sales manager Paramount Pictures Canada, Ltd.|
|Served as president of Paramount Canada|
|Worked as usher at the Lafayette Theatre in Buffalo while a high school student; then as an assistant theater manager while in college|
|Promoted; served as vice president of domestic distribution of Paramount Pictures, Canada, Ltd.|
|Hired by Basil theater circuit (Western New York and Pennsylvania) as film buyer after graduating college|
|Worked as sales representative, Buffalo branch|
|Announced retirement from MGM in April|
|Left Paramount and filed a $45 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against the company, claiming he did not resign as was released to the press but was illegally fired (March)|
|Made vice president and general sales manager for Paramount Canada|
|Made branch manager|
|Hired by Paramount as film booker for its Buffalo office|
|Appointed chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures; also director of Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Named president of Paramount's motion picture division|
|Made executive vice president, marketing and distribution, Paramount|
|Made manager of Paramount's US Western Division|
|Named chairman and CEO of MGM|
Frank G. Mancuso was born on July 25, 1933, in Buffalo, NY, the son of a postal worker. While in high school, Mancuso worked as an usher at the Colvin movie theater in neighboring Kenmore, an Art Moderne movie house owned by the Basil Brothers, Greek immigrants who established a circuit of show places in Western New York. Eventually, Mancuso worked his way up to an assistant manager position at the Basil's 3,000 seat Lafayette Theater in Buffalo, the largest movie house in Western New York. After his graduation from the State University of New York, Buffalo, Mancuso was hired by the Basils as a film buyer and programmer for their 50-theater empire in the Western New York market and Pennsylvania. The new enterprise gave him his first experience with film sales. In 1962, he was hired away by Paramount Pictures, who put him to work as a film booker in their Buffalo office. By 1965, he had ascended to the position of branch manager and a brilliant, at times stormy career was born.
In 1970, he was again promoted, this time to the position of general sales manager for Paramount's Canadian arm; two years later, he assumed control of all Canadian operations. During his time in the Great White North, Mancuso was named President of the Canadian Motion Picture Association and served on the board of directors for the Canadian Film Institute. In 1976, Mancuso returned to the United States to become the head of Paramount's Western Division. Two years later, he was named Senior Vice President of domestic distribution and marketing and became Executive Vice President the following year. By 1980, Mancuso was President of Distribution and Marketing and in 1983 was named President of Paramount's Motion Picture Group and overseer of all studio productions. The following year, a seismic shake-up within the studio would push him to an all-time position of corporate power.
After an ugly public dispute in 1984 between Martin S. Davis, the New York-based CEO of Paramount's parent company Gulf & Western, and studio chairman Barry Diller, Mancuso was named as the new head of Paramount. The regime change shocked the entertainment industry, as Diller's presumed heir was thought to be his assistant, Michael Eisner. When second-in-command Eisner resigned in the wake of Diller's abdication (it would remain a bone of contention for years as to whether Diller was officially released from his contract or left of his own volition), Mancuso was installed in a position of near absolute power at Paramount, sparking a firestorm of speculation in Hollywood about the qualifications of "the booker from Buffalo" to run a major studio. One of Mancuso's first moves was to hire Ned Tanen as the Head of Motion Picture Division. Tanen had enjoyed a meteoric career of his own, rising from the lowly ranks of MCA mailroom clerk to become the President of Universal Studios; among his pet projects were the smash hits "American Graffiti" (1973), "Jaws" (1975) and "Animal House" (1978).
Mancuso distinguished himself from his predecessors and from Hollywood protocol by keeping an open mind about projects greenlit prior to his appointment, which customarily fall by the wayside with each administrative shake-up. Mancuso personally saved the script for "Top Gun" (1986) from the discard file and Paramount was rewarded with $400 million in worldwide receipts. Subsequent hits on Mancuso's watch were "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986), "Pretty in Pink" (1986), "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986), "Crocodile Dundee" (1987), "Fatal Attraction" (1987), "The Untouchables" (1987), "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), "Ghost" (1990), "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) and the Eddie Murphy vehicles "The Golden Child" (1987), "Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987) and "Coming to America" (1988). A consensus builder and a paterfamilias figure who proudly wore the sobriquet "the Godfather of Hollywood," Mancuso placed an emphasis on getting to work rather than in keeping up appearances, not moving so much as a stick of furniture in the office he inherited from Barry Diller until he had been at the job for over a year.
Because Hollywood had always loved a rise-and-fall story, the media was primed for Mancuso's tumble from grace as the Eighties yielded to the Nineties. The low performance or outright failure of such projects as "The Two Jakes" (1990), "Days of Thunder" (1990), "The Godfather III" (1990) and Eddie Murphy's "Harlem Nights" (1989) and "Another 48 Hours" (1990), coupled with a highly-publicized and expensive plagiarism suit filed against the studio by humorist Art Buchwald related to his original story for "Coming to America," prompted Gulf & Western to press for Mancuso's ouster in 1991. Claiming that the move violated protective clauses stipulated by his contract, Mancuso sued Paramount for $42 million; the lawsuit was settled in his favor for $22 million, making him one of the wealthiest unemployed men in Hollywood. In 1993, Mancuso was tapped to head Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at the time of the ailing studio's merger with United Artists. UA had been dormant since 1990 while MGM's release schedule had dwindled at that point to half its annual output.
As MGM's newly-appointed Chairman and CEO, Mancuso was at the forefront of a plan by French owners Crédit Lyonnais to kick-start production by injecting $150 million into the coffers and raising the studio's credit line to $400 million. Despite a massive push of capital and publicity to promote the studio's rejuvenation, Crédit Lyonnais could not bring the studio out of the red column and failures outweighed successes. In 1992 alone, MGM suffered a net loss of $271 million. As projects such as "Dirty Work" (1998), "The Mod Squad" (1999), "The Rage: Carrie 2" (1999) and "At First Sight" (1999) tanked at the box office, studio stock slipped precipitously and annual losses approached $100 million. In 1999, at the age of 65, Mancuso was dismissed as Chairman by MGM's majority stock holder, billionaire casino owner Kirk Kerkorian, who had bought and sold the studio several times over during the course of the previous 20 years. When Mancuso retired quietly in the new millennium, the family brand was carried forward by his son. After an inauspicious start as a location scout for the film "Urban Cowboy" (1980), Frank Mancuso, Jr. made his own name in the industry by producing the profitable sequels to the seminal slasher film "Friday the 13th" (1980). Mancuso fils later backed such varied film projects as "Internal Affairs" (1990), "He Said, She Said" (1991), "Cool World" (1992), "Species" (1995, "Hoodlum" (1997), "Ronin" (1998) and "Stigmata" (1999).
By Richard Harland Smith
|Maria Mancuso Gersh||Daughter|
|Frank Mancuso||Son||produced a number of the "Friday the 13th" horror movies|
|State University of New York, Buffalo|
|Member, board of directors the Will Rogers Memorial Fund|
|Member, board of directors the Will Rogers Memorial Fund|
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