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Hollywood’s Dark Lord – Harry Manka: 1886-1976

Allen & Company retreat, Ari Emanuel, Barry Diller, Ben Silverman, Bob Iger, Carol Bartz, DumbDumb, Electus, Eric Schmidt, Gina Bianchini, Herb Allen, Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference, Herbert Allen, Jeff Bewkes, Jeff Weiner, Jeff Zucker, Jeffrey Immelt, Jerry Yang, Khan Manka, Lady Gaga, Leslie Moonves, Lloyd Grohl, Manka Bros., Marissa Mayer, Mark Pincus, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Chernin, Phillippe Dauman, Reid Hoffman, Richard Parsons, Ricky Van Veen, Rupert Murdoch, Sergey Brin, Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Jobs, Sun Valley Retreat, Sun Valley Retreat 2010, Terry Semel, World's Largest Media Company, Chase Carey, James Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch, Jim Gianopulos, Joel Klein, Jon Miller, Steve Burke, Michael Angelakis, Leslie Moonves, Philippe Dauman, Jeff Bewkes, John Martin, Howard Stringer, Rob Wiesenthal, Michael Lynton, John Malone, Greg Maffei, Haim Saban, David Zaslav, John Hendricks, Mike White, Edgar Bronfman, Len Blavatnik, Tim Armstrong, Peter Chernin, Tom Freston, Carol Bartz, Jerry Yang, Mark Pincus, Owen Van Natta, Brian Roberts, Jason Kilar, Wayne Willich, Reid Hoffman, Harvey Weinstein, Diane Von Furstenberg, Andrew Mason, Jason Kilar, Ben Horowitz, Gina Bianchini, Mark Pincus, Ali Pincus, Robert Wiesenthal, Tom Freston, Bing Gordon, Bill Gates, Chris Christie, Martin Sorrell, Eric Lefkofsky, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Cory Booker, Michael Bloomberg, Joel Klein, Lachlan Murdoch, James Murdoch, Bobby Kotick, Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Dick Costolo, Ross Levinsoh, Paul Sagan, Leslie Moonves, Tim Armstrong, Glenn Britt, Donald Graham, Kazuo Hirai, Howard Stringer, Jae-Yong Lee, Bryan Lourd, Ron Meyer, Brad Grey, Edmund Lee, Anthony Palazzo, John Malone, Chris Silbermann, Jim Berkus, Roger Goodell, David Stern, Chris Christie, Julius Genachowski, Erin Burnett, Charlie Rose, Becky Quick, Todd Davidson, Reed Hastings, Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Ken Allen, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jean-Bernard Levy, Lucian Grainge, Jonathan Boyar, Mark Pincus, Michael Lynton, Mandy Tavakol, Mario Monti, Dave DeVoe, John Martin, Brian Roberts, David Zaslav, Mel Karmazin, Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson, Jason Kilar, King Abdullah II, Queen Rania, Queen Noor, #sv12, #Sunvalley2012, #allenco, Robert Johnson, Anne Sweeney, Brian Grazer, Michael Ovitz, Hiroshi Mikitani, Owen Van Natta, Don Mattrick, Jack WelchNormally, I’m too busy to talk about my father’s death (which happened on this date in 1976) but since I am at my Montauk beach house looking out at the Atlantic Ocean with a very nice bottle of Slivovitz, I have a little bit of time (and am drunk enough) to write about my dad.

Harry Manka was a real prick. Not just to me but to all of my mothers (he had six wives – I’ve never really been sure which one was my real mother).

But people outside the family loved Harry Manka. He was called Hollywood’s Dark Lord for his habit of holding certain actors and writers hostage in the attic of Building 23 on the studio lot (dubbed “The Tower”) until they gave in to his demands.

Harry Manka had an amazing ability to stay alive. Most people thought he would die from his sixth heart attack in 1958 (the year of my birth) – but he would go on to have two more and two strokes over the next 18 years.

He drank a bottle of Crown Royal every day, smoked three packs of unfiltered Camel Turkish Gold cigarettes every day and smoked a box of cigars every day.

Dad must have loved horrible movies and television shows because he was constantly making them. During the early 1970s, he nearly bankrupt our family and the studio with such gems as Escape From Satan’s Planet and Black Illiad.

Abe Warner, Ava Seave, Ben Silverman, Bob Hope, Bob Iger, Carl Laemmle, Chairman's Blog, Curse of the Mogul, Gerald Ford, Harry Fox, Harry Manka, Harry Warner, Irving Thalberg, Jack Warner, Jeff Bewkes, Jeff Zucker, Jefferson Starship, Joey Levitch, Jonathan A. Knee, Khan Manka, King of the Moguls, Lew Wasserman, Louis B. Mayer, Manka Bros., Michael Eisner, Peter Chernin, Ron Meyer, Roy Disney, Rupert Murdoch, Sam Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Sid Sheinberg, Sumner Redstone, Walt Disney, World's Largest Media CompanyBut this is not a day to piss on my father’s grave.

This is a day to remember a man who co-founded the World’s Largest Media Company (though it wasn’t the largest when I took over in 1976) with my two Uncles – the great Khan Manka (Sr.) who died tragically in 1937; and crazy Simeon Manka (1882 – 1958) who died on Hollywood Blvd. wearing only a sandwich board that read “Benny’s World of Beef.”

I vaguely remember the day of Harry Manka’s death. I received a call from C.J. Siegal, my dad’s personal assistant, who told me he was killed on the golf course after being hit with an errant tee shot.

We knew nothing could kill my dad and suddenly he dies after being hit with a golf ball? It was crazy. To this day, no one has confirmed who hit the ball that killed my dad. But we know. He was playing with Bob Hope, Joey Levitch and President of the U.S. – GERALD FORDWho do you think killed Harry Manka?

Abe Warner, Ava Seave, Ben Silverman, Bob Hope, Bob Iger, Carl Laemmle, Chairman's Blog, Curse of the Mogul, Gerald Ford, Harry Fox, Harry Manka, Harry Warner, Irving Thalberg, Jack Warner, Jeff Bewkes, Jeff Zucker, Jefferson Starship, Joey Levitch, Jonathan A. Knee, Khan Manka, King of the Moguls, Lew Wasserman, Louis B. Mayer, Manka Bros., Michael Eisner, Peter Chernin, Ron Meyer, Roy Disney, Rupert Murdoch, Sam Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Sid Sheinberg, Sumner Redstone, Walt Disney, World's Largest Media CompanyC.J. was horrified when I told him I wouldn’t be able to come to the house later to be with the family because my band – King Khan – was getting ready for a very important gig at the Starlite Room in North Hollywood. Plus, later that night I had tickets for Jefferson Starship at the Forum. Being the son of a movie mogul, I always got backstage passes and nothing was going to stop me from using them.

On the day of his death, I was named Chairman & CEO of Manka Bros. Studios. I did not want this job. I wanted to take and smoke a lot of drugs with my Hollywood friends. I didn’t want to wear shoes and go to an office. I could feel that my band was really starting to take off. But C.J. Siegal reasoned with me and said I could immediately sign my own band to the Manka Bros. Records label and record a real album. This convinced me to take the job.

But after two weeks in that giant office with movie stars and directors begging you to make their movies, I quickly dropped the band and never recorded that album.

I realized being a media mogul is so much more impressive than being in a garage band. No matter how good our version of “Smoke On The Water” was.

So, here we are, 34 years later, and Manka Bros. is the World’s Largest Media Company.

I’ll leave you with one final thought – one of the last things my father ever said to me: “If you’re going to waste your life – go ahead and kill yourself.  I’ll even give you the pills or the gun to do it!” – Harry Manka (1886-1976).

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24 comments

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  15. Lou · August 5, 2010

    Wow that
    was unusual. I just wrote an very long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m
    not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to
    say excellent blog!

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  20. Tim N · August 5, 2010

    Sounds like my kind of guy.

  21. Alan Kin · August 5, 2010

    That son of a bitch built Hollywood. A little respect please!

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