Actor (1939 - 2013)

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Sailing awayJAMES (JIMMY) MANIS

Jimmy passed away in Long Beach, California on January 3, 2013, where he lived for the past 29 years with his Wife & life partner Beverlee. Jimmy was 73 years old and is survived by his Step Son Charles (Chuck) Deaver; Adopted Sons, Ralph and Christopher (Chris) Manis: Sisters, Luella Polakis & Georgia Manis; Nieces, Amalia (Amy) Gawley Katherine (Kathy) Deeds, Great Nice, Lia Nicole Schott and Rachel Nicole Gawley; Great Nephew, Cameron Scott Deeds and James Charles Gawley; Great-Great Nephews Cade Michael and Nico Cameron Schott.

Jimmy was born in Gary Indiana on April 18, 1939 to Nicholas & Katherine Manis. He graduated Horace Mann High School in Gary, In and on to Indiana University to Major in Fine Arts. In 1962 he was drafted by the US Army, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas and honorably discharged in 1964. After the Army he moved to New York City/Greenwich Village where he successfully followed his ambition at HB Studios acting school with Uda Hagan & Herbert Berghof. In 1966 was with The Fourth Wall improve group with Marsha Wallace and writer, producer, actor, Jeremy Stevens, He was featured in several movies & commercials: 1970 Loving with George Segal & Eva Marie Saint; 1977 Breakstone commercials as Sam Breakstone’s Helper, which ultimately lead to his most notable character Aldo Cella, spokesperson for Cella Wines for 9 years, 1977-1986; 1979 Going in Style with George Burns, Art Carney & Lee Strasberg. He retired as Aldo Cella in 1986, but continued to work in both motion pictures & TV shows.  In 1987 LA Law, 1991 Defending your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep, 1992-1993 Knots Landing and 1994 The George Carlin Show. A small sampling of his professional gigs can be seen on the James Manis Website.

Jimmy was a great jazz aficionado. Bix Biederbecke was his favorite artist (his California License Plate was BIXLVS.) While he attending IU he met and played drums with Wes Montgomery and Freddy Hubbard, who became personal friends throughout the years. After IU he was a regular at The Plug Nickel jazz club in Chicago, where he heard Miles Davis, John Coltrane. After moving to Greenwich Village he was a regular at the Village Vanguard; Owners Max & Lorraine Gordon always had a seat for him. Also among his Village favorites; The Five Spot and The Half Note. He said he probably heard every jazz great of the era and loved every minute of it. He had a great love for jazz and would visit the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach and The Catalina Bar in Hollywood after his moved to Long Beach.

Jimmy and Beverlee had a great life, they traveled Europe to Italy, France, Greece, Switzerland and Austria. Other trips were across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto, by train.  Hawaii, Alaska the Caribbean and most recently driving from California to Georgia stopping in Santa Fe, NM, visiting family in Arkansas, through the Smokey Mountains to Williamsburg, VA, Rehoboth Beach, DE to visit with Sons Ralph & Chris and Ralph’s Wife Ellen for a stay at Ralph and Ellen’s beachfront home. Then to visit Son Chuck in Dublin, GA for a total of 7000 miles. Great fun and great times great life.

Jimmy was a one of kind, kind of guy. He had talent, wit and could improve with the best. He lived life exactly the way he wanted to and had no regrets of the life he lived. He loved his Wife, Family and friends. He will always be remembered with a smile.