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|Occupation||Screenwriter, television writer, producer|
|Jeanne Russo Ganz (1976-present; 3 children)|
Ganz was born in New York City, the son of Jean (née Farber) and Irving Ganz, an arts supply executive. Both of his parents were first-generation Americans born in New York. His mother's family is of Polish Jewish origin from the Bia?ystok area; his father's family is of Hungarian Jewish origin from Maramaros County, in what is today northern Romania.
Ganz grew up in Queens, New York. He briefly attended Queens College, City University of New York, where he and his friend Mark Rothman wrote several comedic skits and shows for school productions. After Rothman's father Abe--a chauffeur who sometimes drove for The Mike Douglas Show--was able to pass a spec script of theirs to Tony Randall, the two got a try-out writing gig on Randall's hit TV show The Odd Couple. However, the producers of the show would only pay for them to come to Los Angeles one-way. Ganz and Rothman dropped out of college and headed west to take the job. After being fired--causing them to briefly live in their car and contemplate driving back across the country to New York--and then re-hired by producer Garry Marshall, the two became regular writers on the show; and Ganz eventually became Head Writer.
That led to a career in Hollywood, writing for a string of television situation comedies. After writing for the short-lived sitcom Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers in 1974, Ganz moved on to writing for Happy Days and co-created two of its spin-off series, Laverne and Shirley and Joanie Loves Chachi.
Ganz and Rothman's TV writing partnership dissolved after studio executives broke up the pair circa 1981. Ganz met his new writing partner, Babaloo Mandel, at The Comedy Store, shortly thereafter; and they made the jump to writing for films.
In 1982, Ganz and Mandel teamed up with fellow Happy Days alumni Ron Howard--who wanted to start directing--and Henry Winkler--who wanted to move away from his image as Fonzie--to make their first film, the low-budget comedy Night Shift, which was also actor Michael Keaton's first film. Ganz's second film outing, Splash, launched the careers of Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah and earned Ganz a nomination for the 1984 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Ganz and Mandel went on to write several other films, four directed by Howard and one by Penny Marshall, alumna of Ganz's previous projects Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers and Laverne and Shirley. Five of their films have starred Billy Crystal, two have starred Tom Hanks, and two have starred Michael Keaton.
Two of Ganz's films are about baseball; Ganz is a passionate fan of the New York Mets. Ganz and Mandel's film Parenthood was semi-autobiographical and highly praised by critics and led to two different spin-off television shows.
Ganz and Mandel are also widely used as Hollywood script doctors, known for their reliability and fast turnaround time. Their screenwriting on several major films of the late 1990s and 2000s is uncredited, including Stuart Little and Stuart Little 2 as notable examples.
In 2019, Ganz received the Writers Guild of America West's 2019 Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, which is presented to Guild members who have "advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the screenwriter."
Ganz lives in Los Angeles with his wife of more than 30 years, Jeanne Russo Ganz. They have three children -- Scott, Allie, and Simon -- all working in entertainment. He is a member of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
Ganz and Mandel were featured in The Dialogue interview series. In this 90-minute interview with producer Mike DeLuca, Ganz and Mandel discusses their 40-year partnership as it evolved from television to feature films.