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"I probably never would have become America's leading fire-eater if Flamo the Great hadn't happened to explode that night in front of Krinko's Great Combined carnival Side Shows."

Daniel P Mannix, Memoirs of a Sword Swallower

Daniel Mannix - image

Daniel P Mannix IV Biography

Daniel Pratt Mannix IV (Oct. 27, 1911 — Jan. 29, 1997) became best known as an American author and journalist. Mannix's works include the 1958 book Those About to Die, which remained in continuous print for three decades, and the 1967 novel The Fox and the Hound which was adapted into an animated film by Walt Disney Productions. His novel Drifter was a Newberry Medal Nominee.


"Daniel Pratt Mannix 4th's early life might have come right out of True Adventure magazine, and it still would have been hard to believe."
2/2/1997, Philadelphia Inquirer

As a child and young man, Daniel P Mannix spent a lot of time at his grandparents' farm outside Philadelphia while his naval father was away on postings accompanied by his wife, Jule Junker Mannix. Daniel began to keep and raise various wild animals. The cost of feeding these animals led Daniel to write his first book, The Back-Yard Zoo.


Mannix life was filled with lots of exciting chapters; it was remarkably different from other writers of his generation. His career included times as a side show performer, magician, trainer of eagles and film maker. His life became not what his family planned when he was born in Bryn Mawr. The son, grandson and great-grandson of Navy men, he was assumed to have saltwater in his veins, and duly enrolled at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., in 1930. But he quickly moved in 1931 to the University of Pennsylvania, while postponing his interest in zoology for a degree in journalism. During World War II, Navy lieutenant Mannix was with the Photo-Science Laboratory in Washington, D. C.

The Grest Zadma was a stage name Mannix used as a magician. He also entertained as a sword swallower and fire eater in a traveling carnival sideshow. Magazine articles about these experiences, co-written with his wife, became very popular in 1944 and 1945 and these accounts of carnival life are to be found in the book, Step Right Up, reprinted in 1964 as Memoirs of a Sword Swallower. At times Mannix was a professional hunter, a collector of wildlife for zoos and circuses, and a bird trainer. In 1956 Mannix showed his many talents by writing, producing, directing, acting in, training birds and photographing for a short film Universal Color Parade: Parrot Jungle.

As an author Mannix covered a wide variety of subject matter. His more than 25 books ranged from fictional animal stories for children, the natural history of animals, and adventurous accounts about hunting big game to sensational adult non-fiction topics such as a biography of the occultist Aleister Crowley, sympathetic accounts of carnival performers and sideshow freaks, and works describing, among other things, the Hellfire Club, the Atlantic slave trade, the history of torture, and the Roman games. His output of essays and articles was extensive. In 1983, Mannix edited The Old Navy: The Glorious Heritage of the U. S. Navy, which is his father's (Rear Admiral Daniel P Mannix III) autobiographical account of his life and naval career from the Spanish-American War of 1898 until his retirement in 1928.

An interest in magic led Mannix to become a skilled stage magician, magic historian, and collector of illusions and apparatus. In 1957, he was one of the 16 members who co-founded the Munchkin Convention of the International Wizard of Oz Club. He contributed numerous articles to The Baum Bugle, including one on the subject of the 1902 musical extravanganza, The Wizard of Oz.

Personal Life

Travel and the raising of exotic animals led to an adventurous life for Mannix and his wife as they travelled around the world until 1950. They had a son, Daniel Pratt Mannix, V, and a daughter, Julie Mannix Von Zernick. From 1950 on they lived in Pennsylvania. Mannix died at the age of 85 and was survived by his son and daughter, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Literary Influences

According to Martin M. Winkler's book, Gladiator: Film and History, Mannix's 1958 non-fiction book Those About to Die (reprinted in 2001 as The Way of the Gladiator) was the inspiration for David Franzoni's screenplay for the 2000 movie Gladiator.