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Mardik Martin, Screenwriter of ‘Raging Bull,’ ‘Mean Streets,’ Dies at 82

Egberi Odiri Mackson

Sept. 12, 2019

Photo: David Azia/AP/Shutterstock
Screenwriter Mardik Martin , a frequent collaborator with Martin Scorsese on films including “ Raging Bull ,” “ Mean Streets ” and “New York, New York,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles at 82.
Born in Iran to an Armenian family and raised in Iraq, where he worked for a film distributor as a teenager, Martin moved to the U.S. to study economics at NYU, then gravitated to the film department, where he met Scorsese in 1961. Soon after, he began working with the director on some of his early films such as the 1964 short “It’s Not Just You, Murray,” then on Scorsese’s feature debut, “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?” and documentary “Italianamerican.”
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Screenwriter Howard Rodman was among those who recalled his career.
As writer Peter Biskind recounted in “The New Hollywood,” “The two young men sat in Martin’s Valiant and wrote. In the winter, in the cold and snow.”
Martin co-wrote 1973’s “Mean Streets” with Scorsese, then co-wrote “New York, New York” with Earl Mac Rauch. After moving to Hollywood, Martin worked for Chartoff-Winkler Productions, for whom he wrote Ken Russell’s “Valentino.”
Though “The Last Waltz,” Scorsese’s 1978 film on the Band’s final concert, was a documentary, Martin worked on writing the treatment as he did for Scorsese’s documentary “American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince.”
For the 1980 “Raging Bull,” Martin spent a year and a half researching boxer Jake LaMotta’s life and co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Schrader, earning a Golden Globe nomination. He told the Los Angeles Times in 2007, “De Niro wanted to make ‘Raging Bull,’ but Marty didn’t [because] he hated boxing and sports.”
Until he found a second wind as writing professor at NYU and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Martin had a difficult period during which he became addicted to cocaine and lost out on writing jobs such as “Carlito’s Way.”
His last screenplay credit was for Fatih Akin’s 2014 “The Cut.”
A documentary about his life, “Mardik: Baghdad to Hollywood,” was made in 2008.
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