Son of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Rose Stradner.
Nephew of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz.
Brother of actor-producer-writer Christopher Mankiewicz. Also has a half-brother Eric Reynal and a half-sister Alexandra.
First cousin of screenwriter Don Mankiewicz, Frank Mankiewicz and the late novelist Johanna Mankiewicz Davis.
First cousin once-removed of producer Nick Davis, screenwriter John Mankiewicz, radio personality & TCM host Ben Mankiewicz and journalist Josh Mankiewicz.
Attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University (1955-59), majoring in drama. Before his graduation, he worked as production assistant on the John Wayne western, The Comancheros (1961). He continued to work as a production associate through most of the early 1960's. Came to the fore as screenwriter of three back-to-back James Bond thrillers, Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
Was linked romantically with Margot Kidder, Tuesday Weld, Jill St. John, Carol Lynley, Inger Stevens, Gayle Hunnicutt and Marisa Berenson.