Henry Mancini (April 16, 1924 – June 14, 1994) was an Academy Award winning American composer, conductor and arranger. He is remembered particularly for being a composer of film and television scores. Mancini also won a record number of Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. His best-known works are the jazz-idiom theme to The Pink Panther film series (The Pink Panther Theme) and Moon River.
In 1952, Mancini joined the Universal Pictures music department. During the next six years, he contributed music to over 100 movies, most notably The Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, This Island Earth, The Glenn Miller Story (for which he received his first Academy Award nomination), The Benny Goodman Story and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. Mancini left Universal-International to work as an independent composer/arranger in 1958. Soon after, he scored the television series Peter Gunn for writer/producer Blake Edwards, the genesis of a relationship which lasted over 35 years and produced nearly 30 films. Together with Alex North, Elmer Bernstein, Leith Stevens and Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini was one of the pioneers who introduced jazz music into the late romantic orchestral film and TV scores prevalent at the time.
Mancini's scores for Blake Edwards included Breakfast at Tiffany's (with the standard, "Moon River"), and with "Days of Wine and Roses," "Experiment in Terror," The Pink Panther, (and all of its sequels, such as "A Shot in the Dark"), The Great Race, The Party, "Victor/Victoria". Another director with a longstanding partnership with Mancini was Stanley Donen (Charade, Arabesque, Two for the Road). Mancini also composed for Howard Hawks (Man's Favorite Sport, Hatari! — which included the well-known "Baby Elephant Walk"), Martin Ritt (The Molly Maguires), Vittorio de Sica (Sunflower), Norman Jewison (Gaily Gaily), Paul Newman (Sometimes a Great Notion, The Glass Menagerie), Stanley Kramer's (Oklahoma Crude), George Roy Hill (The Great Waldo Pepper), Arthur Hiller (Silver Streak), and Ted Kotcheff (Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?), and others. Mancini's score for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Frenzy (1972), was rejected and replaced by Ron Goodwin's work.
Mancini scored many TV movies, including The Thorn Birds and The Shadow Box. He wrote his share of television themes, including Mr. Lucky, NBC News Election Night Coverage, NBC Mystery Movie, What's Happening!!, Newhart, Remington Steele, Tic Tac Dough (1990 version) and Hotel. Mancini also composed the "Viewer Mail" theme for Late Night with David Letterman.
Mancini recorded over 90 albums, in styles ranging from big band to classical to pop. Eight of these albums were certified gold by The Recording Industry Association of America. He had a 20 year contract with RCA Records, resulting in 60 commercial record albums that made him a household name composer of easy listening music.
Mancini's range also extended to orchestral and ethnic scores (Lifeforce, The Great Mouse Detective, Sunflower, "Tom and Jerry: The Movie", Molly Maguires, The Hawaiians), and darker themes ("Experiment In Terror," "The White Dawn," "Wait Until Dark," "The Night Visitor").
Mancini was also a concert performer, conducting over fifty engagements per year, resulting in over 600 symphony performances during his lifetime. Among the symphony orchestras he conducted are the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He appeared in 1966, 1980 and 1984 in command performances for the British Royal Family. He also toured several times with Johnny Mathis and with Andy Williams, who had sung many of Mancini's songs.
Mancini had experience with acting and voice roles. In 1994 he made a one-off cameo appearance in the first season of the sitcom series Frasier, as a call-in patient to Dr. Frasier Crane's radio show. Mancini voiced the character Al, who speaks with a melancholy drawl and hates the sound of his own voice, in the episode "Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast? Mancini also had an uncredited performance as a pianist in the 1967 movie Gunn, the movie version of the series Peter Gunn, the score of which was originally composed by Mancini himself.
Mancini died at the age of 70 in Beverly Hills/Los Angeles, California of pancreatic cancer. He was working at the time on the Broadway stage version of Victor/Victoria. At the time of his death, Mancini was married to singer Virginia "Ginny" O´Connor, with whom he had three children. Ginny Mancini went on to found the Society of Singers a non profit organization which benefits the health and welfare of professional singers worldwide. Additionally the Society awards scholarships to students pursuing an education in the vocal arts and holds the annual Ella Awards. One of Mancini's twin daughters, Monica Mancini, is a professional singer.
In 1996, the Henry Mancini Institute, an academy for young music professionals, was founded by Jack Elliott in Mancini's honor, and later under the direction of composer-conductor Patrick Williams. By the early 2000s, however, the institute could not sustain itself and closed its doors on December 31, 2006. However, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers(ASCAP) Foundation "Henry Mancini Music Scholarship" has been awarded annually since 2001.
Mancini won a total of four Oscars for his music in the course of his career. He was first nominated for an Academy Award in 1955 for his original score of The Glenn Miller Story, on which he collaborated with Joseph Gershenson. He lost out to Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 1962 he was nominated in the Best Music, Original Song category for "Bachelor in Paradise" from the film of the same name, in collaboration with lyricist Mack David. That song did not win. However, Mancini did receive two Oscars that year: one in the same category, for the song "Moon River" (shared with lyricist Johnny Mercer), and one for "Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture" for Breakfast at Tiffany's. The following year, he and Mercer took another Best Song award for "Days of Wine and Roses," another eponymous theme song. His next eleven nominations went for naught, but he finally garnered one last statuette working with lyricist Leslie Bricusse on the score for Victor/Victoria, which won the "Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score" award for 1983. All three of the films for which he won were directed by Blake Edwards. His score for Victor/Victoria was adapted for the 1995 Broadway musical of the same name.