A film by Ron Mann
Introduction: (2 minutes)
An orchestra comprised of members from the Henry Mancini Arts Academy performs a medley of the composer’s hallmark tunes: “Peter Gunn,” “Baby Elephant Walk,” “Moon River,” and “The Pink Panther”...
To the slinky, sexy roll of a jazz clarinet, an animated pink panther makes his special brand of mischief...
The opening credits to the ‘50s detective show “Peter Gunn,” a throbbing, saxophone-driven rhumba blends into the Michigan University marching band playing the same tune at halftime of a football game...
A ticking dynamite time bomb is stashed in the trunk of a car in a brawling Mexican border town... the car winds its way through the darkened streets full of debauched late night revelers it is accompanied by a wash of exotic and alluring sounds of brassy jazz and gnarly rock ’n roll, all with their own touch of evil...
A tipsy couple, standing on a bridge, finish off a pint bottle of whiskey as a soft, darkly melodic score colors their romantic flirtation... the woman speaks: “They are not long, the days of wine and roses...” The man throws the empty bottle into the water...
A beautiful woman entertains a ski chalet full of evening revelers singing with a hip-swivelin’ song backed by a small Latin combo and leads them in a hip-swivelin’ cha-cha around the room...
To a wistful harmonica, a taxi pulls up at dawn in front of Tiffany & Co. on New York City’s Fifth Avenue... a slender, elegantly dressed woman emerges, saunters to the shop’s windows and nibbling her croissant and sipping coffee from a paper cup, gazes at the jewelry before strolling home... the image fades to black but the music continues for a moment, lingering and fading into silence...
So many iconic scenes from even more iconic films, all filled with meaning, emotion and nuance. Could the music accenting and defining these images really be from the heart and mind of a single composer?
Before Henry Mancini, films were, with few exceptions, scored with Hollywood orchestral schmaltz based in the tropes of Western Classical symphonic tradition. But it was this humble, soft-spoken artist with an eye for cinematic expression and the ear to draw out its deeper sentiment who revolutionized the sonics and collaborative, inclusive nature of the medium.
Act One: 1924-1945 — A Dream Maker (10 Minutes)
1924: Mancini is born in Cleveland, Ohio, an only child to working-class Italian immigrants. 1928: His family moves to West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where his father works as steel worker.
1934: His father takes him to see Cecil B. DeMille’s The Crusades which, with its rich Rudolph Kopp score, puts a spell on Henry. His parents want him to be a teacher but he secretly knows music is his calling.
1935: At his father’s urging, he learns to play the piccolo, flute and piano, joining his dad in the local “Sons of Italy” community band. “He held a club over my head—well, not literally,” Mancini said of his dad’s persuasive power, “but if I didn’t practice, I got hit.”
1937: Henry begins studying with Max Adkins, conductor of a vaudeville orchestra at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater. Also teacher of Billy Strayhorn of Duke Ellington fame and Jerry Fielding who carved out a Hollywood career, Adkins emphasizes composition and arranging.
Late ’30s: Henry is captivated by the Swing Jazz epitomized by his heroes, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Duke Ellington. Intrigued as to how music is put together, he begins transcribing sax choruses off jazz records.
1939-’43: Henry begins studies at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology Music School then transfers Juilliard School of Music in New York City. Adkins introduces him to Goodman who gives Henry a chance as an arranger but Henry fails the audition.
1944-’45: Mancini’s studies are interrupted by World War II. After a stint in the Army Air Corps and infantry that includes the liberation of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, he joins the relative safety of an Army band where he befriends the surviving members of the Glenn Miller band who had lost their leader in a war-related plane crash.
Act Two: 1946-1955 — Two Drifters Off to See the World (15 Minutes)
1946: Decommissioned and returning stateside, he scored a gig with the Miller band as their newly-minted arranger and pianist as they carried on under the direction of Tex Beneke.
1947: While touring with the reconstituted Miller band he crosses paths with Virginia O’Connor, a singer who joins the band, marries “his most severe critic,” and moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of writing music for movies.
1947-51: Marriage, arranging and touring were not enough for the ambitious, ever-curious Mancini who broadened his composition, counterpoint, harmony and orchestration chops in studies with the composers Ernst Krenek and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
Mancini and Ginny become parents when their son Chris is born. He writes scores for radio’s weekly Family Theater program including an adaptation of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and The F.B.I. in War and Peace, and moonlighting as an arranger for club act performers ranging from Ann Miller to Buddy Rich.
1952-58: Just as Ginny gives birth to twin girls, Mancini joins the Universal Pictures music department marking the first milestone in his quest to score films.
Universal’s well-oiled, highly organized staff composers are able to score any sort of film in assembly-line fashion. So it was that Mancini’s music came to be heard in more than 150 projects over the next six years in flicks as diverse as Abbot & Costello’s Lost in Alaska, Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, Six Bridges to Cross, Summer Love, and, rather perfectly, both The Glenn Miller Story (which garnered his first Academy Award nomination) and The Benny Goodman Story. And he enjoyed his first hit single, “I Won’t Let You Out of My Heart” recorded by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians and he contributed music to Rock, Pretty Baby, one of Hollywood’s first rock musicals. The workmanlike apprenticeship well prepares him to approach every film genre with a keen sensitivity.
One of the last films Mancini scored for Universal is a breakthrough both for film sound and cinema itself: Orson Welles’ late noir classic, Touch of Evil starring the director as a corrupt cop, Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh. In the film’s famous opening three-and-a-half minute uncut long shot, Mancini’s ambient, raucous source music emanating from the seedy border town streets through which the action transpires and works as a perfect, chaotic set-up to the unfolding, menacing drama. Along with Mancini’s feverish percussion and horn-driven Latin themes lacing the nightmarish plot, his old player-piano waltz colors the brothel scenes with an air of tawdry decadence.
1959: A chance meeting outside the Universal barbershop with budding B-movie producer- director Blake Edwards proves to be fateful for both men. Edwards’ new television show, Peter Gunn, an edgy crime show centered around the exploits of a hep cat P.I., needs a distinctive score to enhance its mood and suspense and he invites Mancini to compose one. Mancini’s hummable, danceable and undulating theme in which a guitar and a piano play in unison to achieve what Mancini called “a sinister effect with some frightened saxophones and some shouting brass” is an immediate hit with the show’s national audience and becomes an evergreen staple by garage rock bands and high school and college marching bands. And recorded as Music From Peter Gunn, it also gives him his first Grammy for Best Album and Best Arrangement and an Emmy nomination. It also firmly establishes Mancini as a major composer for the genre. “Never has so much been made of so little,” is Mancini’s typically modest disclaimer.
1960: In his use of Latin jazz for Edwards’ next TV series, Mr. Lucky, Mancini crafts an even more daring score, amplifying the sounds of a small jazz combo with lush use of strings and organ, an effort that wins two more Grammys.
It was with these scores that Mancini was taking the first steps towards replacing the use of symphonic arrangement with elements of jazz, Tin Pan Alley and popular music.
Act Three: 1961-1967 — Crossin’ In Style Someday (45 Minutes)
1961: Edwards moves back into film and Mancini is right there with him. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, adapted from Truman Capote’s novella staring Audrey Hepburn as the naïve, eccentric New York City socialite Holly Golightly, features Mancini’s languid “Moon River” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, himself a Tin Pan Alley refugee and “American Songbook” icon. The harmonica and chorus-driven song accompanies the movie’s memorable opening sequence and, laced through the narrative, not only garners two Oscars (Best Original Score and Best Original Song) but has been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and remains among the medium’s most memorable.
1962: With a nimble, stylistic shift that would define his hallmark flexibility, “Baby Elephant Walk,” Mancini’s playful and kooky boogie-woogie is a highlight of Hatari! (Howard Hawks’ romantic African adventure about a crew of professional big game catchers) starring John Wayne, gestures to the continent’s traditional musical sensibilities and instrumentation in garnering a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement. Hawks had shared his collection of indigenous African instruments he had collected during the film’s shoot in Kenya and their sounds are a partial inspiration for Mancini’s Hatari! score.
The maestro cited melody as the key to what fans came to call the Mancini Magic. “A good theme—like the ‘Pink Panther’ or ‘Baby Elephant Walk’—can work all the way through the picture, which is what I did with them,” he said. “So, for me, a good melody is not just a pretty tune.”
Mancini’s sparse, modest score for Edwards’ next film, Days of Wine and Roses, starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick as a couple in a downward alcoholic spiral, stresses the characters’ tortured, lonely relationship and the title song (marked by a solitary French horn and again including Mercer’s lyrics), is awarded a Best Song Oscar.
Soundtrack albums of the Mancini-scored films and television shows enjoy spectacular sales and the music industry takes notice as he begins cutting LPs based on both his scores and new original jazz and pop compositions. Their popularity spurs him into his his first, fitful and not altogether successful national concert appearances.
1963: The Pink Panther, Edwards’ landmark sight-gag diamond heist caper comedy starring David Niven, Robert Wagner, and Peter Sellers as the bumbling, oddball Inspector Clouseau introduces Mancini’s sneaky, soon-to-be forever ubiquitous jazz-pop theme (both sophisticated and fun) which never overkills the humor and wins four Grammys and an Oscar nomination.
Charade, a Hitchcockian romantic thriller starring Hepburn and Cary Grant, is Mancini’s first collaboration with director Stanley Donen. The score—moving between jazz idioms, dissonant modernism and a tasty array of bistro dance pieces, a string quartet, merry-go-round tunes, and Parisian can-cans—provide colorful transitions from scene-to-scene. And the title theme (to which Mercer set another song-poem) earns a Best Song Oscar nomination.
1964: A Shot in the Dark, Edwards’ screwball Pink Panther follow-up, includes a mysterious Mancini theme complete with an antique pump organ he had seen in a London shop window which adds a perfect pinch of intrigue to the Peter Sellers/Clouseau physical-comedic vehicle.
1965: Edwards’ The Great Race, an elaborate, big budget knockabout turn-of-the century road flick farce starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, and a fleet of early roadsters is sustained by Mancini’s colorful score, never afraid to draw attention to itself. Its numerous, musically varied set pieces with individual melodies (one of which, “The Sweetheart Tree,” receives an Oscar nomination), occupy nearly half the film as Mancini transforms Edwards’ pratfall comedy into a pastiche operetta.
1966: Arabesque, another darker Donen thriller involving an assassination plot against a Mideast sheik set in a gloomy London and starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren, is ornamented with Mancini’s gripping saber dance opening music and a succession of alluring Scheherazade-like melodies cued through the film that suggest the Arab musical scale as if blown through a snake charmer’s reed pan pipe.
1967: Two for the Road, among Donen’s most daring pictures starring Hepburn and Albert Finney as an ultrachic British couple whose marriage is portrayed through deftly-edited energetic intercut vignettes and overlapping, fencing dialogue which chart their relationship in three distinct, jumbled, phases: bohemian romance, marital bliss and crisis. Donen’s rejection of Mancini’s first offering shocks the composer who gets back on his feet to produce a score that he and Ginny long cherish as their favorite. Mancini’s lateral, eight-bar road song (colored by the sound of a French accordion and Stephane Grappelli’s jazz violin) correspond to the turning car wheels in the animated title sequence collage is a deeply personal, substantive expression of longing and resolution that bind the theme to the characters, punctuate the narrative and ultimately tie the charming, autumnal story fragments together. And it is here that Mancini commences what would prove to be a long collaboration with Leslie Bricusse another A-list lyricist.
Hepburn lobbies her husband, producer Mel Ferrer, to hire Mancini for her next film, Wait Until Dark, a thriller about a blind woman terrorized in her Greenwich Village basement apartment by a trio of drug thugs. Mancini’s ingenious score accentuates both the heroine’s hypersensitive hearing that compensates for her sightlessness and Alan Arkin’s ruthless, schizoid villain with deft, artistic slight-of-hand. Utilizing two pianos—one tuned correctly and another not—an off- kilter, aural vertigo effect is achieved that at once raises the drama’s anxiety but reflects the essence of each main character. The setting’s inherent claustrophobia is given further Mancini treatment with minimalist musical accents (and instrumentation utilizing everything from a synthesizer and Japanese flute to a lone human whistler) that becomes the film’s sonic unconscious in recreating the blind woman’s dark, unsettling world.
These early and mid-1960s films are but a few of the most notable for which Mancini provided his musical signature. Assignments on such movies as High Time, The Great Imposter, Experiment in Terror, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Dear Heart, Man’s Favorite Sport, Moment to Moment, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, and Gunn had allowed his muse to continue to blow sweet nothings into his ears as he took dictation in the form of musical notation.
And fulfilling his RCA record deal produce annual LPs (Our Man in Hollywood, Uniquely Mancini, Mancini Plays Mancini, Theme Scene, etc.) combined with the high profile, social demands of celebrity diminish his ability to be as present for his family as he wishes even though he composes in a studio in their new, plush home. Ginny, herself occupied with spot singing engagements and local, civic responsibilities, oversees the family’s day-to-day needs but their son Chris’ rebellious nature and his parents’ missteps in dealing with it, strain the not atypical matters. And, along with playing the role of down-to-earth hostess, she navigates the Hollywood party circuit for her husband to be seen as he transitions from working musician to the ranks of the famous without losing his humble center. Finally, the death of Mancini’s father with whom he has maintained an aloof and tense relationship, force the artist to draw on the very marrow of his own life experience in moving forward with channeling his creative spirit to even greater human depths.
Act Four: 1968-1978 — Wider Than a Mile (15 Minutes)
Though his days of impacting popular culture’s zeitgeist are, arguably, behind him, Mancini’s artistic evolution enters a new phase of experimentation as he forges alliances with directors, themselves expanding cinema’s stylistic and narrative boundaries. Thus, Mancini welcomes a wide variety of international, ethnic, historical, and topical projects requiring all manner of music. And, along with fulfilling his annual three album recording deal commitments, he tentatively steps back into live performance.
1968: Mancini’s next project with Edwards is The Party, an elongated Sellers’ driven sight gag satirizing Hollywood’s shallow pomposity that includes some tasty BeBop and mock rock music reinforcing the antic comedy.
1969: Mancini’s arrangement of Nina Rota’s “Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet” that accompanied Franco Zefferelli’s cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers, hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Mancini is invited to prepare an inaugural concert program for the Philadelphia Orchestra Pops that includes reflective Beaver Valley ’37, a symphonic pastiche of the “Sons of Italy” tarantella, steel mill grit and innocent waltz evoking his boyhood memories.
1970: His last film with Edwards for awhile, Darling Lili, stars Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson in a WWI romantic spy thriller cum musical, includes the Oscar nominated chilling waltz “Whistling Away the Dark” complete with a Mercer lyric. But Mancini is unwittingly caught in the middle of Edwards’ studio battles resulting in a rift between the two that is long to mend.
The Molly Maguires, hardboiled director Martin Ritt’s grim portrayal of the 1876 Irish-American Pennsylvania coal strike starring Sean Connery, is further darkened by Mancini’s brooding score that draws on the era’s community-specific folk music in illuminating the downtrodden coal miner’s reality of smokestacks, slag heaps, gray earth, soiled laborers, mine shafts, and eternally gray sunrises.
Mancini’s first international collaboration is with one of the medium’s legends, neo-realist director Vittorio de Sica. Sunflower, starring Marcello Mastroianni and its producer Carlos Ponti’s wife, Sophia Loren, a period forced drama of a woman scorned fending for herself and set against wartime Italian and Russian backdrops, is memorable for two things: the director and producer’s feud and Mancini’s Oscar nominated score that brings regionally-sensitive musical color to the rare de Sica dud.
Continuing to engage clients on his own and bringing an embrace of global music to his aural palette, Mancini is hired by producer-director Walter Mirisch to score The Hawaiians, a sequel to Hawaii, both adapted from novelist James Michener’s sprawling history of the islands’ tortured colonization. With no authentic indigenous music to draw on, Mancini twines the Polynesian, Javanese, Guinean, Chinese, and Japanese music and rhythms already fused and associated with what was characterized as “Hawaiian” in his primary theme for the film and some of its smaller, scene-setting ensemble passages augmenting its multi-layered story.
1970: Mancini’s first of several collaborations with Paul Newman is Sometimes A Great Notion, an adaptation of Ken Kesey’s Faulknerian novel about a maverick Oregon logging family starring Henry Fonda, Lee Remick and the blue-eyed actor/director. Mancini’s score includes an Oscar-nominated song (“All His Children”) and follows Newman’s directions to resemble the brand of commercial pop-country music blaring from pick-up truck radios across the land and shimmers with wailing, whining country music arranged for steel guitar, harmonica, electric organ, tenor sax, trumpets, and down-home country fiddling.
1971: Mancini takes on his most experimental challenge with Scandinavian director Laslo Benedek's psycho-drama The Night Visitor. Disturbingly neurotic, Mancini’s monochromatic, restrictive score without themes, recorded with a relatively small, eighteen instrument orchestra, allows just enough shading to propel the stark tale of revenge starring Swedish favorites, Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman. Rarely has the sound of frigid winter so blanketed a film score.
1973: In a rare turn to documentary, Mancini contributes scores to three parts of Visions of Eight, an unusual assignment in which eight internationally-renowned filmmakers crafted short films about the terrorist-afflicted 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Most notable of these is Claude Lelouch’s section, The Losers, where Mancini’s downcast tones bring the agony of defeat for an array of boxers, bikers, horsemen, swimmers, and wrestlers pinned to the mat into sharp relief.
1974: With The White Dawn Mancini concludes his international experimental phase. This unusual, subdued 19th-century adventure about three whale men (Warren Oates, Timothy Bottoms and Lou Gossett) stranded in the Arctic finds Mancini once more inspired by indigenous instruments and music. Director Phillip Kaufman’s gift of Eskimo-carved pipes, animal skin drums and the recording of an old Inuit woman’s chant are all Mancini needs to catalyze a score in which the thin line between life and death is prescribed by the setting’s unforgiving yet near- mystical environment. Paradoxically, several cues from the score will be—with Mancini’s permission—pilfered for the sublime John Glenn Earth orbit scene in The Right Stuff a decade hence.
Mancini suffers his greatest disappointment: his score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy is rejected by the auteur director though back room studio politics may have played a role in the final decision.
1975: Mancini re-embraces Americana with a vengeance and a splash of panache with a duo of period-piece film scores: The Great Waldo Pepper (starring Newman about early biplane aviation barnstormers) and W.C. Fields and Me (with Rod Steiger playing the lead in a biopic of the irascible comedian).
1976-1983: Whether it is changing tastes in Hollywood’s office suites or increasing openness among TV execs to present more innovative fare is hard to say, but offers giving Mancini greater flexibility and possibility begin to come from those purveyors of the “cool medium.” One quirky, compelling idea is for hosting The Mancini Generation, a colossal, multi-episode commitment with music material drawn from his entire catalogue. Anticipating reality TV by two generations, unique to each episode is a sequence of a college film student’s participation in taking a noted Mancini cut and conceiving, shooting and editing an experimental film based on the music and broadcast on the program.
Through this period, Mancini becomes increasingly involved with getting Chris, now in his twenties and himself possessed of no small musical talent, in the music business even enlisting his son in assisting him in composing opening themes for a few TV series including one based on H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man.
TV continues to seek the Mancini touch. A fife-and-drum minuteman march accompanies NBC’s 1976 presidential election year coverage and his urgent logo theme introduces their nightly news broadcast. And, within a decade, Mancini ditties accompany the “Viewer Mail” and other segments for the network’s Late Night with David Letterman and cannot be overlooked in his musical mark continued embedding in popular culture.
With a nod to the wide-spread popularization of African-American popular music, Mancini’s funk/disco-infused theme graces the black family sitcom What’s Happening! Alternately, his bluesy torch song theme colors The Blue Knight chronicling the adventures of a world-weary, middle-aged beat cop. His lofty theme for The Moneychangers sets a stately tone for the mini- series starring Kirk Douglas dealing with elite, unscrupulous banking industry power brokers. And the delicate, aloof scoring for the Paul Newman-directed chamber drama The Shadow Box hues the lives of three aging couples facing mortality head-on.
Throughout his heyday and on top of his myriad contributions to more than 100 films and/or television shows, Mancini’s devotion to cementing himself as an astute recording artist never flags, recording over 90 albums ranging from big band to light classical to pop. Mancini believes that music is not simply to be listened to and a reason why his records succeed better than those of other film composers lies in his exacting standards. Eight of these albums are certified gold (over a half million in sales) by the Recording Industry Association of America, making him a household name.
And if “Easy Listening” is usually a kiss of death for music snobs, Mancini’s songs become teflon staples of a mind-binding variety of recording artists in versions so wildly stylistic different from one another that it can make even the most unrepentant hipster take a listen, including: Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Paul Anka, Pat Boone, Anita Bryant, Eydie Gorme & Steve Lawrence, Trini Lopez, Johnny Mathis, Jerry Vale, Ray Conniff, Quincy Jones, the Lennon Sisters, The Lettermen, Herb Alpert, Sarah Vaughn, Shelly Manne, James Moody, Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz, Liberace, Tony Bennett, Julie London, Wayne Newton, Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Peggy Lee, and Lawrence Welk. Even Bob Dylan covers “Moon River” in some 1990 concerts and the Grateful Dead are inspired by Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” theme for their own composition, “Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks).”
The popularity of his albums spurs his draw as a concert performer. Much sought after for concerts, the affable maestro makes some 50 annual appearances the world over. Among the groups he conducts are the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. And he appears in command performances before Britain's Royal Family in 1966, 1980 and 1984.
Chris marries and becomes a father. But because Henry and Ginny want too give their son and his wife more space to grow his own career, they take their grandson in under their own roof and, with the help of a caregiver, provide a less hectic home for the baby.
Part Five: Chasing After Our Rainbow’s End — 1979-1994 (10 minutes)
Mancini and Edwards make amends, successfully reboot the Pink Panther series and go on to make a string of well-received box office hits including 10 (the Dudley Moore, Bo Derek middle aged angst comedy), Victor/Victoria (with Julie Andrews, Robert Preston and James Garner in the ultimate gender-bending farce that wins Mancini his final Best Score Oscar) and S.O.B. (another Andrews vehicle satirically chastising Hollywood cut-throat superficiality).
The TV production that makes the biggest popular splash is The Thorn Birds, a half-soap opera, half-Greek tragedy miniseries dramatizing 19th century Australian ranch life starring Barbara Stanwyck and Richard Chamberlain. Mancini’s two hours of music gesturing square dance two- steps help propel the serial to a ratings bonanza in receiving an Emmy Award nomination.
Ever the workman, Mancini reels out scores for a panoply of admired and/or forgotten projects during this stretch that call for a dizzying array of music—Silver Streak, House Calls, Angela, Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, The Prisoner of Zenda, Nightwing, Little Miss Marker, A Change of Seasons, Back Roads, Mommie Dearest, Second Thoughts, and The Man Who Loved Women to name some.
Despite the maturation of Mancini’s scores and his ability to sensitively heighten both narrative and character with humor and pathos, the lower profile nature of most of these films is, perhaps, a reflection of his diminishing stature in the eyes of the mega-budget extravaganzas. Where once Mancini was scoring those gigs, the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas projects are being nabbed by the next generation of film music maestros with John Williams leading the new vanguard.
Still, Mancini’s later projects continue to demonstrate an ever-blossoming artist even as the fare he is offered diminish in popular or critical impact. Perhaps the last of his finest works is for Paul Newman’s 1987 adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie starring Newman’s wife Joanne Woodward and an emerging John Malkovich. Here Mancini’s desultory parlor- tinged score captures the restricted circumstances of the landmark play’s entrapped characters.
Fate is always lurking and reveals itself with a cold hand. A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and swift decline result in the passing of a transformative figure in the arts and sciences of cinema. By all accounts Mancini faced his mortality with the grace and bravery he approached his life.
With a calm realism he wrote letters to his dearest friends with a simple message: “I’ve had a wonderful life.”
Rather fittingly, it was The Son of the Pink Panther (with Roberto Benigni playing the Clouseau role) that would be Mancini’s final project.
Yet, the Henry Mancini legacy has never dimmed.
The Henry Mancini Institute, an academy for young music professionals, is founded in 1996 and though it is not able to sustain itself, the American Society of Composers (ASCAP) inaugurates a still-thriving “Henry Mancini Music Scholarship” has been awarded annually since 2001. While still alive, Henry created a scholarship at UCLA and the bulk of his library and works are archived in the music library at UCLA.
The Henry Mancini Arts Academy opens in 2005 as a division of the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center. The Center is located in Midland, Pennsylvania, minutes away from Mancini's hometown of Aliquippa. The Henry Mancini Arts Academy is an evening-and-weekend performing arts program for children from pre-K to grade 12, with some classes also available for adults. The program includes dance, voice, musical theater, and instrumental lessons. How enticing it is to think that one day some of the recipients of the arts education provided by the Mancini Arts Academy will themselves reinvent their medium.
An orchestra comprised of members from the Henry Mancini Arts Academy performs a medley of the composer’s hallmark tunes: “Peter Gunn,” “The Pink Panther,” “Baby Elephant Walk,” and “Moon River.”