Henry Mancini (April 16, 1924 – June 14, 1994), was an Academy Award winning American composer and arranger. He is remembered particularly for being a composer of film and television scores, and won a record number of Grammy awards (including a "Lifetime Achievement" award in 1995).
He was born Enrico Nicola Mancini in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
Although he was drafted into the Army during World War II, Mancini was able to get a transfer from the infantry to the band. The compositions for which he is best known include "Moon River" (the theme song from the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's), and the theme music for the 1963 films The Pink Panther and Charade. Interestingly, he also wrote a score for the Alfred Hitchcock film Frenzy (1972) that was ultimately rejected.
He is sometimes assumed to have composed the music for the Peanuts movies, the well-known theme "Linus and Lucy" in particular. However, these songs were composed and performed by another esteemed jazz pianist, Vince Guaraldi. Although much of Mancini's work can be classified as easy listening, he was capable of writing powerful and rousing scores such as that for Lifeforce.
Two of his earliest scores were for the TV shows, Peter Gunn (1958) and Mr. Lucky (1959). A notable addition later in his career was the theme song to the sitcom Newhart (1982), as well as the music to the 1986 Disney blockbuster The Great Mouse Detective. Mancini also composed the theme music for the 1990 revival of the game show Tic Tac Dough.
He died at age 70 in Beverly Hills, California of pancreatic cancer.
Mancini won a total of four Oscars for his music in the course of his career. He was first nominated for an Academy Award for his original score of The Glenn Miller Story, on which he collaborated with Joseph Gershenson, in 1955, losing out to Adolph Deutsch and Saul Chaplin's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 1962 he was next 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.