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Henry Mancini: The Pink Panther Theme

The “cat” Mancini refers to in his little intro is sax player Don Menza. He played a key role in one of the most recognizable opening passages in American musical history. Life is full of ironies: Menza’s son, Nick, was the drummer in Megadeth.

From the bio of Mancini at iMDB:

Success with The Glenn Miller Story (1954) allowed him to score many other films, helping along the way to change the style of film background music by injecting jazz into the traditional orchestral arrangements of the 1950s. He was nominated for 18 Oscars and won four; in addition, he won 20 Grammys and 2 Emmys, made over 50 albums and had 500 works published. Mancini collaborated extensively with Blake Edwards — firstly on TV’s “Peter Gunn” (1958), then on Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which won him two Oscars; he won further Oscars for the titles song for Days of Wine and Roses (1962) and the score for Victor Victoria (1982); he will be best-remembered for the theme tune for The Pink Panther (1963).

Whether you are aware of it or not, you are familiar with Mancini. He was all over the place from the 1960s until the 1980s. Here are the Peter Gunn Theme, Moon River (with Andy Williams)Baby Elephant Walk, the theme from the television show Newhart and the opening scene of Orson Wells’ classic A Touch of Evil. The movie is a great example of the iMDB’s point that Mancini used jazz in film scores. In addition to being great, Mancini was almost unbelievably prolific.