Henry Mancini wrote some of the coolest film and TV scores of all time. His jazzy themes and strings-heavy ballads defined movie music in the 1960s, and they're endlessly hum-along-able.
Battlefield heroes, explorers who traversed the uncharted West, an author who delighted generations of children, and legends from the arts and entertainment world - like conductor and composer Henry Mancini seen on this 37-cent stamp, are among those being honored with postage stamps in 2004. (AP Photo/USPS)
Today would have been Mancini's 88th birthday. Tap your feet to the smooth sounds of some of his greatest compositions.
Let’s begin with a TV classic. After spending six years writing movie music at Universal, Mancini decided to go out on his own. His big break came in 1958 when he was asked to write music for a new private eye show. Mancini’s gritty, driving theme is immediately recognizable. And his work on Peter Gunn marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the show’s creator, director Blake Edwards.
Mancini and Edwards would go on to collaborate on 30 films in just over three decades. In 1961 came Breakfast at Tiffany's and "Moon River." Mancini’s simple, haunting ballad won an Oscar, and captured the hearts of anyone who wasn't already in love with Audrey Hepburn.
1962’s Days of Wine and Roses starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, and earned Mancini another Oscar for the string-drenched title song.
And last, but not least, the Mancini tune practically every man, woman and child knows (even if they don’t know who wrote it)… the theme from The Pink Panther.
Written by Linnea Crowther and Jessica Campbell