Chicago Sun-Times

Os­car win­ner wrote theme to ‘MASH’

JOHNNY MAN­DEL | 1925-2020

- BY HILLEL ITALIE AP Na­tional Writer Entertainment · Musicians · Celebrities · Movies · Music · M*A*S*H · New York City · Ojai, CA · California · Count Basie · Johnny Mercer · National Endowment for the Arts · Barbra Streisand · Tony Bennett · Elizabeth Taylor · Sage Francis · The Beatles · Robert Altman · Alan Alda · Johnny Mandel · Frank Sinatra · Natalie Cole · MASH · Ojai · ASCAP · Paul Williams · Sid Caesar · Alan and Marilyn Bergman · Richard Burton · Paul Francis Webster

NEW YORK — Johnny Man­del, the Os­car- and Grammy-win­ning com­poser, ar­ranger and mu­si­cian who worked on al­bums by Frank Si­na­tra, Natalie Cole and many others and whose song­writ­ing cred­its in­cluded “The Shadow of Your Smile” and the theme from the film and TV show “M*A*S*H,” has died. He was 94.

Mr. Man­del died Mon­day of a car­diac ail­ment at his home in Ojai, Cal­i­for­nia, ac­cord­ing to Lau­ren Iossa, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer of ASCAP. Mr. Man­del served on the ASCAP board of di­rec­tors from 1989-2011.

“Gi­ant. Ge­nius. Gen­tle­man. There are many ways to de­scribe the leg­endary com­poser Johnny Man­del,” ASCAP Chair­man and Pres­i­dent Paul Wil­liams said in trib­ute.

Mr. Man­del was among the last of the great song­writ­ers to emerge in the pre-rock ’n’ roll era, his ca­reer dat­ing back to the 1940s. He played trom­bone and trum­pet with such big band and jazz artists as Jimmy Dorsey and Count Basie and spent two years in the 1950s ar­rang­ing mu­sic for Sid Cae­sar’s land­mark TV sketch pro­gram “Your Show of Shows.” He col­lab­o­rated on songs with Johnny Mer­cer, Paul Wil­liams and the hus­band and wife team Alan and Mar­i­lyn Bergman.

He even worked on sound­track for “Cad­dyshack.”

“I don’t have a method or a style, and I never wanted one,” Mr. Man­del said dur­ing a 2010 in­ter­view with The Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts, which the fol­low­ing year gave him a Jazz Masters award for lifetime achieve­ment. “Some guys really try to have a style. I just work with what’s there and try to do the best with what’s there.”

In re­cent years, he con­trib­uted ar­range­ments for Streisand’s “Love Is the An­swer” and Tony Ben­nett’s “The Art of Ro­mance.” Decades ear­lier, Ben­nett sang a the mem­o­rable cover of “The Shadow of Your Smile,” the theme from the Richard Bur­ton-El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor movie “The Sand­piper.” The Man­del-Paul Fran­cis Web­ster bal­lad won a Grammy in 1966 for song of the year, top­ping the Bea­tles’ “Yes­ter­day” among others, and re­ceived an Os­car for best orig­i­nal song.

His most widely heard com­po­si­tion was likely “Sui­cide is Pain­less,” the droll theme from Robert Alt­man’s Korean War satire “M*A*S*H,” and later for the hit TV show that starred Alan Alda. In a 2008 in­ter­view with the blog Jaz­zWax, Mr. Man­del ex­plained that Alt­man had asked him to come up with a song and made two re­quests: Call it “Sui­cide is Pain­less” and make it as stupid as pos­si­ble.

“I said to my­self, ‘Well I can do stupid,’” Mr. Man­del re­called, adding that Alt­man brought in ex­tra help for the lyrics.

“Bob was going to take a shot at the lyrics. But he came back two days later and said, ‘I’m sorry but there’s just too much stuff in this 45-year-old brain. I can’t write any­thing nearly as stupid as what we need.’ Bob said, ‘All is not lost. I’ve got a 15-year-old kid who’s a to­tal idiot.’ So Michael Alt­man, at age 15, wrote the lyrics, and then I wrote the mu­sic to them.”

 ?? CHARLES SYKES/AP ?? Johnny Man­del worked on the sound­track for “Cad­dyshack.”
CHARLES SYKES/AP Johnny Man­del worked on the sound­track for “Cad­dyshack.”

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