In 1962, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer received the "Academy Award for Best Song", "Moon River", from the 1961 motion picture "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
Mancini had started his motion picture music career as one of the composers, without on-screen credit, of several memorable pieces of music for "Universal International Pictures" classic 1950's Horror and Science Fiction movies.
This is a short look at his contribution to scaring the crap out of a pre-teen Lloyd!
Above, Henry Mancini in the "Music Department" of "Universal International Pictures" circa the 1950's.
A Brief Biography:
Enrico Nicola Mancini was born in the "Little Italy" neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, on April 16, 1924. According to his, June 15, 1994, "New York Times" obituary by Richard Severo, Henry Mancini, at the age of eleven, while the family now lived in West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, went to a local movie theater to see Cecil B. DeMille's 1935 "The Crusades".
Listening to the score composed by the uncredited, Rudolph G. Kopp, caused the young piccolo player to want to compose musical scores for motion pictures. He learned to play the piano and, still in high school, studied musical composition and arrangements at Pittsburgh's "Stanley Theatre (Benedum Center)" under conductor Max Atkins. Which led to composing for the theatre and an up-and-coming orchestra leader named Benny Goodman.
In 1942, Mancini was a music student at New York City's "Juilliard School", but in 1943 he enlisted in the "United States Army Air Forces" and met "Captain Glenn Miller", whose recommendation led to an assignment as part of the "28th Air Force Band". Two-years-later, he was reassigned to the "1306th Engineers Brigade", located in France, and helped liberate "Mauthausen-Gusen" concentration camp in Austria.
In 1946, the now
discharged Henry Mancini, became a pianist and music
arranger for the newly formed Jazz ensemble, the "Glenn
Miller Orchestra", under the leadership of Tex
Beneke, to keep Miller's memory alive.
This story now picks up in 1952, when Henry Mancini joined the "Universal International Pictures" music department.
Starting to Compose for the Movies:
Like all the motion picture studios, it was the head of each department that received the on-screen credit, and not necessarily those who performed the actual work. During the 1950's, for the "Universal International Pictures Music Department", that position was called, interchangeably, either the "Music Director", or "Music Supervisor".
The "Oxford Dictionary" defines the position as:
a professional hired to supervise and direct the music selected for a film
The "Music Director" for the studio at the time Henry Mancini started, was Joseph Gershenson. Both the "IMBd" and "Fandango" websites list him as the studio's "Music Director" since 1940.
However, what is interesting is Gershenson did not get his first "Universal Pictures Music Department" credit, until November 17, 1949, for the Tex Williams Western short, "Coyote Canyon". Which does not show him as either "Director" or Supervisor", but as the uncredited, "Joe Gershenson, Music arranger and conductor".
Prior to March 5, 1939, when "Universal Pictures" released the short, "Bank Notes", until after his death on March 2, 1950, with the April 27, 1950 release of Scott Brady's, "I Was a Shoplifter", the studio's "Music Director" was Milton Schwarzwald.
So, what was Joseph Gershenson really doing since 1940?
The answer was being either an "Associate Producer", "Producer", or "Executive Producer" on motion picture projects assigned to him by the studio and using the name of "Joseph G. Sanford".
Both Gershenson and Schwarzwald were friends, composers, but mostly written by Milton, and motion picture orchestra conductors. The two men worked together on short subjects made by small independent studios that were distributed by "RKO". The correct year that both men were hired, together, by "Universal Pictures" wasn't 1940, but mid-1939.
It appears both websites apparently overlooked Gershenson's studio assignments under the name of Joseph G. Sandord. His first motion picture work for "Universal Pictures" was the "B" Western, "West of Carson City", starring Johnny Mack Brown, released on January 19, 1940, with Joseph G. Sandford listed as the movie's "Producer"
In short, Joseph Gershenson apparently became the head of the "Music Department", because he used to conduct motion picture orchestras prior to 1939 and was available, on site, for a promotion after his friend's death.
All this being said, it was Joseph Gershenson that Henry Mancini reported too on his first day of work.
Look at almost every motion picture Mancini worked for Gershenson, and you will probably see the words: "Stock Music".
Which can also be known as "Production Music", or just "Library Music". This is music composed by someone within the "Music Department" for a specific motion picture, but can be licensed to somebody else for their use. As a result, some of the most recognizable pieces of Henry Mancini's work, during his time under Joseph Gershenson, appears in other motion pictures he had no connection with.
Depending on the motion picture, Henry Mancini would be credited as either under the "Music Department" reading "Henry Mancini: composer; stock music", or another heading reading "Music By".
The first designation could mean he worked on orchestrations of "Stock Music" and may not have composed new music, but blended selections of old music to fit scenes in the movie. It could also mean a composition by Henry Mancini was being used from the "Universal Pictures Library" in a picture he never worked upon.
While, the second designation meant Mancini either composed a major portion of original music, or rearranged music used in a specific motion picture.
"Meet Danny Wilson", released on April 1, 1952, starring Frank Sinatra, Shelley Winters, and Alex Nichol, and featuring Raymond Burr in one of his early mobster roles, was the first motion picture Henry Mancini worked upon.
Somebody in the publicity department was having an inside joke referring to Sinatra and Winters as "that DYNAMITE pair", because they hated each other and their fights during production become somewhat legendary.
The tag-line in the yellow circle on the above poster reads:
Frankie Sings 9 All-Time Favorite Song Hits!
None of the composers for those songs, or the titles are on the "Official Film Listing", but under the heading, "Music Department". There are nine uncredited names next to the words "stock music" including Henry Mancini. One of those other uncredited stock music composers was Miklos Rozsa, illustrating that even sections of "Oscar Winning Composers" music could be licensed to another studio as "stock music".
Science Fiction, Comedy Horror and Two Band Leaders 1953-1956:
Six motion pictures and a Walt Disney cartoon followed, before Henry Mancini's compositions entered the world of "Universal Science Fiction and Horror", but in two movies from a classic comedy duo.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS released on April 6, 1953
Let's get one thing straight, Bud and Lou never went to Mars, they went to Venus. Somebody at "Universal International Pictures", who obviously hadn't previewed the motion picture, or read the screenplay, thought Mars sounded better than Venus. Above, is one of the American posters and below is the Italian poster for the movie "Journey to the Planet Venus". Another point is that the Italian's renamed Bud Abbott as "Gianni" and Lou Costello as "Pinotto".
Above, Bud Abbott, Mari Blanchard as "Queen Allura of Venus", and Lou Costello.
There were three uncredited names under the heading of "Music By". The first was Henry Mancini, the second was Milton Rosen, 1951's "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man", 1952's "Meet Danny Wilson", and the comedy duo's "Lost in Alaska". The third was Herman Stein, both 1956's "I Lived Before" and "The Mole People", and 1957's "The Incredible Shrinking Man".
The "Music Department" heading shows Joseph Gershenson as "Musical Director" and with him are three other names:
The first was, Ethmer Roten, who would have a list of 795 motion pictures playing his flute between 1937, starting with Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", and ending with 2019's Walt Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story 4", released two months after his death. Roten was a founding member of Henry Mancini's orchestra.
Number two was Frank Skinner, who composed music for both 1939's "Son of Frankenstein" and "Tower of London", and 1940's "The Invisible Man Returns".
While the third was Alexandre aka: Alexander Tansman, he had only 18 films and 4 were foreign films. Tansman did score the Rosalind Russell 1946 "Sister Kenny" and the All-Star anthology picture, 1943's "Flesh and Fantasy".
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE premiered on August 12, 1953, in Los Angeles, California
The motion picture was the third in a series of four comedies with the boys taking on most of the "Universal" monsters, although "Dr. Jekyll" wasn't one of them. My article, "Abbott and Costello Meet the Universal Studio Classic Monsters" may be read at:
For this motion picture, not one member of the "Music Department", there were twelve uncredited employees including Henry Mancini listed, was shown as a single composer working for the credited Joseph Gershenson.
Henry Mancini's first "Music By" was in another Bud Abbott and Lou Costello feature film, the previously mentioned, "Lost in Alaska", released on August 13, 1952. However, the only on-screen credit went to Joseph Gershenson, but for this picture Mancini's credit was separate from those listed under "Music Department".
Recorded by the Universal-International studio orchestra, conducted by Joseph Gershenson.
Henry Mancini and Joseph Gershenson.
Above, one of the American posters for "The Creature from the Black Lagoon", and below the retitled "The woman and the monster" for Spain.
The motion picture again starred Richard Carlson, but co-starred Julia Adams before she changed her name to Julie Adams. The picture co-starred Richard Denning and my article, "Richard Denning, His Science Fiction and Horror Films", will be read at:
The second composer was Hans J. Salter, among his "Music By" compositions are 1940's "Black Friday", starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, 1940's "The Mummy's Hand", 1941's "The Black Cat", and 1942's "The Ghost of Frankenstein".
The "Music Department" with credited Joseph Gershenson had three people working on the picture. One was Ethmer Roten on the flute, and the other two were "Stock Music" employees, Robert Emmett Dolan, and Milton Rosen.
The motion picture has a group of scientists returning to the "Black Lagoon" on the "Rita 2" skippered by "Lucas", played by Nestor Paiva, the only returning character from the first motion picture to actually capture it.
The motion picture stars John Agar and Lori Nelson. My article, "John Agar His Fall That Led to Science Fiction Cult Status", is available for reading at:
Above John Agar speaks to an unknown, uncredited actor, named Clint Eastwood in his first on-screen appearance. It is Eastwood that this motion picture is most remembered for, and my article, "Clint Eastwood: 2 Monsters 2 Ghosts" will be found at:
Speaking of Henry Mancini, his only contribution to this motion picture was a revised version of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon Theme".
Above, the American poster for the motion picture, and below the German poster for the retitled "Metaluna 4 is not responding".
Next to Rex is Jeff Morrow, my article, "Jeff Morrow An Icon of 1950's Science Fiction: This Island Earth, KRONOS, and the Giant Claw" will be found at:
The music was again by the uncredited Henry Stein, Henry Mancini, and Hans J. Salter. Other than the credit going to Joseph Gershenson as "Music Supervisor". The only other member of the "Music Department" heard on the picture's musical score was the flute of Ethmer Roten.
However, another uncredited composer on the sound track was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for the use of "Eine kleine Nachmusik: 2nd movement". One wonders if he received a check from the studio payroll department?
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEETS THE MUMMY released on June 23, 1955
Music Recorded For The Sound Track Of The Universal-International Motion Picture
Back to "The Deadly Mantis":
The motion picture was directed by Nathan Juran an important Science Fiction and Horror director of the period. My article, "Nathan H. Juran: A Look at the Work of the Man Who was an Art Director for John Ford, Directed Live Action for Ray Harryhausen and Wrote Screenplays for Fess Parker", will be found at:
The "Music By" for "The Deadly Mantis" was from Irving Gertz and William Lava. The "Music Department" listed Henry Mancini and Ethmer Roten under "Music Supervisor" Joseph Gershenson, but there had to be a problem, illness perhaps? Because Gershenson was replaced by the uncredited Harris Ashburn during the production. and it carried into 1957's "The Incredible Shrinking Man". Ashburn's only other film work was as an actor in one forgotten movie.
I've mentioned two "Insect" movies in this article and for those interested in this type of Science Fiction Horror films. My article, "THEM!', 'TARANTULA', 'THE MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL', 'THE DEADLY MANTIS', 'THE BEGINNING OF THE END', 'THE BLACK SCORPION', and 'THE EARTH VS THE SPIDER': As the 1950's Insects that BUGGED America!", can be found, can of "Raid" is optional, at:
BEHIND A BARRIER OF ARTIC ICE...
This was the second "Universal International Pictures" movie to use the idea of "The Hollow Earth". The story even starts with actual footage of Admiral Byrd and his real search for that entrance at the South Pole. The first movie was in the introduction to, 1956 "The Mole People", but it's mentioned only in passing as compared to "Byrd's" search being the motivation for the Naval expedition in "The Land Unknown".
Uncredited Henry Mancini was the primary composer, but additional music was composed by the uncredited, Heinz Roemheld, Hans J. Salter, and Herman Stein. The listing for the "Music Department" showed Joseph Gershenson and Ethmer Roten as "a Musician" for the first time not mentioning his flute.
The basic plot line of this excellent little science fiction story is don't put the rocks you find in water, because they may be space rocks that grow and multiply. Sounds silly, but this screenplay keeps the viewer engrossed.
Above, Grant Williams, 1957's "The Incredible Shrinking Man", and Lola Albright, "Edie Hart" on "Peter Gunn" 1958-1961. Below, Grant Williams and Les Tremayne, 1953's "War of the Worlds" and 1959's "The Monster of Piedras Blancas".
The music again was by the uncredited team of Henry Mancini, Irving Gertz, and Herman Stein. While, the "Music Department" had credited Joseph Gershenson as the "Music Supervisor", with the uncredited William Lava, David Tamkin, Ethmer Roten and flute, and as an "orchestrator", Charles Maxwell.
I take a break from Science Fiction and Horror, although how do you define Horror?
This is one of Orson Welles' masterpieces, written and director by the actor, with that famous opening tracking shot!
Above right, Charlton Heston, my apparently controversial article, "CHARLTON HESTON: The Original "INDIANA JONES" may peak you interest at:
Probably very happy that he received no credit for scoring this talk feast was Henry Mancini.
From the "Music Department", Gertz, Salter, and Stein's old music from other films were combined to off-set Mancini's original score under the instruction of "Music Supervisor" Gershenson.
MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS released on December 17, 1958
That "primitive fish's" blood turns Arthur Franz into the title character.
Now an independent composer, Henry Mancini met producer and director Blake Edwards. He moved first to television and composed all the music for Edwards new series, 114 episodes of "Peter Gun", 1958-1961, in 1959 he composed all the music for Blake Edward's television series, "Mr. Lucky", 1959-1961, in 1961 Henry Mancini composed the film score for Blake Edwards "Breakfast at Tiffany". Which returns me to the start of this article and "Moon River".