Johnny Mandel

John Alfred Mandel (born November 23, 1925) is an American composer and arranger of popular songs, film music and jazz. Among the musicians he has worked with are Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Anita O'Day, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Diane Schuur and Shirley Horn.

Johnny Mandel
Birth nameJohn Alfred Mandel
Born (1925-11-23) November 23, 1925
New York City, New York, U.S.
GenresPop, film music, jazz, folk song
Occupation(s)Composer, arranger
Years active1938–present
Associated actsWoody Herman, Count Basie

Mandel has composed, conducted and arranged the music for numerous movie sound tracks. His earliest credited contribution was to I Want to Live! in 1958, which was nominated for a Grammy.

Mandel's most famous compositions include "Suicide Is Painless"[1] (theme from the movie and TV series M*A*S*H), "Close Enough for Love", "Emily" and "A Time for Love" (nominated for an Academy Award). He has written numerous film scores, including the score of The Sandpiper. The love theme for that film, "The Shadow of Your Smile", which he co-wrote with Paul Francis Webster, won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1966.


He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School. In 1943 he played the trumpet with Joe Venuti, in 1944 with Billy Rogers and trombone in the bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, Georgie Auld and Chubby Jackson. In 1949 he accompanied the singer June Christy in the orchestra of Bob Cooper. From 1951 until 1953 he played and arranged music in Elliot Lawrence's orchestra, and in 1953 with Count Basie. Later he resided in Los Angeles, where he played the bass trumpet for Zoot Sims.

A 1944 Band graduate of New York Military Academy, in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, he wrote jazz compositions including "Not Really the Blues" for Woody Herman in 1949, "Hershey Bar" (1950) and "Pot Luck" (1953) for Stan Getz, "Straight Life" (1953) and "Low Life" (1956) for Count Basie, as well as "Tommyhawk" (1954) for Chet Baker.

He performed an interpretation of Erik Satie's "Gnossiennes #4 and #5" on the piano for the 1979 film Being There.

He won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) in 1981 for Quincy Jones's song Velas, and again in 1991 for Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable", and one year later once more for Shirley Horn's album Here's to Life.

In 2004, Mandel arranged Tony Bennett's album The Art of Romance. Bennett and Mandel had collaborated before on Bennett's The Movie Song Album (1966), for which Mandel arranged and conducted his songs "Emily" and "The Shadow of Your Smile", and was also the album's musical director.


John Alfred Mandel was born in New York on November 23, 1925.[2] His parents were Alfred, a garment manufacturer, and Hannah, an opera singer, who discovered her son had perfect pitch at the age of five.[3] Mandel was subsequently given piano lessons, but switched to the trumpet and later the trombone.[3]

Mandel married Lois Lee in 1959,[4] and Martha Blanner in 1972,[5] and has a daughter, Marissa, born in 1976.[6] Mandel is also the cousin of the late fellow film composer, Miles Goodman.[7][8]


In 2018, Mandel received The Grammy Trustees Award, which is awarded by The Recording Academy to "individuals who, during their careers in music, have made significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording".

Mandel received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music in 1993.

Mandel is a recipient of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award.[9]

Johnny Mandel, A Man and His Music, featuring The DIVA Jazz Orchestra and vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway was recorded live at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in May 2010, released by Arbors Records in March 2011.[10]

Selected works




Johnny Mandel composed and/or arranged music for the following motion pictures or television programs:


See also


  2. Strunk, Steven (2003), Mandel, Johnny [John Alfred], Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.J286900
  3. Aswad, Jem. "ASCAP Henry Mancini Award Honoring Johnny Mandel". Archived from the original on April 10, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  4. California, Marriage Index, 1949–1959, a subscription site. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  5. California, Marriage Index, 1960–1985, a subscription site. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  6. Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music. 28. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale. 2000. ISBN 978-0787632533.
  7. "Miles Goodman, 47, Composer for Films". The New York Times. August 20, 1996. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  8. Jablon, Robert (August 18, 1996). "Miles Goodman, Film Composer and Jazz Record Producer, Dies". Associated Press. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  9. National Endowment for the Arts (January 4, 2011). "National Endowment for the Arts Announces Live Webcast of 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony & Concert on January 11, 2011". Washington: National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  10. DIVA: Sherrie Maricle. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
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