Rest in Peace, Composer Johnny Mandel (‘M*A*S*H’ Theme Song ‘Suicide is Painless,’ Among Many Other Works): 1925-2020


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Johnny Mandel, acclaimed composer/arranger known for a variety of timeless works, has died at the age of 94, it was announced late Monday.

Mandel’s daughter, Marissa, confirmed the news to the New York Times.

Musician/signer Michael Feinstein, longtime friend and collaborator of Johnny Mandel, sent a heartfelt remembrance to Mandel on social media on Monday:

A dear friend and extraordinary composer arranger and all-around brilliant talent Johnny Mandel just passed away. The world will never be quite the same without his humor, wit and wry view of life and the human condition. He was truly beyond compare, and nobody could write or arrange the way he did. Lord will we miss him. Let’s celebrate him with his music! He would like that.

Among the many accomplishments from Johnny Mandel over the years was the writing of “Suicide is Painless,” the theme song to the film and television series M*A*S*H:

Here’s an insightful look at what went into that song becoming the show’s theme song:

A bit more on Mandel’s extensive work with television, via Variety‘s retrospective look at his career:

In 1970 he scored “MASH,” which required a song that he cobbled together from a lyric by director Robert Altman’s 15-year-old son Michael. That tune, “Suicide Is Painless,” later became, in instrumental form, the theme for the long-running TV series and one of his most famous works.

His later film scores included “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams,” “The Last Detail,” “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea,” “Agatha” (including the song “Close Enough for Love,” now a standard), “Being There,” “Caddyshack,” “Deathtrap” and “The Verdict.”

In addition to the theme from “MASH,” he composed the themes for TV’s “Banyon” and “Too Close for Comfort” as well as scores for such series as “Markham” and “Chrysler Theatre.” He earned Emmy nominations for his 1980s TV-movie scores “A Letter to Three Wives,” “LBJ: The Early Years” and “Foxfire.” His other telefilms as composer included “Evita Peron,” “Christmas Eve” and “Kaleidoscope.”

May Johnny Mandel rest in peace.


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