A prolific, versatile American composer with a background in swing and jazz, Mandel has been active in films and TV since the 1950s. He began as a trombonist and trumpet player for a number of bands in the 1940s, working under such notables as Count Basie, Buddy Rich and Jimmy Dorsey, and later proved his gifts as a music arranger for Artie Shaw. Mandel created his first major score for a feature film with the vivid, violent jazz backgrounds underscoring Robert Wise's take on the Barbara Graham capital punishment biopic, "I Want to Live!" (1958). He has worked with such feature directors as Norman Jewison ("The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" 1966), Hal Ashby (on three films including "The Last Detail" 1973 and "Being There" 1979) and Sidney Lumet ("Deathtrap" and "The Verdict," both 1982). Mandel also won an Oscar for the well-remembered romantic song "The Shadow of Your Smile" from the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton-Eva Marie Saint triangle "The Sandpiper" (1965).
Mandel began working regularly for television in the mid-1960s; over the years he has composed for many TV-movies ("The Trackers" 1971; "Single Women, Married Men" (1989), pilots ("Guilty or Not Guilty" 1966; "Call Holme" 1972) and specials. He has also written music for series including "Jack and Mike" and "Too Close for Comfort." Mandel received Emmy nominations for musical scoring three years in a row for his work on "A Letter to Three Wives" (1985/86), "LBJ: The Early Years" (1986/87) and "Foxfire" (1987/88). Probably his best-remembered work on TV was for the long-running CBS series "M*A*S*H," especially his adaptation of the haunting theme song, "Suicide Is Painless," which he originally wrote for Robert Altman's 1970 feature film of the same name.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Sound (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Special)
Music (TV Mini-Series)
Played trumpet for Joe Venturi
Moved to L.A.
Worked as music arranger on the feature, "You're Never Too Young"
First film score, "I Want to Live!"
Earned a Best Song Academy Award for "The Shadow of Your Smile", the theme from "The Sandpiper"
Received a second Oscar nomination for the song "A Time for Love" from the film, "An American Dream", again in collaboration with lyricist Paul Francis Webster
Wrote the score for Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H", including the song "Suicide Is Painless" (used as the theme for the subsequent CBS spin-off series)
Last feature score for five years, "Gremlins", directed by Joe Dante
Received first Emmy nomination for his scoring of the TV-movie remake, "A Letter to Three Wives"
One-shot return to feature film scoring, "Brenda Starr"
Appeared in the PBS documentary bio, "Shirley Horn, Here's to Life", for which he also served as music producer, arranger and conductor
Served as a music consultant for the music compilation documentary, "A Great Day in Harlem"