Johnny Mandel, 'MASH' Theme Composer and Oscar Winner, Dead at 94

Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Johnny Mandel has died at the age of 94. While Mandel was known for many pieces of work, he was especially known for composing the theme for the hit series M*A*S*H. While the details of his death have not been revealed thus far, his daughter Melissa confirmed his death to The New York Times.

One of his dear friends and fellow musician, Michael Feinstein, announced the news as well on Facebook. "A dear friend and extraordinary composer-arranger and all-around brilliant talent Johnny Mandel just passed away," Feinstein wrote according to Deadline. "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 with his music! He would like that."

Other notable figures also took to social media to mourn the loss of one of their favorites. Michael Bublé mourned him on Twitter writing, "I was so sad to learn that a hero of mine, Johnny Mandel, passed away. He was a genius and one of my favorite writers, arrangers, and personalities. He was a beast."

"Suicide Is Painless" became the theme song for Robert Altman's M*A*S*H movie and TV series. The song was eventually covered by the Manic Street Preachers and released as a single in 1992, making it number seven on the UK Singles Chart. Mandel was born in New York in 1925 and quickly became one of the best arrangers of the second half of the 20th century, working with other big names in the music industry like Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole and Hoagy Carmichael. Before making it in Hollywood, he performed in a number of bands before he started composing.


As a young teen, Mandel played the trumpet and quickly became fascinated with different sounds of bands and musicians he listened to in the 1930s and '40s. He then started working with top arranger Van Alexander — someone he always credited for helping launch his career. He then broke into the industry of composing for movies in the 1960s. He landed more than 30 films during his career, including The Americanization of Emily; The Sandpiper; The Shadow of Your Smile; Harper, An American Dream; The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming; and Point Blank.