By Hugh Hart
Henry Mancini’s original score was retrieved from UCLA Library Special Collections for Hollywood Bowl “symphonic” screening.
Usually, Henry Mancini’s hand-written score for The Pink Panther sits in a temperature-controlled room deep within the recesses of an earthquake-resistant building at UCLA. But on Wednesday, August 8, the jaunty jazz that Mancini created to accompany Inspector Clouseau’s zany antics in the 1964 comedy came to life in the balmy confines of the Hollywood Bowl. There, for the West Coast premiere of The Pink Panther — in Concert, the L.A. Phil performed note-for-note recreations of the theme, working with sheet music copied from the original documents archived at UCLA Library Special Collections.
Peggy Alexander, performing arts curator for Library Special Collections, says, “The whole point behind our special collections department is that we collect archival materials, preserve them and make them available to anyone who wants to use them.”
Producers of The Pink Panther — in Concert wanted to present the music exactly as Mancini orchestrated it, but initially, didn’t know where to find the original score. Mancini’s daughter Monica and his widow Ginny eventually steered them to the “Henry Mancini Collection, 1955–1969” at UCLA. There, the producers found the yellowing pages of Mancini’s score. Robert Thompson, president of concert production company Schirmer Theatrical, told the Los Angeles Times, “We put on the white gloves, and there, sitting among Italian and French Renaissance manuscripts, was the original score… Hank had taken meticulous notes. There was actually a guidebook to the score itself.”
Before his death in 1994, Mancini donated most of his papers to UCLA, where they joined the work of Alfred Hitchcock’s go-to composer Bernard Hermann and 15-time Oscar nominee Alex North. Stored in acid-free boxes, Mancini’s archive includes music manuscripts and cue sheets for 18 movies, along with the typescript of his 1962 essay “Sounds and Scores.”
Though he did not attend UCLA, former Juilliard student Mancini forged a close relationship with the university by 1971, when he won an honorary alumnus award. The UCLA Department of Music now supervises the Mancini Studio, which serves as recording space and composer space in Schoenberg Music Building.
Mancini’s work continues to flourish — The Pink Panther theme alone has racked up millions of views on YouTube — but when it comes to analog authenticity, nothing beats the original artifact. By entrusting his most prized paperwork to UCLA, Mancini and his family ensured that his legacy would be preserved and accessible to scholars and music fans of the future. Curator Alexander explains, “All the boxes are bar-coded and tied to the library catalog, so if you’re a researcher, you can go to the Online Archive of California. You look up the Mancini papers, then go to ‘Pink Panther,’ which tells you what box it’s in. Using our online paging system, you can just click on a button and request to see items to page that box from storage.”
Those fortunate enough to have attended the Hollywood Bowl performance can rest assured of the music’s authenticity.