In previous posts I have admitted to embarrassment over not knowing about some pretty prominent Cleveland local history, but this upcoming post is particularly humbling not only from a Cleveland perspective, but my native Maple Heights as well.
I am a member of the “You know you are from Maple Heights..." Facebook page. Right before the holidays a post came through with what I consider to be a bombshell of a revelation that I was never even remotely aware of: Henry Mancini himself was born in Maple Heights in April of 1924.
I came to realize that the post came about because in 2024, it becomes the 100th anniversary of his birth, which is always noteworthy.
Born Enrico Nicola Mancini to Italian immigrant parents, who moved from Maple Heights to West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, young Henry’s interest in music began at age eight when he began learning to play the piccolo.
Honestly, it does not even really matter that hardly any of his achievements were accomplished during his short time in Maple Heights. What I find interesting is that Maple Heights, at least to my knowledge, has never laid claim to being the birthplace of this entertainment legend.
Mancini’s career spanned an amazing 70 years, right up until the time of his passing in 1994 from pancreatic cancer. At the time, he was working on the music for a stage adaptation of Victor/Victoria, which he never got to see on stage.
He also had a memorable off-camera cameo on the hit show Fraser shortly before his death. The show was famous for “call-in” cameos by entertainment, sports, and other icons to Fraser’s radio talk show. Mancini’s was as a caller named “Al," who did not like the sound of his own voice.
His accomplishments in the world of music and entertainment are way too numerous to list in a short post such as this, but just a partial list of those in music who have recorded his music include Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Jack Jones, Anita Bryant, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Eydie Gorm é, Steve Lawrence, Ray Conniff, The Lennon Sisters, Herb Alpert, Sarah Vaughan... and the list goes on and on.
From film scores and album recordings to even conducting over six hundred orchestra performances, Mancini truly had a remarkable career as a multi-talented performer and entertainer. And who could forget his jazzy creations for his collaborations with Blake Edwards for the Pink Panther movies? His music so accurately captured the cool that was and remains to this day the Pink Panther.
So I guess you can see why his humble beginning in little old Maple Heights, Ohio is gaining momentum as a true source of pride. It was even discussed in the members-only Facebook page the possibility of adding to the "Welcome to Maple Heights" signs to include a note about it being the birthplace of one Enrico Nicola Mancini, otherwise known as Henry to his friends.