Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini (1924-1994)

Enrico Nicola “Henry” Mancini was born on April 16, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio. He grew up in the western Pennsylvanian town of West Aliquippa, about 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Apropos of nothing, my research reveals an astonishing number of high-end professional athletes hail from “greater” Aliquippa, including Jon Baldwin (National Football League/NFL); Tommie Campbell (NFL); Mike Ditka (NFL); Tony Dorsett (NFL); Tito Francona (Major League Baseball/MLB); Sean Gilbert (NFL); Nate Guenin (National Hockey League/NHL); Frank Hriber (NFL); Ty Law (NFL); Pete Maravich (National Basketball Association/NBA); Doc Medich (MLB); Paul Posluszny (NFL); Darrelle Revis (NFL); and Pete Suder (MLB).

We might wonder whether there was something “in the water”, though that water was probably badly tainted by the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company mill that was the town’s primary source of employment. (Steel towns. By their nature, they are filled with big, brawny men who make big, brawny sons, many of them desperate to avoid the fate of their fathers! No wonder so many professional football players hailed from Aliquippa!)

Henry Mancini circa 1926
Henry Mancini circa 1926

There can be no doubt that Henry Mancini’s father wanted something better for his son. Having emigrated from the Italian mountain town of Scanno, in Abruzzo as a teenager, Quintiliano “Quinto” Mancini was a laborer at the Jones and Laughlin mill. Mancini’s mother Anna Mancini (née Pece) had also emigrated from Italy, coming to the United States as an infant from the central Italian comune (municipality) of Forlì del Sannio.

Despite his own humble beginnings, Mancini’s father Quinto was fiercely ambitious for his son, who he wanted to attend college and go on to a career in teaching. However, when the young Henry showed an interest in music, it was lessons he got, in both piano and flute.…

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