Mitch Leigh, the Tony-winning composer of Man of La Mancha, died in Manhatan on March 16, according to The New York Times. The former commercial jingle writer, who penned the iconic song, "The Impossible Dream,” was 86.
Born Irwin Michnick in Brooklyn on January 30, 1928, Leigh graduated from Yale University in 1951 with a B.A. in music. He went on to get a Master’s degree, and then began his career as a jazz musician and writer of jingles for radio and television. He teamed up with scribe Dale Wasserman and lyricist Joe Darion to adapt Wasserman’s play I, Don Quixote into a musical. The result was the enduring Man of La Mancha, which garnered five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and one for Leigh’s score in 1965. Since then the musical has had four more Broadway outings; the last one was in 2002 and starred Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Leigh’s other Broadway writing credits include writing Cry for Us All in 1970, Home Sweet Homer in 1976, Sarava in 1979, Chu Chem in 1989, and his most recent offering, Ain’t Broadway Grand in 1993. He produced the 1983 production of Mame, starring Angela Lansbury, and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1985 for directing Yul Brynner in The King and I. Leigh continued to work in advertising. His most famous jingle is "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee."
Leigh is survived by his wife, Abby Kimmelman, and three children, Andy, Rebecca and David.