The CBS News and CBS Sports teams lost a beloved member of their family this past Friday when Leonard “Lenny” Mancini passed away.
He was only 64 years old.
Mancini was the lighting director for 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, and The NFL Today and worked with the likes of Andy Rooney, Dan Rather, James Brown, Ed Bradley, Lesley Stahl, Tim Brando, Jane Pauley, Scott Pelley, Bill Whitaker, and Anderson Cooper.
Mancini is credited with perfecting studio lighting, leading 60 Minutes executive producer Bill Owens to describe his work as “a look that was sharp, yet cool (color wise) and elegant. He could move a studio light ¾ of a centimeter, and a shadow would disappear. He was a perfectionist. He worked with his hands and was proud of his craft.”
Mancini joined CBS in January 1975 at the tender age of 16. He became a stagehand in Studio 46, working alongside his father, who was the head carpenter.
Mancini transitioned to lightning, working as an apprentice under many CBS lighting designers, which enabled him to rise to the role of lighting director of The NFL Today in 1984.
A few years later, he was elevated to lighting director for 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning.
Mancini is survived by his wife, Mindy, and their six children.
Tributes to his passing aired on 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, and The NFL Today.
Below is a note from Peggy Eng, CBS News director, reflecting on Mancini’s passing.
Sadly, the crew in 33 suffered a big loss last week. Our friend and colleague Lenny Mancini died on Friday. He was 64 years old.
It’s sometime said the best start young. Lenny began working at CBS in 1975, at the age of 16. He was then a stagehand in Studio 46, where his father was the head carpenter. Studio 46 was one of the original stages used to shoot 60 Minutes. On some days young Lenny found himself “flipping the letters” to create the effect for the mail segment.
In the years to follow, Lenny apprenticed with many of the “old hand” CBS lighting designers. By 1984 he was the Lighting Director for The NFL Today. A few years later he became the regular LD (lighting director) for 60 Minutes.
Lenny brought a skilled, creative eye to his work. He was an able and willing collaborator with many CBS directors, scenic artists, makeup artists and video operators. He understood the importance of supporting the editorial content with the best visual presentation.
Lenny’s talents were in such demand, that he often defied time and space by working on more than one broadcast at a time.
Lenny shined brightly. He was a significant presence: boisterous, physically imposing, opinionated -he carried himself with great charm and a warm heart. Once you met Lenny, he was unforgettable. His friends in Control Room 33, and throughout the Broadcast Center, miss him already.