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“Suicide Is (Not) Painless” – Bio

“Suicide Is Painless
Written by Johnny Mandel (music) and Mike Altman (lyrics),
Theme song for both the movie and TV series M*A*S*H

“Suicide Is (Not) Painless” – Note

Mike Altman is the son of the original film’s director, Robert Altman, and was 14 years old when he wrote the song’s lyrics.

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Robert Altman had two stipulations about the song for Mandel: first, it had to be called “Suicide Is Painless”; second, it had to be the “stupidest song ever written”.

Altman tried to write the lyrics himself, but found that it was too difficult for his 45-year-old brain to write “stupid enough”.

Instead he gave the task to his 14-year-old-son, Michael, who wrote the lyrics in five minutes.

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During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in the 1980s, Robert Altman said that while he only made $70,000 for having directed the movie, his son (Mike) had earned more than $1 million for having co-written the song.

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