Born in Queens, New York at the height of the Jazz Age, Mulligan and his family never stayed in one location for too long. In fact, throughout his childhood, Mulligan lived in various cities throughout New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It was his nanny, however, who first introduced Mulligan to music. She had a player piano and Mulligan would often sneak away to toy around with it. When he was 14, Mulligan's family moved once again to Reading, PA. By this time the musically-inclined Mulligan had learned how to play the saxophone and had become quite good at it. He became such an accomplished player that Mulligan would often ditch high school to play in professional dance bands in nearby Philadelphia. During his senior year Mulligan dropped out of high school to take a job making $100 a week with a Philadelphia-based touring band. The experience took Mulligan to New York City in 1946, where he played baritone saxophone in legendary jazzman Miles Davis' band, before he permanently settled in California in 1952. Shortly after his arrival, however, Mulligan was put in prison for possession of heroin (he eventually kicked his heroin habit years later). Upon his release, Mulligan continued to perform in jazz groups, most notably with the respected trumpeter Chet Baker, and over the next several decades became an influential figure in the burgeoning West Coast jazz scene. In addition to his work as a performer, Mulligan also supplied music to numerous films, including Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992), Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives," and "L.A. Confidential," while also composing the scores to "Les petites galères" (1977) and "I'm Not Rappaport," among others. By the time of his death from liver cancer in 1996, Mulligan's legacy had already been cemented, and several of his personal items and instruments were given to the Library of Congress for his numerous contributions to American jazz.
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