20 Super Facts About the Philadelphia Eagles

Al Bello, Getty Images
Al Bello, Getty Images

The Eagles are back. Super Bowl-bound for the first time in 13 years, the City of Brotherly Love is counting the seconds until Sunday's opening kickoff. Philly’s resident NFL club has yet to feather its nest with a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but then again, can you name another football team whose fight song popped up in the Star Wars universe? Swoop on over for more facts about this signature franchise.

1. A NEW DEAL PROGRAM INSPIRED THE TEAM’S NAME.

NRA eagle poster displayed by businesses to show support for government program - NARA
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

From 1924 to 1931, the Philadelphia area had an NFL team called the Frankford Yellow Jackets. After they folded, another club was established by league veteran Lud Wray and businessman Bert Bell. Their new franchise played its first game in 1933—the same year that saw Franklin Roosevelt create the National Recovery Administration. This New Deal agency enforced industry codes that were designed to set minimum wages, promote union membership, and encourage fair competition. The NRA’s emblem was a blue eagle carrying a gear and three bolts of lightning. Taking a cue from this symbol, Wray and Bell decided to name their team “The Philadelphia Eagles.”

2. THE NFL DRAFT WAS THEIR CO-FOUNDER’S IDEA.

In 1935, Bell—a future NFL commissioner—came up with the idea for a draft, the NFL's main talent-recruitment system, and proposed it at a league meeting. The first NFL Draft was held in 1936. Before the draft, it had been standard practice for teams to negotiate with college players directly. As a result, the most in-demand stars almost always joined the richest, most successful franchises. Bell convinced his fellow owners to implement a draft, whereby the NFL teams would take turns selecting athletes from a pool of eligible players. For fairness’ sake, it was decided that, in each draft, the worst team of the preceding NFL season would get to choose first.

3. PHILLY PLAYED IN THE FIRST TELEVISED NFL GAME.

On October 22, 1939, the Eagles lost to the Brooklyn Football Dodgers (a club which no longer exists) by a final score of 23-14. NBC sent an eight-man crew to film the contest, which was broadcast on one of the network’s New York City affiliates. Roughly 500 New Yorkers tuned in to watch the game. Altogether, the broadcast lasted for two hours and 33 minutes. There were no commercial interruptions.

4. IN 1943, THE EAGLES MERGED ROSTERS WITH THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS.

World War II created a massive player shortage, with many pro footballers leaving their teams to fight overseas. In Pennsylvania, the Steelers' and Eagles’ rosters were so heavily depleted that some feared both clubs would shut down. Instead, they merged. For the duration of the 1943 season, these two franchises consolidated their squads into one, 25-man team nicknamed the “Steagles.” Their union ended the next year, when Philadelphia recruited enough players to strike out on its own again. Meanwhile, the understaffed Steelers were forced to enter a new merger with the Chicago Cardinals in 1944.

5. PHILLY ICON STEVE VAN BUREN WAS THE FIRST NFL RUNNING BACK TO HAVE MULTIPLE THOUSAND-YARD SEASONS.

A fan favorite, Eagles running back Steve Van Buren ran for 1008 yards in 1947 and 1146 in 1949. He’s also the only Pro Football Hall of Famer who was born in Honduras.

6. JOHN F. KENNEDY AND HIS BROTHERS THOUGHT ABOUT BUYING THE FRANCHISE.

Imagine if a sitting president co-owned an NFL team? Such a thing might’ve come to pass in 1962, when the Eagles were in the market for a new owner. The First Family learned they could acquire the club for the bargain price of $6 million. It was a tempting prospect.

According to former senator Ted Kennedy, “My brother Jack called me and said, ‘Are you in for a third if we can get [the Eagles] for $6 million? I’ve talked to Bobby and he says he’ll go for it.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go for a third.’” The deal never materialized, however. As ex-senator John Culver—a lifelong friend of Ted’s—has explained, the Kennedys became convinced that owning the Eagles “wouldn't work very compatibly with Jack's responsibility as president.”

7. SOME EAGLES DIEHARDS GOT TO ATTEND THE 1948 NFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME FOR FREE ... THEY JUST HAD TO BRING SHOVELS.

During the pre-Super Bowl Era, the Eagles won three National Football League titles. They earned the first of these on December 14, 1948 by beating the Cardinals in that year’s NFL Championship Game. Played at Philly’s Shibe Park, the contest was a bleak affair. That’s because, hours before kickoff, a nasty blizzard smothered the host stadium under a foot and a half of snow. Fans were told that if they brought a shovel over and helped clear the field, they wouldn’t be charged admission. In the end, the groundskeepers, an army of shovel-wielding spectators, and players from both teams all had to work together to get Shibe Park ready for the big game.

8. THE EAGLES WERE THE ONLY TEAM TO EVER BEAT VINCE LOMBARDI’S PACKERS IN THE PLAYOFFS.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy is named after a gridiron giant. As Green Bay’s head coach, Lombardi won five world championships, including the first two Super Bowls. Under his command, the Packers were a force to be reckoned with, especially in the postseason. Indeed, they only suffered one playoff loss during Lombardi’s legendary, nine-year tenure: In the 1960 NFL Championship Game, the Eagles prevailed over the Packers at Franklin Field by a final score of 17-13.

9. THAT SANTA CLAUS WHO WAS FAMOUSLY PELTED WITH SNOWBALLS BY EAGLES FANS THOUGHT THE INCIDENT WAS FUNNY.  

Philadelphians will never hear the end of the Santa Claus incident: On December 15, 1968, the last-place, 2-11 Eagles played their final game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings. Some 54,535 fans fought their way through a blizzard to watch the game at Philly’s Franklin Field. In an effort to raise everyone’s spirits, the owners had booked a Santa Claus impersonator to perform at halftime, but the actor never showed. Fortunately, the staff noticed then-19-year-old Frank Olivo who, as fate would have it, had worn a homemade Santa suit to the game.

After agreeing to fill in for the absent Kringle, Olivo made his way down to the field—where the miserable, frigid fans started booing him and hurling snowballs. It was an incident that Eagles fans—including those who weren't even born at the time—have never been able to live down. But Olivo claimed that, "I'm a Philadelphia fan, I knew what was what. I thought it was funny."

Before his death in 2015, Olivo event went on the record as saying “Philadelphia fans are the best in the world. I don’t care what anybody says, they live and die with their teams.”

10. A MIRACULOUS EAGLES WIN POPULARIZED THE QUARTERBACK KNEEL. 

When the team with the lead has possession of the ball during a game’s final seconds, it’s now standard practice for their quarterback to take a knee and run out the clock. That wasn't always the case, though. For a long time, many considered this maneuver to be unsportsmanlike. However, it became widely adopted after a 1978 Eagles-Giants game nicknamed “The Miracle at the Meadowlands.”

With less than 30 seconds remaining, New York had the ball and a 17-12 lead. But instead of kneeling, Giants QB Joe Pisarick tried handing the ball off to one of his fullbacks, but in the process, he dropped it. Thinking fast, Eagles defensive back Herman Edwards was able to grab it and score a game-winning touchdown. Needless to say, New York fans were stunned. One week later, the league embraced quarterback kneel-downs and never looked back.

11. ONE OF THE TEAM’S STRANGEST GAMES INVOLVED A THICK BLANKET OF FOG.

Bears and Eagles faceoff in the 1988 "Fog Bowl".
NFL.com, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On New Year’s Eve, 1988, the Eagles lost a postseason heartbreaker to the Bears in Chicago, in a game that has gone down in history as “The Fog Bowl.” Meteorologically, the title was well-earned. Lake Michigan sent a blinding sheet of fog over Soldier Field late in the first half, and the haze stayed put until the very last play. Visibility was so bad that most players couldn’t see beyond 10 yards in front of their faces. Up in the public address booth, Bears play-by-play announcer Jim Riebandt had to get game updates relayed to him from an usher who was standing on the field with a two-way radio.

12. SAFETY BRIAN DAWKINS RECORDED A SACK, A FUMBLE RECOVERY, AN INTERCEPTION, AND A TOUCHDOWN—ALL IN THE SAME GAME!

No other NFL player has matched this feat, which Dawkins executed in a 2002 loss to the Houston Texans.

13. SYLVESTER STALLONE MADE AN APPEARANCE AT LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD’S MAIDEN GAME.

ctor Sylvester Stallone makes an appearance as 'Rocky' prior to the inaugural NFL game at Lincoln Financial Field featuring the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the Philadelphia Eagles on September 8, 2003
Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

What could be more Philadelphian than Rocky Balboa in an Eagles jersey? Since their inception in 1933, the Eagles have called six different venues home, and their present abode is the $512 million stadium Lincoln Financial Field—also known as “The Linc.” The team’s first regular season game there kicked off on September 8, 2003, with Stallone in attendance in a Duce Staley jersey. Sly, of course, is a huge fan of the club; prior to the 2017 NFC Championship Game, he filmed himself imploring the Eagles to “Keep punching.”

14. TWO STAR WARS FILMS CONTAIN HIDDEN EAGLES REFERENCES.

Lucasfilm sound engineer David Acord loves his Philadelphia Eagles. When he was tasked with devising a language for the reptile-like alien Teedo in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Acord had the beast say “Celek” and “Fletcher” onscreen. This was a reference to Eagles tight end Brent Celek and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. For Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Acord passed off an Esperanto translation of “Fly, Eagles Fly” as a mystical Jedha City chant.

15. THE STRANGE COLOR THEY WEAR ON THEIR HOME JERSEYS IS CALLED “MIDNIGHT GREEN.”

Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates his teams win over the Minnesota Vikings with the George Halas Trophy after the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2018
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In 1996, the Eagles swapped out the more conventional Kelly green uniforms they’d been wearing since the 1930s for some new outfits in this darker shade. The hue isn’t easy to reproduce. Nike actually had so much trouble getting the shade just right that the company failed to complete Philadelphia’s 2014 home uniforms before the season began. Due to this snafu, the Eagles had to wear white or black jerseys during their first six home games that year. Nike finally got the team’s midnight green uniforms ready for a week 10 matchup against Carolina at The Linc.

16. PHILLY HAS THE ONLY LEFT-FACING LOGO IN THE NFL.

The team’s current bird-head design debuted in 1996. (Previous logos involved a soaring raptor with a football in its talons.) You may have noticed that, uniquely for an NFL insignia, this one faces to the left. The reason? Look closely, and you’ll see a capital “E” hidden in the neck feathers.

17. THERE ARE SOME EERIE PARALLELS BETWEEN THE 2004 AND THE 2018 EAGLES.

New England Patriots Deion Branch #83 runs with the ball during Super Bowl XXXIX between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6, 2005
Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images

Let’s take a look back at the last Eagles team that reached the Super Bowl: The 2004 squad went 13-3 in the regular season. Then they beat the Vikings and Falcons before losing to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX. Right about now, football fans in eastern Pennsylvania must be getting a sense of déjà vu. After all, the 2017 Eagles also went 13-3 prior to defeating Atlanta and Minnesota in the post-season. Oh, and who will they face on Sunday? Tom Brady’s Patriots. Spooky!

18. IN 2017, PHILADELPHIA CITY WORKERS TRIED GREASING STREETLIGHT POLES TO PREVENT EAGLES FANS FROM CELEBRATING ON THEM.

By defeating Atlanta in the Divisional Round of the 2017 playoffs, the top-seeded Eagles earned the right to host the NFC Championship Game. Knowing that the team's fans are an excitable lot, and fearing the worst, city officials had workers grease up street lights around Philadelphia. These so-called “Crisco cops” hoped that the measure would keep Eagles diehards from scaling the poles once the game ended. Instead, green-clad sports junkies took the whole thing as a challenge. After the Birds won, several Philly fans photographed themselves climbing grease-slicked streetlights in defiance.

19. THEIR TEAM ANTHEM HAS CHANGED LYRICS OVER THE YEARS.

Every modern Eagles fan can recite the team’s battle cry, “Fly, Eagles Fly.” But did you know that when this song was originally penned by Charles Borrelli and Roger Courtland in the late 1950s, it went “Fight, Eagles Fight?” The anthem had all but disappeared by 1997, when a team pep band resurrected it. New lyrics were later added and the tempo was sped up. Billboard has since listed “Fly, Eagles Fly” as one of the NFL’s best jingles. Also, the Philly-formed band The Roots has covered it multiple times.

20. A PAIR OF CURRENT EAGLES HELPED LAST YEAR’S PATRIOTS WIN SUPER BOWL LI.

Well, this’ll be an awkward reunion. Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long and running back LeGarrette Blount both earned a Super Bowl ring last year ... as members of the New England Patriots' roster. (Blount had also won another title as a Pat in Super Bowl XLIX.) On Sunday, we’ll see them take the field against their old team. With the duo’s help, can the Eagles finally capture a Lombardi trophy? Bradley Cooper certainly hopes so…

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Maestro: 10 Facts About Ennio Morricone

Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Famed composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020 at the age of 91, leaving behind a body of work that eclipses the idea of “productivity” itself. It’s not just that Morricone composed thousands of hours of music for hundreds of movies. It’s that he managed to create so many original, indelible moments over and over again, in such a broad variety of genres for so long, without acquiescing to repetition or compromising his creativity. The last, best comfort to take in his absence is the thrilling—and rather intimidating—volume of music he left for us to revisit and, more likely, discover while celebrating his legacy in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

In spite of his seemingly constant presence in the film industry for more than 70 years, there are many details about Morricone's life and career that even longtime fans may not know. In honoring the man and the artist, we’ve collected a handful of facts and figures about the Oscar-winning composer and his vast, incredible, and unforgettable body of work.

1. Ennio Morricone made music for 85 of his 91 years.

Ennio Morricone was encouraged to develop his natural musical abilities at a young age—he created his first compositions at age 6. He was taught music by his father and learned several instruments, but gravitated toward the trumpet. When he was just 12 years old, Morricone enrolled in a four-year program at the prestigious National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome, where he was born, and completed his studies within six months.

2. Ennio Morricone's career primarily focused on film, television, and radio compositions, but he also worked in popular music.

Morricone’s professional career began in 1950 as an arranger for jazz and pop artists. He helped compose hits for a diverse slate of stars including Nora Orlandi, Mina, Françoise Hardy, Mireille Mathieu, and Paul Anka, whose song “Ogni Volta” (“Every Time”) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.

Morricone later worked with Pet Shop Boys, k.d. lang, Andrea Bocelli, and Sting. From 1964 to 1980, he was also part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Consonanza (or “The Group”), an ensemble focused on avant-garde improvisations. Although it was reissued a few years ago, original copies of their 1970 album The Feed-back once fetched as much as $1000 on the collector’s market.

3. Ennio Morricone hit the ground running as a composer—and never slowed down.

Many of Morricone’s first efforts in the movies were as an orchestrator for more established composers, but he quickly joined their ranks. Between 1955 and 1964, when he created his breakthrough score for A Fistful of Dollars, he either orchestrated or composed (or both in some cases) some 28 film scores. During this time, he was already working with Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura), Vittorio De Sica (The Last Judgment), Lucio Fulci (twice!), Lina Wertmüller (I basilischi), and Bernardo Bertolucci (Before the Revolution).

4. Ennio Morricone helped turn A Fistful of Dollars into a worldwide classic.

When Sergio Leone hired Morricone for his first Western, he’d already embarked on an iconoclastic journey, referencing Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Leone’s initial “concession” was to evoke Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo in its music. Morricone combined ideas from Tiomkin’s music with an arrangement of folk singer Peter Tevis’s cover of the Woody Guthrie song “Pastures of Plenty” to create what became the opening title theme. The music won the Silver Ribbon Award for Best Score from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and forged a longtime partnership between Morricone and Leone.

5. During their heyday, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone worked in a way that was virtually unprecedented outside of musicals.

The music in Leone’s films is at once one of their most distinctive features, and also one of their most inextricable. Later in his career, Morricone explained that he would often compose portions of the music for Leone’s films before shooting began, and then scenes were staged and shot to match the timing and rhythm of the composer’s music. “That’s why the films are so slow,” Morricone joked in 2007. His use of so many then-unconventional instruments, including electric guitars, the mouth harp, and sound effects like gunshots redefined the musical landscape of the genre, while Leone razed its traditional morality tales to explore darker, more complex stories.

6. A Fistful Of Dollars spawned a lifetime of awards.

Morricone won his only competitive Oscar just four years ago, and had previously received an honorary Oscar in 2007. But after that recognition from the Italian National Syndicate of Journalists, he racked up hundreds of nominations and awards from the Motion Picture Academy (five other nominations), the American Film Institute (four), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (six nominations, three wins), the Grammys (five nominations and four awards including their Grammy Hall of Fame and Trustees Award), and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (a Career Achievement award and a win for his score for Once Upon a Time in America). Somewhat predictably, much of the work he did in “genre” films, even the acclaimed “Spaghetti Westerns,” was marginalized at the time, but went on to be appropriately recognized and reevaluated for its impact and artistry.

7. Ennio Morricone was both a critical and a commercial success.

Morricone's work with Leone raised his profile as a formidable collaborator for filmmakers and gave him worldwide chart success. His score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly sold more than 2 million copies, and the soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West, his fourth collaboration with Leone, sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. It remains one of the top five best-selling instrumental scores in the world today. To date, Morricone has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

8. Ennio Morricone’s partnership with Sergio Leone was exemplary, but he wasn’t the composer’s only frequent collaborator.

From A Fistful of Dollars to Once Upon a Time in America, Leone’s final film, he and Morricone always worked together. While working primarily in Italy, he often teamed up with Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Dario Argento, among others. After being courted by Hollywood, Morricone began developing long-term partnerships with American and international filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Warren Beatty, Samuel Fuller, and Roland Joffe. By the late 1970s, he was working with John Boorman and Terrence Malick, and by the 1980s and ‘90s, he was regularly collaborating with John Carpenter, Barry Levinson, George Miller, and Pedro Almodóvar.

Beginning in 1988, Morricone began working with Giuseppe Tornatore on the Oscar-winning Italian film Cinema Paradiso, and subsequently worked on all of Tornatore's other films, including 2016’s The Correspondence and the director's commercials for Dolce & Gabbana.

9. Quentin Tarantino championed Ennio Morricone’s work even before the two of them ever worked together.

Quentin Tarantino’s films are always an exciting pastiche of past and present influences, and he has used cues from Morricone scores in many of his films, beginning with Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2. Tarantino first hoped to work with the composer on Inglorious Basterds, but when the timing couldn’t be worked out, the filmmaker utilized eight older tracks by Morricone on the soundtrack.

Morricone composed the song “Ancora Qui” for Django Unchained, but it wasn’t until The Hateful Eight that he composed a full score for Tarantino, who still used archival tracks—namely, some unreleased cues from his score for John Carpenter’s The Thing—to expand the film’s musical backdrop. In 2016, Morricone won his first competitive Oscar for his work on Tarantino's film after being nominated six times over the course of nearly 40 years. Morricone also earned an Honorary Oscar in 2007 "For his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music."

10. Morricone’s discography remains an embarrassment of riches—at least, whatever’s left of it.

Though the extent of the loss hasn’t been reported, Morricone’s was among the work reportedly destroyed in the 2008 fire on the Universal backlot where the company’s Music Group stored original recording and master tapes from some of the world’s best-selling artists. But Morricone recorded more than 400 film scores throughout his career and more than 100 classical pieces, not counting the thousands of pieces licensed for use. More and more of them have been restored and re-released digitally, on CD and vinyl. Meanwhile, his work continues to elicit as strong reactions from moviegoers as the images they were originally written to accompany.

Yo-Yo Ma released an album of performances of Morricone pieces in 2004 that sold more than 130,000 copies. His work tested and redefined the boundaries of film composition, what instruments could be used, and how music and imagery could work together to tell stories and generate powerful feelings. And each listen of those recordings, whether of transgressive experimentation, pointed drama, or lush sentimentality, honors Morricone's enormous talent and evokes his irreplaceable spirit.