Umiliani was born in Florence, Tuscany. Like many of his Italian colleagues at that time, he composed the scores for many exploitation films in the 1960s and 1970s, covering genres such as spaghetti western, Eurospy, Giallo, and soft sex films.
Although not as widely regarded as, for example, Ennio Morricone or Riz Ortolani, he helped form the style of the typical European 1960s and 1970s jazz influenced film soundtrack, that later experienced a revival in films such as Kill Bill, and “Crepuscolo Sul Mare” in Ocean’s Twelve.
“Mah Nà Mah Nà” (1968) was originally used for a Mondo documentary about Sweden (Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso), but was popularized by the Muppets, who covered the song several times; starting on episode 0014 of Sesame Street on 27 November 1969, then the Ed Sullivan Show on 30 November 1969, and again on the syndicated The Muppet Show in 1977. The track was also a hit in the UK, reaching #8 in the UK Singles chart in May 1977.
Umiliani died in Rome in February 2001, at the age of 74.