Marvin Hamlisch, the legendary film and musical composer whose long list of credits include “The Way We Were,” “The Sting” and “A Chorus Line,” died Monday following a brief illness, his family announced. He was 68.
No other details have been released on the unexpected news. Hamlisch has been busy this year, and was scheduled to visit Nashville this week to see the opening of his latest musical, the Jerry Lewis-directed “The Nutty Professor.” He was also scheduled to conduct at the New York Philharmonic in December.
“I have lost my first lifelong best friend, and sadly we have lost a splendid, splendid talent,” said Liza Minnelli, whose first two albums were arranged by Hamlisch.
“A Chorus Line”
“The Way We Were”
Over the years, the New York native has won three Academy Awards, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globes, and a Pulitzer Prize. The latter came for his groundbreaking musical “A Chorus Line.” All three of his Oscars came in 1973, two for “The Way We Were” (Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song) and the other for his adaptation of Scott Jopliin’s music for “The Sting.”
Other film credits include “Sophie’s Choice,” “Ordinary People,” “The Swimmer,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “Ice Castles,” “Take the Money and Run,” Bananas” and “Save the Tiger.”
On stage, Hamlisch wrote music for “They’re Playing Our Song,” “The Goodbye Girl” and “Sweet Smell of Success.”
One of Hamlisch’s key partnerships was with singing icon Barbra Streisand. He wrote what has become her signature song, “The Way We Were,”which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. He later arranged her 1994 concert tour and TV special, “Barbra Streisand: The Concert,” which earned him two of his Emmys.
“I’m devastated,” Streisand wrote in a statement on her web site. “He was my dear friend. He’s been in my life ever since the first day I met him in 1963, when he was my rehearsal pianist for ‘Funny Girl.’ He played at my wedding in 1998… The world will remember Marvin for his brilliant musical accomplishments, from ‘A Chorus Line’ to ‘The Way We Were,’ and so many others, but when I think of him now, it was his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity, and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around.
Just last night, I was trying to reach him, to tell him how much I loved him, and that I wanted to use an old song of his, that I had just heard for the first time. He was a true musical genius, but above all that, he was a beautiful human being. I will truly miss him.”
Until the time of his death, Hamlisch held several positions at prestigious symphonies across the country, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony. Next week, he was to be announced as the Principal Pops Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra.
He is survived by Terre, his wife of 25 years.