Marvin Hamlisch

Marvin Frederick Hamlisch (June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012) was an American composer and conductor. Hamlisch was one of only fifteen people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. This collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". He is one of only two people (along with composer Richard Rodgers) to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize ("PEGOT").

Marvin Hamlisch
Hamlisch in early 1970s
Background information
Birth nameMarvin Frederick Hamlisch
Born(1944-06-02)June 2, 1944
New York, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 6, 2012(2012-08-06) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresMusical theatre · Film music · Pops
Occupation(s)Composer · Conductor
Years active1965–2012

Early life

Hamlisch was born in Manhattan, to Viennese-born Jewish parents Lilly (née Schachter) and Max Hamlisch.[1] His father was an accordionist and bandleader. Hamlisch was a child prodigy and, by age five, he began mimicking the piano music he heard on the radio. A few months before he turned seven, in 1951, he was accepted into what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division.[2]


Hamlisch's first job was as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. Shortly afterward, he was hired by producer Sam Spiegel to play piano at Spiegel's parties. This connection led to his first film score, The Swimmer.[2] His favorite musicals growing up were My Fair Lady, Gypsy, West Side Story, and Bye Bye Birdie.[3] Hamlisch attended Queens College, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967.[2]

Music for films

Although Liza Minnelli's debut album included "The Travelin' Life", a song he wrote in his teens (originally titled "Travelin' Man"),[4] his first hit did not come until he was 21 years old. This song, "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows", co-written with Howard Liebling, was recorded by Lesley Gore and reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965.[5] His first film score was for The Swimmer, after the film's producer Sam Spiegel hired Hamlisch based on a piano performance Hamlisch did at a party.[5] Later he wrote music for several early Woody Allen films such as Take the Money and Run and Bananas. In addition, Hamlisch co-wrote the song "California Nights" (also with Liebling), which was recorded by Lesley Gore for her 1967 hit album of the same name. The Bob Crewe-produced single peaked at No. 16 on the Hot 100 in March 1967, two months after Gore had performed the song on the Batman television series, in which she guest-starred as an accomplice to Julie Newmar's Catwoman.

Among his better-known works during the 1970s were adaptations of Scott Joplin's ragtime music for the motion picture The Sting, including its theme song, "The Entertainer". It hit No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100, selling nearly 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. He had great success in 1973, winning two Academy Awards for the title song and the score for the motion picture The Way We Were and an Academy Award for the adaptation score for The Sting.[6] He won four Grammy Awards in 1974, two for "The Way We Were". In 1975, he wrote what, for its first 12 years, would be the original theme music for Good Morning America—it was built around four notes. He co-wrote "Nobody Does It Better" for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) with his then-girlfriend Carole Bayer Sager, which would be nominated for an Oscar.[5] In the 1980s, he had success with the scores for Ordinary People (1980) and Sophie's Choice (1982). He also received an Academy-Award nomination in 1986 for the film version of A Chorus Line. His last projects included The Informant! (2009), starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh.[5] Prior to his death, he completed his first children's book Marvin Makes Music, which included the original music "The Music in My Mind" with words by Rupert Holmes, and the score for the HBO film Behind the Candelabra (2013), also directed by Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas as Liberace.


Hamlisch's first major stage work was in 1972 playing piano for Groucho Marx at Carnegie Hall for An Evening with Groucho. Hamlisch acted as both straight man and accompanist while Marx, at age 81, reminisced about his career in show business.[7] The performances were released as a two-record set, and remained very popular.[8]

He then composed the scores for the 1975 Broadway musical A Chorus Line, for which he won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize; and for the 1978 musical They're Playing Our Song, loosely based on his relationship with Carole Bayer Sager.[9]

At the beginning of the 1980s, his romantic relationship with Bayer Sager ended, but their songwriting relationship continued. The 1983 musical Jean Seberg, based on the life of the real-life actress, failed in its London production at the UK's National Theatre and never played in the U.S.[10] In 1986, Smile was a mixed success and had a short run on Broadway.[5] The musical version of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (1993) closed after only 188 performances, although he received a Drama Desk nomination, for Outstanding Music.[11]

Shortly before his death, Hamlisch finished scoring a musical theatre version of The Nutty Professor, based on the 1963 film.[12] The show played in July and August 2012, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville, aiming for a Broadway run.[12][13][14] The book is by Rupert Holmes, and the production was directed by Jerry Lewis.[15][16]


Hamlisch was musical director and arranger of Barbra Streisand's 1994 concert tour of the U.S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which he received two of his Emmys. He also conducted several tours of Linda Ronstadt during this period, most notably on her successful 1996 Dedicated to the One I Love tour of arenas and stadiums.

Hamlisch held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,[17] the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,[18] the San Diego Symphony,[19] the Seattle Symphony,[20] the Dallas Symphony Orchestra,[21] Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra,[22] The National Symphony Orchestra Pops,[23] The Pasadena Symphony and Pops,[24] and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.[25]

On July 23, 2011, Hamlisch conducted his debut concert for Pasadena Symphony and Pops at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Hamlisch replaced Rachael Worby.[26]

At the time of his death, he was preparing to assume responsibilities as Principal Pops Conductor for The Philly POPS.

Honors and awards

Hamlisch is one of only 15 people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. This collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". He is one of only two people to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize (Richard Rodgers is the other).[27] He is one of ten people to win three or more Oscars in one night and the only one other than a director or screenwriter to do so.

Hamlisch also won two Golden Globes. He earned ten Golden Globe Award nominations, winning twice for Best Original Song, with "Life Is What You Make It" in 1972 and "The Way We Were" in 1974.[28] He also received six Emmy Award nominations, winning four times, twice for music direction of Barbra Streisand specials, in 1995 and 2001.[29] He shared the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976 with Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, and Edward Kleban for his musical contribution to the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line.[5]

Hamlisch received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium. He was also inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008.[30] In 2008, he appeared as a judge in the Canadian reality series Triple Sensation which aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The show was aimed to provide a training bursary to a talented young man or woman with the potential to be a leader in song, dance, and acting.[31][32] In 2008, Hamlisch was also inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[33]

Pulitzer Prize

Academy Awards

Personal life

In May 1989, Hamlisch married Terre Blair, a native of Columbus, Ohio, who was the weather and news anchor for that city's ABC affiliate, WSYX-Channel 6.[34][35][36] The marriage lasted until his death.[37] Hamlisch's prior relationship with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager inspired the musical They're Playing Our Song.[38]


After a brief illness, on August 6, 2012, Hamlisch collapsed and died in Los Angeles, California.[39]

The Associated Press described him as having written "some of the best-loved and most enduring songs and scores in movie history".[40] Barbra Streisand released a statement praising Hamlisch, stating it was "his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around."[5] Aretha Franklin called him "classic and one of a kind", and one of the "all-time great" arrangers and producers.[41] The head of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops commented that Hamlisch had "left a very specific ... original mark on American music and added to the great American songbook with works he himself composed."[42]

At 8:00 p.m. EDT on August 8, the marquee lights of the 40 Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in tribute to Hamlisch,[43][44] an honor traditionally accorded posthumously to those considered to have made significant contributions to the theater arts.[45][46][47]

Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, and Liza Minnelli took turns singing songs by Hamlisch during a memorial service for the composer on September 18, 2012.[48] At the 2013 Academy Awards, Streisand sang "The Way We Were" in Hamlisch's memory. On June 2, 2013, a tribute was held in New York City to remember Hamlisch on the first anniversary of his passing.[49] At the tribute, Staples Players, a high school theatre group from Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut performed a selection of material from A Chorus Line. Other veterans of the screen and stage also performed at the event.[50]

Material loss

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Marvin Hamlisch among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[51]



Hamlisch was the primary conductor for the Pittsburgh Pops from 1995 until his death.[52]

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed a rare Hamlisch classical symphonic suite titled Anatomy of Peace (Symphonic Suite in one Movement For Full Orchestra/Chorus/Child Vocal Soloist) on November 19, 1991.[53] It was also performed at Carnegie Hall in 1993,[54] and in Paris in 1994 to commemorate D-Day.[55] The work was recorded by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1992.[56] The Anatomy of Peace was a book by Emery Reves which expressed the world-federalist sentiments shared by Albert Einstein and many others in the late 1940s, in the period immediately following World War II.[57]



See also


  1. "Marvin Hamlisch Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  2. Marvin Hamlisch biography, retrieved April 2, 2009.
  3. Cerasaro. Pat."InDepth Interview Marvin Hamlisch", July 22, 2010.
  4. Woo, Elaine. "Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68; award-winning composer of popular music". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  5. Rob Hoerburger (August 7, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch, Whose Notes Struck Gold, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  6. "Academy Awards Database, results for query on 1973 music category winners". Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  7. "Author Michael Levin Remembers Marvin Hamlisch". August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  8. "An Evening With Groucho Marx".
  9. "Accounts".
  10. "Hamlisch biography.Broadway:The American Musical" PBS, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  11. "The Goodbye Girl listing", IMDb, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  12. Ellis, Jeffrey (August 7, 2012). "The Nutty Professor Company Members Pay Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch". Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  13. Ridley, Jim. "The Nutty Professor at TPAC". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  14. Ng, David (August 8, 2012). "Without Marvin Hamlisch, some uncertainty for 'Nutty Professor'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  15. Jones, Kenneth. "Producers of Nutty Professor Hope to Earn Broadway Tenure for New Marvin Hamlisch-Rupert Holmes Show" Archived 2012-08-19 at the Wayback Machine, Playbill, August 17, 2012, accessed August 19, 2013
  16. Ng, David (2012-08-02). "Jerry Lewis' 'Nutty Professor' musical opens in Nashville". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  17. "Hamlisch Biography", Pittsburgh Symphony, retrieved April 2, 2009.
  18. "Hamlisch Listing" Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  19. "Musicians and Conductors Listing", San Diego Symphony, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  20. "Hamlisch Listing" Archived 2009-05-06 at the Wayback Machine Seattle Symphony, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  21. "Conductors", Dallas Symphony Orchestra, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  22. "Composer Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68", Buffalo News, retrieved August 7, 2012.
  23. "Marvin Hamlish Bio". August 8, 2012. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012.
  24. Ng, David (August 27, 2010). "Marvin Hamlisch named conductor of the Pasadena Pops". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  25. "Marvin Hamlisch: Composer, conductor, Yankees fan? — Los Angeles Times". 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  26. Haithman, Diane (August 5, 2011). "Pasadena Pops' Marvin Hamlisch just wants to have fun". Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  27. "Tony Legacy, They're the Top" Archived 2003-06-09 at the Wayback Machine,, retrieved February 5, 2010.
  28. "Marvin Hamlisch Golden Globes Awards" Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine,, retrieved August 7, 2009.
  29. "Hamlisch Award Listing", Internet Movie Database, retrieved April 2, 2009.
  30. "The Long Island Music Hall of Fame Second Induction Award Gala on October 30 at the Garden City Hotel" Archived 2010-11-30 at the Wayback Machine,, 2008, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  31. Full cast and crew for 'Triple Sensation'. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  32. Ouzounian, Richard (August 8, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch, composer for 'The Sting' and 'A Chorus Line', dies in L.A." Toronto Star. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  33. "Lane, Hamlisch among Theater Hall of Fame inductees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  34. "Marvin Hamlisch to Marry Ms. Blair, Producer, in May", The New York Times, March 19, 1989.
  35. "People Are Talking About", Jet, June 19, 1989 (
  36. Laufenberg, Norbert B."Hamlisch, Marvin". Entertainment Celebrities, Trafford Publishing, 2005, p. 285 (
  37. "Marvin Hamlisch". The Telegraph. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  38. Klein, Alvin. "A New Approach for Marvin Hamlisch", The New York Times, August 22, 1993.
  39. Hoerburger, Rob (August 7, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch, Whose Notes Struck Gold, Dies at 68". Retrieved February 17, 2019.(Monday was August 6, 2012)
  40. "Marvin Hamlisch left his signature on decades of films". Boston Herald. Associated Press. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  41. Press, Associated (7 August 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch, composer for Broadway and the screen, dies aged 68" via The Guardian.
  42. Woo, Elaine (August 8, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68; award-winning composer of popular music". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  43. Ariosto, David (August 7, 2012). "Broadway to dim in honor of composer Marvin Hamlisch; dead at 68". CNN. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  44. Levine, Daniel S. (August 8, 2012). "Broadway to dim lights in tribute to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch". Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  45. Cody, Gabrielle H. (2007). "Shaw, George Bernard". Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press (via p. 1227. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  46. Bloom, Ken (November 11, 2003). "Hammerstein, Oscar, II". Broadway: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis (via p. 212. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  47. Gussow, Mel (May 23, 2000). "Sir John Gielgud, 96, Dies; Beacon of Classical Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  48. Kennedy, Mark. "Streisand, Minnelli Sing for Marvin Hamlisch in NY". Associated Press. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  49. "Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch - Recent Tributes & Production of his Musicals. THANKS! | Marvin Hamlisch". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  50. Desk, BWW News. "Staples Players Will Be a Part of 6/2 Marvin Hamlisch Tribute in NYC". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  51. Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  52. "Marvin Hamlisch — Pittsburgh Music History". Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  53. Brozan, Nadine. "Chronicle", The New York Times, November 19, 1991.
  54. Alvin Klein. "A New Approach for Marvin Hamlisch", The New York Times, August 22, 1993.
  55. Croan, Robert. "Hamlisch Symphony", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 1994, p. 19.
  56. "Dallas Symphony Orchestra Discography" Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine,, p. 4, retrieved February 4, 2010.
  57. Reves, Emery (1945). The Anatomy of Peace (1 ed.). New York & London: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

Further reading

  • Flinn, Denny Martin (1989). What They Did for Love: The Untold Story Behind the Making of "A Chorus Line". Bantam ISBN 0-553-34593-1.
  • Hamlisch, Marvin (1992). The Way I Was. Scribner; 1st edition. ISBN 0-684-19327-2.
  • Kelly, Kevin (1990). One Singular Sensation: The Michael Bennett Story. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26125-X.
  • Mandelbaum, Ken (1990). "A Chorus Line" and the Musicals of Michael Bennett. St Martins Press. ISBN 0-312-04280-9.
  • Stevens, Gary (2000). The Longest Line: Broadway's Most Singular Sensation: "A Chorus Line". Applause Books. ISBN 1-55783-221-8.
  • Viagas, Robert (1990). On the Line — The Creation of "A Chorus Line". Limelight Editions; 2nd edition. ISBN 0-87910-336-1.
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