Marvin Hamlisch
Hamlisch in the early 1970s
Hamlisch in the early 1970s
Background information
Birth nameMarvin Frederick Hamlisch
Born(1944-06-02)June 2, 1944
New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 6, 2012(2012-08-06) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Composer
  • conductor
Years active1965–2012

Marvin Frederick Hamlisch (June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012) was an American composer and conductor. Hamlisch was one of only 18 people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, a feat dubbed the "EGOT". He and composer Richard Rodgers are the only people to have won those prizes and a Pulitzer Prize ("PEGOT").[1]

Early life

Hamlisch was born in Manhattan, to Viennese-born Jewish parents Lilly (née Schachter) and Max Hamlisch.[2] His father was an accordionist and bandleader. Hamlisch was a child prodigy; 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.[3] His favorite musicals growing up were My Fair Lady, Gypsy, West Side Story, and Bye Bye Birdie.[4]


Hamlisch attended Queens College, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967.[3] His first job was as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. Shortly afterward, producer Sam Spiegel hired him to play piano at parties, and later to score Spiegel's 1968 film The Swimmer.[3]

Music for films

Liza Minnelli's 1964 debut album included "The Travelin' Life", a song Hamlisch wrote in his teens (originally titled "Travelin' Man").[5] His first hit arrived when he was 21 years old: "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows", co-written with Howard Liebling and recorded by Lesley Gore. It reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965.[6]

His first film score was for 1968's The Swimmer.[6] He also wrote music for several early Woody Allen films, including Take the Money and Run (1969) and Bananas (1971).

Hamlisch and Liebling co-wrote the song "California Nights", 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.

Hamlisch, at age 29, holding two of the three Oscars he won in 1974. With him are Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Cher.
Hamlisch, at age 29, holding two of the three Oscars he won in 1974. With him are Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Cher.

Among Hamlisch's 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.[7] 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. 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.[6] 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.

In 1985 he worked on D.A.R.Y.L., a project film about a boy who is in fact a robot designed by the US military. He also worked on the score for The Informant! (2009), starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh.[6] 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.[8] The performances were released as a two-record set, and remained very popular.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] In 1986, Smile was a mixed success and had a short run on Broadway.[6] 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.[12]

Shortly before his death, Hamlisch finished scoring a musical theatre version of The Nutty Professor, based on the 1963 film.[13] The show played in July and August 2012, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville, aiming for a Broadway run.[13][14][15] The book is by Rupert Holmes, and the production was directed by Jerry Lewis.[16][17]


Hamlisch conducting
Hamlisch conducting

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.[18]

Hamlisch held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,[19] the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,[20] the San Diego Symphony,[21] the Seattle Symphony,[22] the Dallas Symphony Orchestra,[23] Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra,[24] The National Symphony Orchestra Pops,[25] The Pasadena Symphony and Pops,[26] and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.[27]

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.[28] 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 17 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).[29] 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.[30]

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.[6] 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.[31] In 2008, he appeared as a judge in the Canadian reality series Triple Sensation which aired on CBC. 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.[32][33] In 2008, Hamlisch was also inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[34]

Academy Awards

In 1974, Hamlisch became the second person to win three Academy Awards in the same evening, following Billy Wilder in 1961.

Year Category Nominated work Result
1972 Best Original Song "Life Is What You Make It", Kotch Nominated
1973 Best Original Score The Sting Won
1973 Best Original Dramatic Score The Way We Were Won
1973 Best Original Song "The Way We Were", The Way We Were Won
1977 Best Original Score The Spy Who Loved Me Nominated
1977 Best Original Song "Nobody Does It Better", The Spy Who Loved Me Nominated
1978 Best Original Song "The Last Time I Felt Like This", Same Time, Next Year Nominated
1979 Best Original Song "Through the Eyes of Love", Ice Castles Nominated
1982 Best Original Score Sophie's Choice Nominated
1985 Best Original Song "Surprise Surprise", A Chorus Line Nominated
1989 Best Original Song "The Girl Who Used to Be Me" from Shirley Valentine Nominated
1996 Best Original Song "I Finally Found Someone" from The Mirror Has Two Faces Nominated

Grammy Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
1975 Best New Artist Won
1975 Song of the Year The Way We Were Won
1975 Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media The Way We Were Won
1975 Best Pop Instrumental Performance The Entertainer Won
1976 Best Musical Theater Album A Chorus Line Nominated
1978 Song of the Year Nobody Does It Better Nominated
1978 Best Instrumental Composition Bond '77/James Bond Theme Nominated
1978 Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media The Spy Who Loved Me Nominated
1980 Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Ice Castles Motion Picture Soundtrack Nominated
1980 Best Musical Theater Album They're Playing Our Song Nominated
1990 Best Song Written for Visual Media "The Girl Who Used to Be Me", Shirley Valentine Nominated

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
1992 Original Main Title Theme Music Brooklyn Bridge Nominated
1995 Original Music and Lyrics Barbra: The Concert Won
1995 Outstanding Music Direction Barbra: The Concert Won
1999 Original Music and Lyrics "A Ticket to Dream", AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Won
2000 Original Music and Lyrics "Without You", AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars Nominated
2001 Original Music and Lyrics "On the Way to Becoming Me", AFI Tribute to Barbra Streisand Nominated
2001 Outstanding Music Direction Barbra Streisand: Timeless Won

Tony Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
1976 Best Original Score A Chorus Line Won
2002 Best Original Score Sweet Smell of Success Nominated

Personal life

Hamlisch's relationship with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager inspired the musical They're Playing Our Song.[35] He was also in a relationship with actress Emma Samms.[36][failed verification] He was in a relationship with television personality Cyndy Garvey after her breakup with her husband, Steve Garvey.[37]

In May 1989, Hamlisch married Terre Blair, a native of Columbus, Ohio and graduate of Otterbein College, who was the weather and news anchor for that city's ABC affiliate, WSYX-Channel 6.[38][39][40] The marriage lasted until his death.[41]


After a brief illness, Hamlisch died after collapsing in Los Angeles on August 6, 2012, at the age of 68.[42] According to a copy of Hamlisch's death certificate, the cause of death was determined to be respiratory arrest, with hypertension and cerebral hypoxia as contributing factors.[43][44]

The Associated Press described him as having written "some of the best-loved and most enduring songs and scores in movie history".[45] 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".[6] Aretha Franklin called him "classic and one of a kind", and one of the "all-time great" arrangers and producers.[46] 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".[5]

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,[47][48] an honor traditionally accorded to those considered to have made significant contributions to the theater arts upon their death.[49][50][51]

Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, and Liza Minnelli took turns singing songs by Hamlisch during a memorial service for the composer on September 18, 2012.[52] 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 death.[53] 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.[54]


Orchestral work

Hamlisch at the piano, 2006
Hamlisch at the piano, 2006

Hamlisch was the primary conductor for the Pittsburgh Pops from 1995 until his death.[55]

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.[56] It was also performed at Carnegie Hall in 1993,[35] and in Paris in 1994 to commemorate D-Day.[57] The work was recorded by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1992.[58] 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.[59]


Year Title Role(s) Notes
1973 Seesaw Dance Arrangements
1975 A Chorus Line Music by Pulitzer Prize for Drama & Tony Award for Best Score
1978 They're Playing Our Song Music by
1983 Jean Seberg Music by
1986 Smile Music by
1993 The Goodbye Girl Music by
2002 Sweet Smell of Success Music by
2002 Imaginary Friends Music by
2012 The Nutty Professor Music by


Title Year Role(s) Notes
1968 The Swimmer
1969 Take the Money and Run
1969 The April Fools
1970 Move
1970 Flap
1971 Something Big
1971 Kotch
1971 Bananas
1972 The War Between Men and Women
1973 The World's Greatest Athlete
1973 Save the Tiger
1973 The Way We Were
1973 The Sting
1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue
1977 The Spy Who Loved Me
1977 The Absent-Minded Waiter
1978 Same Time, Next Year
1978 Ice Castles
1979 Starting Over
1979 Chapter Two
1980 Seems Like Old Times
1980 Ordinary People
1980 Gilda Live
1982 Sophie's Choice
1982 I Ought to Be in Pictures
1983 Romantic Comedy
1984 A Streetcar Named Desire
1985 D.A.R.Y.L.
1985 A Chorus Line
1987 When the Time Comes
1988 Sam Found Out: A Triple Play
1988 Little Nikita
1988 David
1989 The January Man
1989 Shirley Valentine
1989 The Experts
1990 Women and Men: Stories of Seduction
1991 Switched at Birth
1991 Missing Pieces
1991 Frankie and Johnny
1994 Seasons of the Heart
1996 The Mirror Has Two Faces
2003 How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
2009 The Informant!
2013 Behind the Candelabra

See also


  1. ^ Renzulli, Kerri Anne (February 21, 2019). "These fifteen people have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony–here's who could achieve EGOT status next". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-05-02.
  2. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch Biography (1944- )". Filmreference. Retrieved November 25, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "Marvin Hamlisch biography". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
  4. ^ Cerasaro, Pat (July 22, 2010). "InDepth Interview Marvin Hamlisch". BroadwayWorld.
  5. ^ a b Woo, Elaine. "Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68; award-winning composer of popular music". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Hoerburger, Rob (August 7, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch, Whose Notes Struck Gold, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "Academy Awards Database: 1973 music category winners". Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  8. ^ "Author Michael Levin Remembers Marvin Hamlisch". AntiMusic. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "Timbuctoo". An Evening With Groucho Marx. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  10. ^ "Accounts". Archived from the original on 2013-04-21.
  11. ^ "Hamlisch biography.Broadway:The American Musical" PBS, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  12. ^ "The Goodbye Girl", IMDb, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Ellis, Jeffrey (August 7, 2012). "The Nutty Professor Company Members Pay Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  14. ^ Ridley, Jim. "The Nutty Professor at TPAC". Nashville Scene. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  15. ^ Ng, David (August 8, 2012). "Without Marvin Hamlisch, some uncertainty for 'Nutty Professor'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  16. ^ Jones, Kenneth (August 17, 2012). "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. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  17. ^ Ng, David (August 2, 2012). "Jerry Lewis' 'Nutty Professor' musical opens in Nashville". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  18. ^ Janairo, Michael (August 7, 2012). "Remembering Marvin Hamlisch". Times Union. Albany, NY. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  19. ^ "Conductors: Marvin Hamlisch". Pittsburgh Symphony. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
  20. ^ "Marvin Plays Marvin". Archived April 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  21. ^ "Musicians and Conductors" Archived August 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. San Diego Symphony. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  22. ^ "Holiday POPS! with Marvin Hamlisch" Archived May 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Seattle Symphony, Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  23. ^ "Conductors". Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  24. ^ Goldman, Mary Kunz (August 8, 2012). "City mourns Marvin? Hamlisch, dead at 68 Acclaimed composer felt at home in Buffalo". The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  25. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch". The Kennedy Center. August 8, 2012. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012.
  26. ^ Ng, David (August 27, 2010). "Marvin Hamlisch named conductor of the Pasadena Pops". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  27. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch: Composer, conductor, Yankees fan?". Baltimore Sun. August 10, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  28. ^ Haithman, Diane (August 5, 2011). "Pasadena Pops' Marvin Hamlisch just wants to have fun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  29. ^ "Tony Legacy, They're the Top" Archived 2003-06-09 at the Wayback Machine. Tony Awards. Retrieved February 5, 2010.
  30. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch Golden Globes Awards" Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine. Golden Globes. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  31. ^ "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. Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  32. ^ "Full cast and crew for 'Triple Sensation'". IMDb. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Rawson, Christopher (January 28, 2009). "Lane, Hamlisch among Theater Hall of Fame inductees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  35. ^ a b Klein, Alvin (August 22, 1993). "A New Approach for Marvin Hamlisch", The New York Times.
  36. ^ "Dynasty star Emma Samms on her TV comeback". 9 August 2014.
  37. ^ Kim Masters (1989-07-14). "CYNDY GARVEY'S TURN AT BAT". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409.
  38. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch to Marry Ms. Blair, Producer, in May", The New York Times. March 19, 1989.
  39. ^ "People Are Talking About..." Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. June 19, 1989.
  40. ^ Laufenberg, Norbert B. Hamlisch, Marvin Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. (2005) p. 285. ISBN 978-1412053358.
  41. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch". The Daily Telegraph. London. August 8, 2012. Archived from the original on 2022-01-12. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  42. ^ Hoerburger, Rob (August 7, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch, Whose Notes Struck Gold, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  43. ^ Tipping, Joy (August 17, 2012). "Marvin Hamlisch died of lung failure, according to death certificate". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  44. ^ "Composer Marvin Hamlisch Died of Lung Failure". TMZ. August 17, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  45. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch left his signature on decades of films". Boston Herald. Associated Press. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  46. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch, composer for Broadway and the screen, dies aged 68". The Guardian. London. Associated Press. August 7, 2012.
  47. ^ Ariosto, David (August 7, 2012). "Broadway to dim in honor of composer Marvin Hamlisch; dead at 68". CNN. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  48. ^ Levine, Daniel S. (August 8, 2012). "Broadway to dim lights in tribute to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch". The Celebrity Cafe. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  49. ^ Cody, Gabrielle H. (2007). "Shaw, George Bernard". Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. p. 1227. ISBN 978-0231144247. Retrieved August 11, 2012 – via Google Books.
  50. ^ Bloom, Ken (November 11, 2003). "Hammerstein, Oscar, II". Broadway: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 212. ISBN 978-0203644355. Retrieved August 11, 2012 – via Google Books.
  51. ^ Gussow, Mel (May 23, 2000). "Sir John Gielgud, 96, Dies; Beacon of Classical Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  52. ^ Kennedy, Mark. "Streisand, Minnelli Sing for Marvin Hamlisch in NY". Associated Press. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  53. ^ "Celebrating Marvin Hamlisch - Recent Tributes & Production of his Musicals. THANKS!". Marvin Hamlisch. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  54. ^ "Staples Players Will Be a Part of 6/2 Marvin Hamlisch Tribute in NYC". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  55. ^ "Marvin Hamlisch". Pittsburgh Music History. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  56. ^ Brozan, Nadine (November 19, 1991). "Chronicle", The New York Times.
  57. ^ Croan, Robert (May 30, 1994). "Hamlisch Symphony". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 19.
  58. ^ "Dallas Symphony Orchestra Discography" Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine. Dallas Symphony. p. 4, Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  59. ^ Reves, Emery (1945). The Anatomy of Peace (1 ed.). New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

Further reading