NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the scores for dozens of movies including “The Sting” and won a Tony for “A Chorus Line,” died Monday in Los Angeles at age of 68.
The native New Yorker, who studied at Queens College, died Monday after a brief illness, family spokesman Jason Lee said. Other details aren’t being released.
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Hamlisch’s career included composing, conducting and arranging music from Broadway to Hollywood.
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In a career that spanned over four decades, Hamlisch won virtually ever major award including three Oscars, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes.
Hamlisch composed more than 40 film scores, including “Sophie’s Choice,” “Ordinary People” and “Take the Money and Run.” He won his third Oscar for his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for “The Sting.”
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On Broadway, Hamlisch received the Pulitzer Prize for “The Chorus Line” — the fifth-longest running show in Broadway history — and wrote “The Goodbye Girl” and “Sweet Smell of Success.”
Hamlisch also co-wrote the song “Nobody Does It Better” (sung by Carly Simon) from the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
In recent months, Hamlisch had been working with Jerry Lewis on a musical version of his film “The Nutty Professor.”
Hamlisch also served as musical director and arranger of Barbra Streisand’s 1994 concert tour and the television special “Barbra Streisand: The Concert” for which he won two Emmys.
Hamlisch earned his place in American culture through his music, but he also had a place in popular culture. Known for his nerdy look, complete with thick eyeglasses, that image was sealed on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” during Gilda Radner’s “Nerd” sketches. Radner, playing Lisa Loopner, would swoon over Hamlisch.
Hamlisch was principal pops conductor for symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle and San Diego. He was to be announced to the same position with the Philadelphia Orchestra and also was due to lead the New York Philharmonic during its upcoming New Year’s Eve concert.
He leaves behind a legacy in film and music that transcended far beyond notes on the page. As illustrative as the scenes playing out in front of the music, his scores helped define some of Hollywood’s most iconic works.
Hamlisch was born in New York to musical parents. He was a child prodigy and accepted into a Julliard program at age 7.
Movie critic Jeffrey Lyons went to public school with Hamlisch at P.S. 9 on West End Avenue, now called the Mickey Mantle School, from 1949 to 1956.
He spoke with WCBS 880’s Pat Farnack about Hamlisch’s passing.
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“It’s very sad news. We’ll never see his like again, as far as what he has done, the legacy he’s left, the years his career spanned. He’s a modern-day George Gershwin,” Lyons said.
The marquees of Broadway theaters will dim their lights in his memory at exactly 8 p.m. Wednesday for one minute.
Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, called Hamlisch “legendary.”
“His legacy leaves us with a treasury of songs and stories that will always be familiar to theatergoers as they stir up meaningful and heartfelt emotions,” Martin said.
Almost 40 years after “A Chorus Line,” Hamlisch still had the Broadway bug. He was working on two shows with a goal of bringing both to the Great White Way.
STATEMENT FROM BARBRA STREISAND:
“I’m devastated. 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… and recently for me at a benefit for women’s heart disease. 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.”
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