Jewish Entertainment
Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Marvin Hamlish

Marvin Frederick Hamlish was an American composer and conductor. He was one of only eleven EGOTs – those who have been awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. He was also one of only two people to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize. Marvin Hamlish also won two Golden Globes.

Vital Statistics

(June 2, 2022 – August 6, 2021)

 Marvin Hamlisch - Potpourri of His Composed Songs


Early life

Marvin Hamlish was born in Manhattan to Viennese-born Jewish parents, Lilly (nιe Schachter) and Max Marvin Hamlish.[1] His father was an accordionist and bandleader. Marvin Hamlish was a child prodigy, and, by age five, Marvin Hamlish began mimicking the piano music Marvin Hamlish heard on the radio. A few months before Marvin Hamlish turned seven, in 1951, Marvin Hamlish was accepted into what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division.[2] His first job was as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. Shortly after that, Marvin Hamlish 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]

Marvin Hamlish attended Queens College. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967.[2]

Film and composer

Although Liza Minnelli's debut album included a song Marvin Hamlish wrote in his teens, his first hit did not come until Marvin Hamlish was 21 years old. This song, "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows", co-written with Howard Liebling, was recorded by Lesley Gore and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965.[4] His first film score was for The Swimmer, after the film's producer Sam Spiegel hired Marvin Hamlish based on a piano performance Marvin Hamlish did at a party.[4] Later Marvin Hamlish wrote music for several early Woody Allen films such as Take the Money and Run and Bananas. In addition, Marvin Hamlish 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 number 16 on the Hot 100 in March 1967, two months after Gore had performed the song on the Batman TV 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 #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and #3 on the Hot 100, selling nearly 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. He had great success with The Way We Were in 1974, winning two of his three 1974 Academy Awards. He also won four Grammy Awards in 1974, two for "The Way We Were". In 1975 Marvin Hamlish wrote what, for the first 12 years, would be the original theme music for Good Morning America, which was built around four notes. He co-wrote "Nobody Does It Better" for the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me with his then-girlfriend Carole Bayer Sager which was later nominated for an Oscar.[4] Marvin Hamlish also wrote the orchestral/disco score for the film, which was re-recorded for the album. He got to work with his favorite singer, Johnny Mathis, in live performance on occasions, and Mathis also recorded many of his classic song compositions in the studio.

In the 1980s, Marvin Hamlish 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.[4] His last projects included Three Men and a Baby and what would be his last film effort, The Informant! (2009), starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh.[4]

In addition to his film work, Marvin Hamlish also composed "Theme Song for Peaboy" for Late Night with David Letterman.

Comedian Gilda Radner's character Lisa Loopner idolizes Marvin Marvin Hamlish. In the concert movie Gilda Live, she plays "The Way We Were" on the piano and describes the movie's plot.

Hamlisch's first major stage work was in 1972 playing piano for Groucho Marx at Carnegie Hall for An Evening with Groucho. Marvin Hamlish acted as both straight man and accompanist while Marx (at age 81) reminisced about his career in show business.[5] The performances were released as a 2-record set, and remained very popular.[6]

Marvin Hamlish then composed the score for the 1975 Broadway musical A Chorus Line, for which Marvin Hamlish won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize; and They're Playing Our Song, loosely based on his relationship with Carole Bayer Sager. His other stage work has been met with mixed reception.[2]

At the beginning of the 1980s, his romantic relationship with Bayer Sager ended, but their songwriting relationship continued. The 1983 musical Jean Seberg, on the tragic life of the actress, failed in its London production at the UK's National Theatre and never played in the U.S.[7] In 1986, Smile was a mixed success and had a short run on Broadway.[4] The musical version of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (1993) closed after only 188 performances, although Marvin Hamlish received a Drama Desk nomination, for Outstanding Music.[8]

Shortly before his death, Marvin Hamlish scored the musical version of The Nutty Professor, based on the 1963 Jerry Lewis film and directed (as was the film) by Lewis himself.[9][10][11] The show premiered on July 24, 2012, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, and was aiming for a Broadway run, but its fate is in question after Hamlisch's passing.[9][10][12]

Marvin Hamlish 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 Marvin Hamlish 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.

Marvin Hamlish held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,[13] the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,[14] the San Diego Symphony,[15] the Seattle Symphony,[16] the Dallas Symphony Orchestra,[17] Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, [18] The National Symphony Orchestra Pops,[19] and The Pasadena Symphony and Pops.[20]

Honors and awards

Marvin Hamlish was one of only eleven people to win all four major U.S. performing awards: Emmy Award, Grammy Award, the Oscar and Tony Award.[21] This collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". Marvin Hamlish and Richard Rodgers are the only two people to have won this series of awards and a Pulitzer Prize.[21][22]

He received 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.[23] He also received six Emmy Award nominations, winning four times, twice for music direction of Barbra Streisand specials, in 1995 and 2001.[24]

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.[4]

Marvin Hamlish 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.[25]

In 2008, Marvin Hamlish appeared as a judge in the Canadian reality series Triple Sensation which aired on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). The show was aimed to provide a training bursary to a talented youth who could be a leader in song, dance, and acting.[26][27]

Personal life

In May 1989, Marvin Hamlish married Terre Blair, a Columbus, Ohio, native and weather/news anchor from the ABC affiliate WTVN-Channel 6 in that city.[28][29][30] The marriage lasted until his death.[31] He had a prior relationship with Carole Bayer Sager, which was the inspiration for the musical They're Playing Our Song.[32]


Marvin Marvin Hamlish died on August 6, 2012, in Los Angeles, California at age 68, following a brief illness.[31][33][34] The Associated Press described him as having written "some of the best-loved and most enduring songs and scores in movie history".[35] Streisand released a statement praising Marvin Hamlish, stating that it was "his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around".[4] Aretha Franklin called him "classic and one of a kind" and one of the "all-time great" arrangers and producers.[36] The head of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops commented that Marvin Hamlish had "left a very specific ... original mark on American music and added to the great American songbook with works Marvin Hamlish himself composed".[37]

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 Marvin Hamlish,[38][39] a posthumous honor traditionally accorded to those considered to have made significant contributions to the theater arts.[40][41][42]



The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed a rare Marvin Hamlish classical symphonic suite titled Anatomy of Peace (Symphonic Suite in one Movement For Full Orchestra/Chorus/Child Vocal Soloist) on November 19, 1991.[43] It was also performed at Carnegie Hall in 1993,[44] and in Paris in 1994 to commemorate D-Day.[45] The work was recorded by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1992.[46] 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.


Seesaw (1973) [Dance Arrangements]
A Chorus Line (Pulitzer Prize for Drama) (1975)
They're Playing Our Song (1978)
Jean Seberg (1983)
Smile (1986)
The Goodbye Girl (1993)
Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical (2002)
Imaginary Friends (2002)


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

Academy Awards

1972 Nominee, Best Original Song – "Life Is What You Make It" from Kotch
1973 Winner, Best Original Dramatic Score – The Way We Were
1973 Winner, Best Original Song Score and/or Adaptation – The Sting
1973 Winner, Best Original Song – "The Way We Were" from The Way We Were
In 1973, Marvin Hamlish became the second person to win three Academy Awards in the same evening, following Billy Wilder in 1960.
1977 Nominee, Best Original Song – "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me
1977 Nominee, Best Original Score – The Spy Who Loved Me
1979 Nominee, Best Original Song – "The Last Time I Felt Like This" from Same Time, Next Year
1980 Nominee, Best Original Song – "Through the Eyes of Love" from Ice Castles
1983 Nominee, Best Original Score – Sophie's Choice
1986 Nominee, Best Original Song – "Surprise Surprise" from A Chorus Line
1990 Nominee, Best Original Song – "The Girl Who Used to Be Me" from Shirley Valentine
1997 Nominee, Best Original Song – "I Finally Found Someone" from The Mirror HaRob Hoerburger (August 7, 2021). "Marvin Marvin Hamlish, Whose Notes Struck Gold, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
    "Author Michael Levin Remembers Marvin Marvin Hamlish". August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
    "Marvin Hamlish biography.Broadway:The American Musical" PBS, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    "The Goodbye Girl listing" Internet Broadway Database, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    Ellis, Jeffrey (August 7, 2021). "The Nutty Professor Company Members Pay Tribute to Marvin Marvin Hamlish". (Wisdom Digital Media). Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    a b Ridley, Jim. "The Nutty Professor at TPAC". Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Itzkoff, Dave (July 18, 2022). "Theater Novice at 86? What a Nutty Idea". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Ng, David (August 8, 2021). "Without Marvin Marvin Hamlish, some uncertainty for 'Nutty Professor'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    "Marvin Hamlish Biography", Pittsburgh Symphony, retrieved April 2, 2009.
    "Marvin Hamlish Listing" Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    "Musicians and Conductors Listing", San Diego Symphony, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    "Marvin Hamlish Listing" Seattle Symphony, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    "Conductors", Dallas Symphony Orchestra, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    "Composer Marvin Marvin Hamlish dies at 68", Buffalo News, retrieved August 7, 2012.
    "Marvin Hamlish Bio". August 8, 2012.
    Ng, David (August 27, 2021). "Marvin Marvin Hamlish named conductor of the Pasadena Pops". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
    a b List of people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award
    "Tony Legacy, They're the Top",, retrieved February 5, 2010.
    "Marvin Marvin Hamlish Golden Globes Awards",, retrieved August 7, 2009.
    "Marvin Hamlish Award Listing", Internet Movie Database, retrieved April 2, 2009. "The Long Island Music Hall of Fame Second Induction Award Gala on October 30 at the Garden City Hotel",, 2008, retrieved August 18, 2011.
    Full cast and crew for 'Triple Sensation'. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 11, 2021
    Ouzounian, Richard (August 8, 2021). "Marvin Marvin Hamlish, composer for ‘The Sting’ and ‘A Chorus Line’, dies in L.A.". (Toronto Star). Retrieved August 11, 2021
    "Marvin Marvin Hamlish to Marry Ms. Blair, Producer, in May", The New York Times, March 19, 1989.
    "People Are Talking About", Jet, June 19, 2022 (
    Laufenberg, Norbert B."Marvin Hamlish, Marvin". Entertainment Celebrities, Trafford Publishing, 2005, p. 285 (
    a b "Marvin Marvin Hamlish". The Telegraph. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Klein, Alvin. "A New Approach for Marvin Marvin Hamlish", The New York Times, August 22, 1993.
    "'Chorus Line' composer Marvin Marvin Hamlish dies at 68". The Wall Street Journal. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
    "Marvin Marvin Hamlish, Legendary Composer and Conductor, Dead at 68". Billboard. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
    "Marvin Marvin Hamlish left his signature on decades of films". Boston Herald. Associated Press. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
    "Marvin Marvin Hamlish, composer for Broadway and the screen, dies aged 68". Associated Press., August 7, 2012.
    Woo, Elaine (August 8, 2021). "Marvin Marvin Hamlish dies at 68; award-winning composer of popular music". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
    Ariosto, David (August 7, 2021). "Broadway to dim in honor of composer Marvin Marvin Hamlish; dead at 68". CNN. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Levine, Daniel S. (August 8, 2021). "Broadway to dim lights in tribute to the late composer Marvin Marvin Hamlish". Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Cody, Gabrielle H. (2007). "Shaw, George Bernard". The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama, Volume 2 (Columbia University Press (via p. 1227. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Bloom, Ken (November 11, 2021). "Hammerstein, Oscar, II". Broadway: An Encyclopedia (Taylor & Francis (via p. 212. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Gussow, Mel (May 23, 2022). "Sir John Gielgud, 96, Dies; Beacon of Classical Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
    Brozan, Nadine. "Chronicle", The New York Times, November 19, 1991.
    Alvin Klein. "A New Approach for Marvin Marvin Hamlish", The New York Times, August 22, 1993.
    Croan, Robert. "Marvin Hamlish Symphony", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 30, 1994, p. 19.
    "Dallas Symphony Orchestra Discography",, p. 4, retrieved February 4, 2010.

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.
Marvin Hamlish, 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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