What I did for love
August 7, 2012 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Composer Marvin Hamlisch is dead at 68. Mr. Hamlisch was one of only eleven people to win all four major US performing awards: Emmy Award (he won 4), Grammy Award, the Oscar (3 awards) and the Tony Award

Mr. Hamlisch was the composer of A Chorus Line (Pulitzer Prize), They’re Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success. He wrote the motion picture scores for The Way We Were, The Sting, Sophie’s Choice, Ordinary People, The Swimmer, Three Men and a Baby, Ice Castles, Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Save the Tiger, and The Informant.

He was an alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.

The world premiere of his new musical, The Nutty Professor, opened on July 31 in Nashville, and is bound for Broadway.

The music of Marvin Hamlisch
posted by roomthreeseventeen (63 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
On top of those 4 awards, he also won a pair of Golden Globes. They don't make 'em like him any more, that's for sure.

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posted by jquinby at 6:41 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody did it better.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:46 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


His soundtrack to The Sting was one of my earliest memories of listening to music.

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posted by gauche at 6:47 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Many of us Generation Xers probably knew him best from his appearances on Captain Kangaroo (which I can find zero online evidence of, but which I completely remember because I thought Hamlisch was a funny name).
posted by hydropsyche at 6:49 AM on August 7, 2012



posted by DigDoug at 6:52 AM on August 7, 2012



posted by pearlybob at 6:54 AM on August 7, 2012


Just did an audible OMG.
He rose to height of fame when I was a college music major. IIRC a friend and I used to make fun of him a bit - tho I recently learned same person had subsequently worked with him.
And I did (still do) luv Chorus Line. I'd just been thinking recently that he'd outlived all the other people credited as creators of that show, who died some years ago.
All of them too young.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:54 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by shakespeherian at 6:57 AM on August 7, 2012


A Chorus Line is one of the things that drove me to theater. That, and Shakespeare, and Equus.

I've had some very, very conflicted feelings about that path as of late; things haven't quite worked out for me as well as I'd hoped and dreamed, and sometimes this kind of life doesn't quite match the fervor with which I used to sing "What I Did For Love" when I was about fourteen and fifteen, and dreaming and hoping. I said that I knew it would be hard and I wouldn't get rich and that I was doing it for love anyway so whatever, but I didn't really get then just HOW hard and how NOT-rich I would get, and how conflicted that love would be.

And it's not even "for love" that I'm doing this either, or anyone else I know. Theater is a sort of strange madness and obsession that's caught hold of some of us to the point that no matter how broke we get and how old and beat-up we get, we simply cannot leave. Even if you never go out on the stage during the show, there is a kind of magic in the moment when the lights go out and you hear that sound of an audience settling down to quiet, like birds stopping their singing when the light starts to fade. There's a power in pulling the strings behind the curtain to make strangers see and hear and feel what you want them to. And there is a rush when a middle-aged woman in a rented costume reciting a speech from Hamlet takes a drink from a plastic cup you spray-painted a week ago, and you hear someone out in the audience gasp -- because to them, they are watching Queen Gertrude unexpectedly drink poison.

Theater people can't give that up. We won't. And "What I Did For Love" catches that, and the whole "Chorus Line" soundtrack captures the weird and winding and crazy roads many of us take to get there. And in my case, Chorus Line WAS one of the signposts that pushed me there, and Marvin Hamlisch was one of my guides on the way. It's been a more crazy and chaotic life than I had planned, and at times I wish I'd been content with something else, but at the same time I know there was no chance I'd have been content with something else, because of the way I just KNEW what Hamlisch was talking about when I heard Chorus Line.

I made a point of visiting The Globe this summer when I was in London, to pay my respects to someone who had such an impact on my path; I'm going to say to Hamlisch exactly what I whispered to the ghost of Shakespeare, who was still hovering around the house --

"Thanks, you bastard."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on August 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


I loved this old episode of "Politically Incorrect", with guests Marvin Hamlisch and Chuck D. Hamlisch tucked that episode in his pocket and ran away with it, smiling all the way. By the end of the show, Chuck D turned to him and said, "You and me? We are going to do something together." I am sure many people wanted to say the same.

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posted by hmo at 7:07 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


“I’m not one of those people who says, ‘I never read reviews,’ because I don’t believe those people,” Mr. Hamlisch said. “I think they read ‘em. These songs are my babies. And I always say, it’s like having a baby in a hospital, taking a Polaroid and going up to someone and saying, ‘What do you think?’ And he goes, ‘I give you a 3.’ That’s what criticism is like. You’ve worked on this thing forever – ‘I give you a 3.’ And it’s part of you. That’s the bargain you’ve made.”
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:12 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I liked his songwriting for Woody Allen's Bananas, and you have to give him credit (along with Joshua Rifkin) as a major contribution to the Scott Joplin revival of the 1970s.

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posted by jonp72 at 7:20 AM on August 7, 2012


__________
__'=='____
__________

posted by tilde at 7:21 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by Cash4Lead at 7:22 AM on August 7, 2012


EGAT!
posted by sourwookie at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:27 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by ariel_caliban at 7:28 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by immlass at 7:40 AM on August 7, 2012


EGAT!

'EGAT?' EGOT.

Egads..!

posted by Capt. Renault at 7:40 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


As jquinby said, they don't make 'em like him anymore. I know I would've never thought that he'd go before Jerry Lewis, that's for sure. RIP.
posted by blucevalo at 7:42 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:49 AM on August 7, 2012



posted by Smart Dalek at 7:52 AM on August 7, 2012



posted by Gelatin at 7:55 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by koucha at 7:56 AM on August 7, 2012


God damn it. Not another one.

I, like so many of my contemporaries, learned to play The Entertainer (and many other Joplin rags) purely because of Mr. Hamlisch, and for that pleasure alone I owe him thanks.

Just saw a terrific local theater production of Chorus Line and left thinking wow, the music is so good, it actually elevates the performers. And I marveled then at how much impact Hamlisch has actually had on our ears.

A life too short, but a life making wonderful music--what could be better?

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posted by kinnakeet at 7:56 AM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]



posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:08 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by Hanuman1960 at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2012


.

( thank you for that inside headline. perfect... )
Gone,
Love is never gone.
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember.
posted by mikelieman at 8:25 AM on August 7, 2012


I remember him on an episode of the great space coaster, seemed like a great guy.
posted by LouieLoco at 8:27 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had the privilege of spending some time with him at a party once. There were a number of professionally funny people there, too, but no one was funnier. Like, make-you-cry-and-almost-pee-your-pants funny.

Thanks for the laughs, as well as the music.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:27 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


For a change, I have to say that, wow, he was younger than I had thought.

Thanks for being The Entertainer, man.
posted by ardgedee at 8:33 AM on August 7, 2012


"At The Ballet." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyu--xC72jg

Best song from Chorus Line. Beautiful music, poignant lyrics.I think Hamlisch said it was his favorite song from the score.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:44 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many of us Generation Xers probably knew him best from his appearances on Captain Kangaroo (which I can find zero online evidence of, but which I completely remember because I thought Hamlisch was a funny name).

He also appeared on The Great Space Coaster with some regularity. I always liked him.

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posted by MissySedai at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He also appeared on The Great Space Coaster with some regularity. I always liked him.

Wow, I didn't know that. My father in law wrote The Great Space Coaster.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'know what? Too young.



posted by tzikeh at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2012


My father in law wrote The Great Space Coaster.

Thank him for me. My brothers and I watched that show every morning before school, and I still call one of 'em Goriddle.
posted by MissySedai at 9:23 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


MissySedal, unfortunately he passed away a few years ago. Hopefully, he and Marvin are having a nice reunion.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:24 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


EGOT!
posted by the1inBK at 9:30 AM on August 7, 2012


This is quite sad. I remember seeing previews of Sweet Smell in Chicago before it went to Broadway and loving it (seems not many did, unfortunately). When I was a kid, I quite liked the Dallas Symphony recording of Anatomy of Peace, which I checked out from the library. I'm not sure it would stand up now so well against all the symphonies I've come to know and cherish, but it was accessible and interesting when I was just discovering that world.

And of course, A Chorus Line. If I had a nickle for every time I sang "One" in a show choir, or played piano for an audition for someone singing "What I did for love," well.

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posted by Lutoslawski at 9:35 AM on August 7, 2012


I heard his music a lot as a kid, but I think the first time I learned his name (or at least remembered it) is when I watched Gilda Radner as Lisa Loopner, who adored him. His name popped up in the Loopner sketches on SNL, and also in Radner's show/album (which I listened to a million times) Gilda Live. Here she is performing a version of "The Way We Were", and talking about her dream of someday double-dating with Marvin and the song's two lyricists.
posted by theatro at 9:56 AM on August 7, 2012


As if his achievements noted here were not enough, Hamlisch was also Groucho Marx's musical accompanist when Groucho played Carnegie Hall 40 years ago.
posted by jleisek at 10:04 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by Joey Michaels at 10:28 AM on August 7, 2012


EmpressCallipygos said everything I might have wanted to say, much better than I probably would have.
posted by kyrademon at 10:35 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always loved A Chorus Line but seeing the documentary Every Little Step absolutely blew my mind. It has snippets of the tapes that Michael Bennett used as source material. Many of the lyrics that Marvin put so perfectly to music were taken verbatim from Broadway dancers talking about their lives.


posted by Wordwoman at 10:36 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


He even made disco appealing!
posted by Quasimike at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2012


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posted by devon at 11:25 AM on August 7, 2012


♪♫
posted by Splunge at 11:41 AM on August 7, 2012


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(Yes, if you have any interest at all, take Wordwoman's implied advice and watch Every Little Step.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:46 AM on August 7, 2012


Only 68. What a loss for his family, his friends, the world.
posted by alms at 12:09 PM on August 7, 2012


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posted by trip and a half at 12:12 PM on August 7, 2012


Gilda Radner as Lisa Loopner, who adored him.

The original SNL and B'way musicals like CL - two of my biggest influences back then in my teens/ early 20s.

Damn, still miss Gilda. I hope she and MH are having a good laugh & a little song together somewhere.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:29 PM on August 7, 2012



posted by Augenblick at 1:20 PM on August 7, 2012


Here's hoping Cher has finally figured out how to pronounce his name.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2012



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posted by blurker at 2:33 PM on August 7, 2012


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posted by magstheaxe at 3:04 PM on August 7, 2012


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I missed seeing him the last time he conducted at Wolf Trap, too. Damn. I figured I had a few more years at least.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:22 PM on August 7, 2012


Been hearing about this all day. His was a giant talent, and he made his mark upon the world in so many ways that will endure for generations. That said, 68 is too young.

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posted by hippybear at 6:35 PM on August 7, 2012


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posted by rtha at 6:42 PM on August 7, 2012


I have certainly enjoyed hearing the NPR archive interviews today with Mr. Hamlisch. What an energetic, cheerful talent.

RIP, Sir.
posted by bz at 6:51 PM on August 7, 2012


What a loss. Between Hamlisch and Mark O'Donnell (who wrote the book to Hairspray), this has been a terrible week for musical theatre artists who are too young to go. Times like these I look upwards and think, "How many people does he NEED?" (How many boys, how many girls?) The fiance reasonably pointed out, "everyone," but it's still a shame.

To lift the spirits a little: This is apparently what the stage of the Newman Theatre, which premiered A Chorus Line, looked like this evening. Appropriately ghostlit.
posted by ilana at 7:26 PM on August 7, 2012


I had the good fortune of getting to see him live several years ago. The music, the sparkling wit: that was true entertainment! Thank you for sharing your talent and your passion, Marvin! R.I.P.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:37 PM on August 7, 2012


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posted by smirkette at 11:09 PM on August 7, 2012


Lollipops in the Midst of Grief
posted by Wordwoman at 6:31 PM on August 14, 2012


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