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Marvin Hamlisch, 'Chorus Line,' 'Sting' composer, dies at 68

August 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
"Chorus Line" and "The Sting" composer Marvin Hamlisch died Monday in Los Angeles, a family spokesman said. He was 68.

According to spokesman Jason Lee, Hamlisch died following a brief illness. No other details about his death were released.

Hamlisch's work can be found from Hollywood to Broadway, though he was perhaps best known for adapting composer Scott Joplin on "The Sting." The New York-born composer wrote over 40 film scores, including "Sophie's Choice," "Ordinary People," "The Way We Were" and "Take the Money and Run." His latest work came for Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant!"

He became one of the most decorated artists in history, winning three Oscars, four Emmys, four Grammys, a Tony, a Pulitzer and three Golden Globes. On Broadway, Hamlisch received both a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for "A Chorus Line" - the second longest-running American show in Broadway history - and wrote the music for "The Goodbye Girl" and "Sweet Smell of Success."

Music has always been part of Hamlisch's life. At the age of 7, Hamlisch studied at the Juilliard School of Music, having stunned the admissions committee with his renditions of "Goodnight Irene" in any key they desired. As a teenager, he traded piano recitals for song writing. He would eventually go on to earn his bachelor's in music from Queens College of the City University of New York.

Hamlisch got his first important job in the theater in 1963 as rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of "Funny Girl" with Barbra Streisand. That began a collaboration with Streisand that would last throughout his life. Their friendship grew, professionally and personally, and he played at singer's wedding to James Brolin in 1998.

Streisand said she was "devastated" to learn of Hamlisch's death. In a statement, she expressed an appreciation for his friendship.

"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...He was a true musical genius, but above all that, he was a beautiful human being. I will truly miss him."

Hamlisch arranged many of Liza Minnelli's albums, including "Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli 'Live' at the London Palladium." Minnelli on Tuesday called Hamlisch "one of the funniest people I knew. I will miss his talent, our laughter and friendship, but mostly I will miss Marvin."

"I have lost my first lifelong best friend, and sadly we have lost a splendid, splendid talent."

Hamlisch was principal pops conductor for symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle and San Diego at the time of his death.

"During his time in Pasadena, he was beloved in our community and made an enormous impact with everyone he encountered. He brought a tireless humor and enthusiasm to the stage, and was loved by our audience, musicians, and staff," the Pasadena Symphony and POPS said in a statement released Tuesday. "Marvin was here when we needed him with his vision and artistic guidance. His music leaves an unforgettable legacy to the world."

Hamlisch was working on a new musical, "Gotta Dance," at the time of his death and was scheduled to write the score for a new Soderbergh film on Liberace, "Behind the Candelabra," starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre, a television producer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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