Barbra, Liza and Aretha Honor Marvin Hamlisch

Three Divas Sing at Memorial for 'Chorus Line' Composer

By Reuters

Published September 19, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Three of America’s leading stage performers - Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Aretha Franklin - paid tribute to Marvin Hamlisch on Tuesday, honoring the late composer for his contributions to Broadway and movies, as well as their personal lives.

Wave to Crowd: Sarah Jessica Parker arrives at memorial for Marvin Hamlisch.
getty images
Wave to Crowd: Sarah Jessica Parker arrives at memorial for Marvin Hamlisch.

The invitation-only tribute for the composer of numerous hit records, movies and musicals such as “A Chorus Line” was held at the New York’s Juilliard School for the Arts where Hamlisch studied as a boy after three years earlier displaying at the age of 4 a gift for mimicking music.

Hamlisch died after a brief illness in Los Angeles on Aug. 6 at the age of 68, causing an outpouring of grief from well-known entertainers and fans and prompting Streisand, Hamlisch’s friend for the past 45 years, to organize the tribute.

Streisand performed “The Way We Were - one of Hamlisch’s best known songs and one of Streisand’s biggest hits - in the tribute’s finale. She also recalled how they first met in 1963 when Hamlisch was the rehearsal pianist for Streisand’s movie “Funny Girl,” who would also on occasion fetch the cast coffee.

“Because I didn’t drink coffee, he was assigned to get me a chocolate doughnut,” Streisand told the laughing audience filled with friends, family and stars including Michael Douglas, Sarah Jessica Parker and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman. “But instead of just one, he always brought me two and so our love affair began.”

Streisand told how she forged a friendship with the New York-born composer based on a shared passion for “music, film and food,” and “without explaining why or how, we understood each others anxieties,” while joking about their shared Jewish heritage.

MINNELLI’S CONSTANT

They ended up with a long history of working together, including Hamlisch’s turn as musical director and arranger of Streisand’s 1994 U.S. concert tour as well as writing the score for Streisand’s 1996 film, “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” Hamlisch had called Streisand “the best voice there is.”

Earlier Liza Minnelli, who performed “If You Really Knew Me” from Hamlisch’s Tony-nominated 1979 musical, “They’re Playing Our Song,” said she met the composer, “when I was 14 and a half, and he was 15 and three-quarters,” and soon became best friends: “He was one of my few constants that I had in my life.”

Aretha Franklin sang a rousing version of Hamlisch’s power ballad “Nobody Does It Better,” which he wrote as the theme song for the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” She inserted the lyric, “Marvin, you are the best” to audience cheers before lowering her voice for the spiritual ballad “Deep River.”

Other performers included Chinese pianist Lang Lang, British stage singer Maria Friedman and trumpeter Chris Botti who all performed songs from the 1975 musical “A Chorus Line,” for which Hamlisch won a Tony award and a Pulitzer Prize and which at the time became the most successful show on Broadway.

Hamlisch worked right up until the days before his death and the tribute showed off one of his more recent songs about his love for life, “While I Still Have The Time,” from the Jerry Lewis stage-adapted comedy musical, “The Nutty Professor,” which opened this year.

Hamlisch had the rare distinction of winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

His wife, Terre Blair Hamlisch, began the tribute recalling how Hamlisch often said he believed in the power of music to connect people, and Streisand ended it 90 minutes later.

A scholarship program at The Juilliard School was established in Hamlisch’s memory.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.