“These are Marvin’s melodies, Marvin Hamlisch lives in them. This is who Marvin Hamlisch was.” — Terre Blair
Aretha Franklin gave a soulful rendition of “Nobody Does It Better” from the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me” Franklin, in a white suit, changed some of the lyrics to the sexy James Bond song “Nobody Does It Better,” to “Marvin, you were the best.” Hamlisch had co-written the No. 1 R&B hit “Break It to Me Gently” with Carole Bayer Sager for Franklin.
A Celebration of Life — Marvin Hamlisch
Liza Minnelli sang “If You Really Knew Me” from the musical “They’re Playing Our Song,” Minnelli, in a beaded dress, said she met Hamlisch when she was 14 and he was 15 and they became friends immediately. He later arranged many of Minnelli’s albums, including her first two as well as “Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli ‘Live’ at the London Palladium.”
“He was one of my few constants,” she said, getting teary on stage. “He was always there. He always was and always will be.”
The memorial also included the song “While I Still Have the Time,” which is part of the new musical based on the Jerry Lewis film “The Nutty Professor” that debuted in Tennessee this summer. (Kevin Cole at the Piano.)
Barbra Streisand brought the crowd to its feet when she finished “The Way We Were” from the film of the same name. Streisand, who wore all black and sat on a stool, said she first met Hamlisch in 1963 when he was her rehearsal pianist in her breakout Broadway show, “Funny Girl.”. Their lives would intersect in personal and professional ways over the years. She sang his “The Way We Were” to a Grammy Award win in 1974, and he played at her wedding in 1998.
The 90-minute memorial also boasted performances by Itzhak Perlman, Michael Feinstein, Chris Botti, Maria Friedman, Lang Lang, Essential Voices USA. Holli Howard, Emily Fletcher and Dena DiGiacinto performed selections from A Chorus Line.
Hamlisch went on to became one of the most decorated artists in history, winning three Oscars, four Emmys, four Grammys, a Tony, a Pulitzer and two Golden Globes.
He was working on a new musical, “Gotta Dance,” at the time of his death and was scheduled to write the score for a new Steven Soderbergh film on Liberace, “Behind the Candelabra,” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
Excerpts from AP — Photos by Len Prince.