By Edwin Folven, 8/09/2012
The world is remembering composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died Monday at age 68 after suffering from a sudden and brief illness.
Hamlisch was a musical prodigy who was accepted into the prestigious Juilliard School at age 7. He went on to become a prolific composer, and is known for his work in both theatre and film. He composed memorable songs for films such as “The Spy Who Loved Me”, “The Way We Were”, “Sophie’s Choice”, “Ordinary People” and “The Sting”. Hamlisch was also known for composing the music to Broadway hits such as “A Chorus Line”, “The Goodbye Girl” and “They’re Playing Our Song”. He was a multiple Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner — one of only nine people to receive the four major entertainment awards — and also received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “A Chorus Line”. In 1974, Hamlisch became the first individual to receive Academy Awards in three musical categories for writing the song “The Way We Were”, for composing the score to “The Way We Were”, and for arranging the music for “The Sting”. Additionally, Hamlisch was the principal conductor for the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, which he conducted as recently as July 21, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and several other symphonies throughout the United States. He worked extensively with Barbara Streisand, including on the Broadway production of “Funny Girl”.
At the time of his death, Hamlisch was reportedly composing works for a new musical titled “Gotta Dance”, as well as the score for a film on Liberace by Stephen Soderbergh that stars actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. He also recently completed the music for the stage adaptation of “The Nutty Professor”.
Perhaps the most decorated modern composer, Hamlisch does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ana Martinez, who oversees the Walk of Fame for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said Hamlisch was never nominated for a star. Martinez said the chamber has a formal policy that a potential recipient or their representatives, such as a film studio or recording company, have to fill out paperwork requesting a star.
“Everybody has to fill out the paperwork. We can’t just give them out,” Martinez said. “He was never nominated. It’s unfortunate, because he would have been suitable.”
Martinez added the chamber has a policy of waiting for five years before someone can be nominated posthumously for a star. She said the rule was created several years ago by the late Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant, and the Walk of Fame Committee, which believed there should be a “cooling off” period before a celebrity is honored posthumously.