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Marvin Hamlisch

(1944 - 2012)

Marvin Hamlisch was a Jewish American composer and one of only four people ever to win a Pulitzer Prize and an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony Award.

Hamlisch (born June 2, 1944) was born in New York to Jewish parents of Austrian descent.  A child prodigy on the piano, Hamlisch was accepted into what is now the Julliard School Pre-College Division when he was only seven years old. Over the course of the next few years he worked as a rehearsal pianist with Barbara Streisand and as a party player for Sam Spiegel. In 1963, Hamlisch enrolled at Queens College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1967.

At the age of 21, Hamlisch scored his first true hit when the song "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965. In 1968, he composed his first film score for the movie The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster and Janet Landgard. 

Real success for Hamlisch came in the 1970's. In 1973, he adapted ragtime music for the movie The Sting, whose theme song hit #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and #3 on the Hot 100.  In 1974, he was two Academy Awards and four Grammy Awards for his musical score to the romantic drama The Way We Were. In 1975, he composed the score for the Broadway musical "A Chorus Line," winning both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. In 1977, he co-wrote the lead song for the James Bond classic The Spy Who Loved Me for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

Through the 1980's and 1990's, he continued to compose new musical scores and also worked with Barbara Streisand on her 1994 concert tour of the US and England as well as her television special, "Barbara Streisand: The Concert," for which he won two Emmy Awards.

In total, Hamlisch won three Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, four Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Tony Award. He was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Soundtrack Awards in 2009. His musical scores appeared in 45 movies and films, including such classics as A Streetcar Named Desire, Sophie's Choice, and The Informant.

Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Hamlisch served as principal pops conductor for orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle, and San Diego.

On August 6, 2012, at the age of 68, Hamlisch passed away following a brief illness. Marking his passing, Streisand released a statement praising Hamlisch, stating that "his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around." In honor of Hamlisch's work in the arts, Manhattan's forty Broadway theatres all dimmed their lights for one minute.

Sources: The Forward (August 8, 2012), Washington Post (August 8, 2012), CNN (August 7, 2012) Marvin Hamlisch Official Website, Wikipedia