September 29, 2023


Arts Eternal

Marilyn Bergman, Oscar-winning composer, dies at age 93

NEW YORK – Marilyn Bergman, the Oscar-successful lyricist who teamed with partner Alan Bergman on “The Way We Were,” “How Do You Hold the Tunes Actively playing?” and hundreds of other songs, died at her Los Angeles house Saturday. She was 93.

She died of respiratory failure not linked to COVID-19, in accordance to a consultant, Jason Lee. Her husband was at her bedside when she died.

The Bergmans, who married in 1958, had been amongst the most enduring, thriving and effective songwriting partnerships, specializing in introspective ballads for film, television and the stage that combined the romance of Tin Pan Alley with the polish of contemporary pop. They labored with some of the world’s top melodists, like Marvin Hamlisch, Cy Coleman and Michel Legrand, and were being protected by some of the world’s biggest singers, from Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson.

“If just one really is severe about seeking to create tracks that are initial, that definitely discuss to people, you have to truly feel like you produced something that was not there right before — which is the ultimate accomplishment, is not it?” Marilyn Bergman informed The Huffington Submit in 2013. “And to make anything that wasn’t there ahead of, you have to know what came right before you.”


Their tunes provided the sentimental Streisand-Neil Diamond duet “You Do not Carry Me Flowers,” Sinatra’s snappy “Nice ’n’ Easy” and Dean Martin’s dreamy “Sleep Warm.” They helped compose the uptempo themes to the 1970s sitcoms “Maude” and “Good Times” and collaborated on phrases and new music for the 1978 Broadway show “Ballroom.”

But they have been best regarded for their contributions to films, turning out themes sometimes remembered much more than the motion pictures themselves. Among the highlights: Stephen Bishop’s “It May well Be You,” from “Tootsie” Noel Harrison’s “The Windmills of Your Intellect,” from “The Thomas Crown Affair” and, for “Best Mates,” the James Ingram-Patti Austin duet “How Do You Maintain the Music Participating in?”

Their peak was “The Way We Were,” from the Streisand-Robert Redford passionate drama of the very same identify. Set to Hamlisch’s moody, pensive melody, with Streisand’s voice mounting during, it was the top-advertising tune of 1974 and an fast regular, proof that effectively into the rock period the community still embraced an old-fashioned ballad.


Followers would have struggled to identify a photo of the Bergmans, or even understand their names, but they had no trouble summoning the terms to “The Way We Were”:

“Memories, might be wonderful and however / What’s too agonizing to keep in mind / We only pick out to forget / So it is the laughter / We will try to remember / Anytime we keep in mind / The way we have been.”

The Bergmans gained a few Oscars — for “The Way We Have been,” “Windmills of Your Mind” and the soundtrack to Streisand’s “Yentl” — and gained 16 nominations, three of them in 1983 by itself. They also gained two Grammys and 4 Emmys and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Fellow composer Quincy Jones termed news of her demise crushing. “You, together with your beloved Alan, ended up the epitome of Nadia Boulanger’s belief that ‘an artist can under no circumstances be a lot more or a lot less than they are as a human remaining,’” he tweeted.

“To those of us who loved the Bergmans’ lyrics, Marilyn usually takes a little bit our our hearts and souls with her today,” tweeted Norman Lear, creator of “Maude” and “Good Occasions.”


Marilyn Bergman turned the to start with woman elected to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and later on served as the chair and president. She was also the to start with chair of the Nationwide Recorded Sound Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.

Streisand worked with them in the course of her career, recording extra than 60 of their tunes and dedicating an full album, “What Issues Most,” to their product. The Bergmans satisfied her when she was 18, a nightclub singer, and shortly turned shut close friends.

“I just love their words and phrases, I like the sentiment, I adore their exploration of enjoy and associations,” Streisand advised The Linked Push in 2011.

On Saturday, she posted a picture of herself with the Bergmans on Twitter, expressing they ended up like household, as nicely as brilliant lyricists.

“We met more than 60 several years in the past backstage at a tiny nightclub, and never ever stopped loving every other and working together,” Streisand wrote. “Their tracks are timeless, and so is our appreciate. May possibly she relaxation in peace.”


Like Streisand, the Bergmans were being Jews from reduced-center-course households in Brooklyn. They ended up born in the identical hospital, Alan 4 years previously than Marilyn, whose unmarried identify was Katz, and they were lifted in the very same neighborhood and have been followers of audio and motion pictures since childhood. They both moved to Los Angeles in 1950 — Marilyn experienced analyzed English and psychology at New York University — but didn’t meet until finally a few yrs afterwards, when they were being doing work for the exact composer.

The Bergmans appeared to be no cost of the boundaries and tensions of many songwriting groups. They likened their chemistry to housework (a person washes, a single dries) or to baseball (pitching and catching), and ended up so in tune with each other that they struggled to remember who wrote a supplied lyric.

“Our partnership as writers or as partner and spouse?” Marilyn told The Huffington Publish when requested about their partnership. “I think the features of both of those are the very same: Respect, have confidence in, all of that is important in a composing partnership or a business partnership or in a marriage.”


In addition to her partner, Bergman is survived by their daughter, Julie Bergman.


AP media author David Bauder contributed to this report.

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