Marvin Hamlisch Dies: Oscar-Winning Composer Dead At 68 After Brief Illness

Marvin Hamlisch, who composed scores for dozens of movies and plays including A Chorus Line and The Way We Were, has died in Los Angeles at 68 following a brief illness.

Hamlisch collapsed and died Monday after suffering a brief illness, reported. The word came from Hamlisch’s agent, Ken Sunshine, but further details were not available.

His career included composing for both the stage and screen, and his repertoire ranged from symphonies to rhythm and blues hits. He was also one of a very select few to win all major awards: including three Academy Awards, four Emmys, four Grammys, a Tony, and three Golden Globes.

Marvin Hamlisch also took on some of Hollywood’s biggest movies, like Sophie’s Choice, Ordinary People, The Way We Were, and Take the Money and Run. His latest work was on Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! in 2009.

His impact wasn’t limited to movies. On the stage, Hamlisch won a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for the long-running hit A Chorus Line. He worked up until his death, and, at the time of his death, he was scheduled to fly to Nashville to see a production of his musical The Nutty Professor.

Hamlisch’s work even touched the pop music world. He wrote the No. 1 R&B hit “Break It to Me Gently” which was performed by Aretha Franklin. In 1974, he won a Grammy for best new artist and for song of the year for Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”

Aretha Franklin, who called Marvin Hamlisch one of the all-time great producers, spoke highly of him after learning of his death.

“He was classic and one of a kind,” Franklin said Tuesday. “Who will ever forget ‘The Way We Were’?”

Despite his success, Hamlisch was still sensitive to reviews, the New York Times reported. In a July interview he mentioned how he became closely attached to every musical piece he created.

Hamlisch said:

I’m not one of those people who says, ‘I never read reviews,’ because I don’t believe those people. I think they read ‘em. These songs are my babies. And I always say, it’s like having a baby in a hospital, taking a Polaroid and going up to someone and saying, ‘What do you think?’ And he goes, ‘I give you a 3.’ That’s what criticism is like. You’ve worked on this thing forever — ‘I give you a 3.’ And it’s part of you. That’s the bargain you’ve made.

Marvin Hamlisch seemed destined for musical greatness. He attended the Julliard School of Music at age 7, stunning the admissions committee with renditions of “Goodnight Irene” in any key they asked him to play, reported.