Few conductors have had the rapport with audiences that Marvin had. He could carry on conversations with adults and children and make the audience roar with laughter at his ad-libs. His comedic timing might have been honed from his role as an accompanist and straight man for Groucho Marx in the 1970s.
When he died, he was at the top of his game. A musical he had written, "The Nutty Professor," based on the Jerry Lewis film, had just opened in Nashville to good reviews. He hoped it would go to Broadway.
Marvin was the principle pops conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony and Pops, Seattle Symphony and San Diego Symphony. He was also working on music for a film about the life of Liberace and numerous other projects.
Marvin once said he would like to "put something on earth that wasn't there yesterday." He succeeded.
A line from the Alan and Marilyn Bergman song "The Way We Were" -- for which Marvin wrote the music, which was made famous by Barbra Streisand, for whom he was once a rehearsal pianist -- seems a fitting epitaph to this musical giant: "So it's the laughter we will remember. Whenever we remember, the way we were."
Broadway and Hollywood have lost an irreplaceable musical masterpiece. Those who knew and loved Marvin Hamlisch, the man, have lost a part of our hearts and an irreplaceable friend.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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