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Marilyn Bergman, Oscar-winning composer, dies at 93

Marilyn Bergman

Marilyn Bergman, the Oscar-winning lyricist who teamed with husband Alan Bergman on “The Way We Were,” “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” and hundreds of other songs, died at her Los Angeles home Saturday. She was 93.
She died of respiratory failure not related to COVID-19, according to a representative, Jason Lee. Her husband was at her bedside when she died.
The Bergmans, who married in 1958, were among the most enduring, successful and productive 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 worked with some of the world’s top melodists, including Marvin Hamlisch, Cy Coleman and Michel Legrand, and were covered by some of the world’s greatest singers, from Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand to Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson.
“If one really is serious about wanting to write songs that are original, that really speak to people, you have to feel like you created something that wasn’t there before — which is the ultimate accomplishment, isn’t it?” Marilyn Bergman told The Huffington Post in 2013. “And to make something that wasn’t there before, you have to know what came before you.”
Their songs included the sentimental Streisand-Neil Diamond duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” Sinatra’s snappy “Nice ’n’ Easy” and Dean Martin’s dreamy “Sleep Warm.” They helped write the uptempo themes to the 1970s sitcoms “Maude” and “Good Times” and collaborated on words and music for the 1978 Broadway show “Ballroom.”
But they were best known for their contributions to films, turning out themes sometimes remembered more than the movies themselves. Among the highlights: Stephen Bishop’s “It Might Be You,” from “Tootsie”; Noel Harrison’s “The Windmills of Your Mind,” from “The Thomas Crown Affair”; and, for “Best Friends,” the James Ingram-Patti Austin duet “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”
Their peak was “The Way We Were,” from the Streisand-Robert Redford romantic drama of the same name. Set to Hamlisch’s moody, pensive melody, with Streisand’s voice rising throughout, it was the top-selling song of 1974 and an instant standard, proof that well into the rock era the public still embraced an old-fashioned ballad.
Fans would have struggled to identify a picture of the Bergmans, or even recognize their names, but they had no trouble summoning the words to “The Way We Were”:
“Memories, may be beautiful and yet / What’s too painful to remember / We simply choose to forget / So it’s the laughter / We will remember / Whenever we remember / The way we were.”
The Bergmans won three Oscars — for “The Way We Were,” “Windmills of Your Mind” and the soundtrack to Streisand’s “Yentl” — and received 16 nominations, three of them in 1983 alone. They also won two Grammys and four Emmys and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Marilyn Bergman became the first woman elected to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and later served as the chair and president. She was also the first chair of the National Recorded Sound Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.
Besides her husband, Bergman is survived by their daughter, Julie Bergman.
(AP)

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