Marvin Hamlisch, Composer for Stage and Screen, 1944 - 2012

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 7 2012 10:54 AM

Composer Marvin Hamlisch, 1944 - 2012

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Marvin Hamlisch in 2004

Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

The show 30 Rock has helped popularize the EGOT, the rare entertainment-award grand slam made up of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died yesterday in Los Angeles at age 68, did the EGOT two better: He also won a Pulitzer (for A Chorus Line), and a Golden Globe (two, in fact, for "Life Is What You Make It" and "The Way We Were").

Born in New York to Viennese Jewish parents, he was a rehearsal pianist on Broadway before he turned 20. He had his first hit at 21, when Lesley Gore recorded his song "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows"—and just a few years back his score for The Informant! was hailed as one of the best and most inventive of 2009.

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He was also a great talk show guest. A quarter century ago, promoting a new TV version of The Entertainer, for which he had composed music, he went on The Tonight Show and accompanied Bing Crosby and Ray Bolger on the piano. The song they performed: "The Only Way To Go."

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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