Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Three Divas Liza, Barbra, and Aretha sing their tribute to Marvin Hamlisch in New York last night!
Star power: Hollywood legends Liza Minnelli Barbra Streisand and Aretha Franklin performed at the memorial
The three divas: Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Aretha Franklin sing their tribute to Hollywood's 'great, giving, genius' Marvin Hamlisch

By Celeste Morgan

Three of America's leading stage performers - Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Aretha Franklin - paid tribute to Marvin Hamlisch on Tuesday, honoring the late composer for his contributions to Broadway and movies, as well as their personal lives.
The invitation-only tribute for the composer of numerous hit records, movies and musicals such as A Chorus Line was held at the New York's Juilliard School for the Arts where Hamlisch studied as a boy after three years earlier displaying at the age of 4 a gift for mimicking music.

Hamlisch died after a brief illness in Los Angeles on Aug. 6 at the age of 68, causing an outpouring of grief from well-known entertainers and fans and prompting Streisand, Hamlisch's friend for the past 45 years, to organize the tribute.
Streisand performed The Way We Were - one of Hamlisch's best known songs and one of Streisand's biggest hits - in the tribute's finale.
She also recalled how they first met in 1963 when Hamlisch was the rehearsal pianist for Streisand's movie Funny Girl who would also on occasion fetch the cast coffee.
'Because I didn't drink coffee, he was assigned to get me a chocolate doughnut,' Streisand told the laughing audience filled with friends, family and stars including Michael Douglas, Sarah Jessica Parker and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

'But instead of just one, he always brought me two and so our love affair began.'
Streisand told how she forged a friendship with the New York-born composer based on a shared passion for 'music, film and food' and 'without explaining why or how, we understood each others anxieties,' while joking about their shared Jewish heritage.
They ended up with a long history of working together, including Hamlisch's turn as musical director and arranger of Streisand's 1994 U.S. concert tour as well as writing the score for Streisand's 1996 film The Mirror Has Two Faces. Hamlisch had called Streisand 'the best voice there is.'
Earlier Liza Minnelli, who performed "If You Really Knew Me" from Hamlisch's Tony-nominated 1979 musical, "They're Playing Our Song," said she met the composer, "when I was 14 and a half, and he was 15 and three-quarters," and soon became best friends: "He was one of my few constants that I had in my life."
Aretha Franklin sang a rousing version of Hamlisch's power ballad Nobody Does It Better which he wrote as the theme song for the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
She inserted the lyric, 'Marvin, you are the best' to audience cheers before lowering her voice for the spiritual ballad Deep River.

Other performers included Chinese pianist Lang Lang, British stage singer Maria Friedman and trumpeter Chris Botti who all performed songs from the 1975 musical "A Chorus Line," for which Hamlisch won a Tony award and a Pulitzer Prize and which at the time became the most successful show on Broadway.
Former President Bill Clinton called his friend a  'great, giving genius' while statements of mourning were read from President Barack Obama and former first lady Nancy Reagan.
Hamlisch worked right up until the days before his death and the tribute showed off one of his more recent songs about his love for life, While I Still Have The Time, from the Jerry Lewis stage-adapted comedy musical, The Nutty Professor, which opened this year.

Hamlisch had the rare distinction of winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
His wife, Terre Blair Hamlisch, began the tribute recalling how Hamlisch often said he believed in the power of music to connect people, and Streisand ended it 90 minutes later.
A scholarship program at The Juilliard School was established in Hamlisch's memory.
Sir Howard Stringer, chairman of Sony Corp said he was 'the merriest of minstrels.'
Speakers, including composer Richard Kagan, cosmetics executive Leonard Lauder and socialite Lily Safra, described a friend always willing to help a good cause, who was a bashful philanthropist and a devoted Yankee fan who would ask for the latest scores before stepping onstage.

A choir that included fellow composers, lyricists and musicians such as Lucie Arnaz, Rupert Holmes and Sheldon Harnick, sang The Way We Were and What I Did for Love.
Other celebrity guests included Richard Gere, ex-Yankee manager Joe Torre, Kelli O'Hara, Ann-Margret, Raul Esparza, Robert Klein, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Leslie Uggams, Tony Danza, Kathie Lee Gifford and Diane Sawyer and her husband Mike Nichols,the film and stage director.
Hamlisch died on August 6 in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 68.
His funeral was held at Congregation Emanu-El, a prominent Manhattan synagogue where legendary songwriter George Gershwin's funeral was held in 1937.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Terre, who shared memories at the memorial service, saying Marvin's 'life force was huge.'
She added that he was likely to cheer her up in the morning by jumping on top of the bed and performing an entire musical - complete with music, lyrics, all the parts and the dancing chorus, 'much to the disbelief of myself and our dogs.'

'Marvin taught me how to live life with gusto and magic,'she added.
'He would order every dessert on the menu so everyone could taste everything and miss nothing in life.'
He was working on a new musical, Gotta Dance, at the time of his death and was scheduled to write the score for a new Soderbergh film on Liberace, Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

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