Evening Standard/Getty Images
Marvin Hamlisch in 1979.
A major force in American popular music has died. Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote music for The Sting, A Chorus Line and dozens of other movies, TV and stage shows, died in Los Angeles. He was 68.
Hamlisch won just about every big-time award there is, sometimes more than once. For The Sting, his adaptation of Scott Joplin rags won him an Oscar and sparked renewed interest in Joplin.
One Academy Award would've been a major victory for a composer who was just shy of his 30th birthday, but in 1974 Hamlisch won two more Oscars: both original song and original score for The Way We Were. Three Oscars in one year. And to think that "singular sensation" was still to come.
A Chorus Line, with "One" as its centerpiece, opened in 1975. In that show, Hamlisch's music tells as much of a story as Edward Kleban's lyrics, says Donna McKechnie, who played Cassie in the original Broadway cast. McKechnie remembers when director and choreographer Michael Bennett sat the entire cast down to hear - for the first time - one of the songs from the show.
"Marvin played, at the piano, 'At the Ballet.' It was so stunning for all of us because it spoke to us. And I knew immediately when I heard that, we're into something good," she says. "That is the most beautiful song to convey the simple everyday feelings of a dancer."
Imagination, energy and passion - McKechnie says Hamlisch seemed to always have an endless supply. She says they were even planning a concert together before he died.