Marvin Hamlisch: 1944-2012

 

I first met Marvin when I was 12 years old. My parents were driving my brother David and me to something in Los Angeles, and we spotted Marvin crossing the street. We breathlessly squealed out to our folks to stop the car then dashed into the clothing store he had just entered and cornered him, manicly yelping, "Mr. Hamlisch, Mr. Hamlisch, we love your music!" He was taken aback that two kids recognized him. He said, "Oh, do you know me from the Academy Awards?" (He had just won three Oscars at the 1974 ceremony for The Sting and the song and score to The Way We Were.) We snapped back: "No, we loved you WAY before that. We snuck a tape recorder into a drive-in in Bakersfield to record your scores to Take the Money and Run and Bananas." Even though he had just completed his Oscar hat trick, I felt compelled to assure him, "Someday you're going to be really big!"

Laura Engel and I had the good fortune to represent Marvin. A favorite moment was when Steven Soderbergh asked Marvin to score The Informant! (2009). It was an incredibly gonzo score, and a great bond formed between Marvin and Steven. Marvin was just in Los Angeles last week to start work on Soderbergh's latest, Behind the Candelabra, after the opening in Nashville earlier in the week of his new musical, The Nutty Professor.

I will miss hearing Marvin's endless showbiz stories (he played piano on Groucho Marx's comeback tour in the early 1970s). He would regale Laura and me with movie gossip accompanied by his infectious, bellowing laugh. And I will always treasure the time I spent watching his films, attending his concerts and listening to his music. His music was romantic and full of life and humor. Much like the man himself.

Richard Kraft is co-owner, with Laura Engel, of Kraft-Engel Management, an L.A.-based talent agency specializing in film composers and songwriters. A dedicated film-music enthusiast, Kraft penned this remembrance of their friend and client after learning of the composer's death Aug. 6 after a brief illness at age 68.

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