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A year and a day after Marvin Hamlisch‘s sudden death, his widow, Terre Blair Hamlisch, closed out PBS’ time at the Television Critics Association press tour to plug the upcoming American Masters documentary dedicated to the late composer.
Marvin Hamlisch: The Way He Was (working title) features interviews with friends and collaborators of the beloved musician. And while no one on the panel was ready to divulge too many of its revelations ahead of the Dec. 27 premiere, they did discuss his unheard and lesser known works at length.
“He had a very large music library… there’s a lot, some unpublished,” said Blair Hamlisch. “It’s floor-to-ceiling, and I’ve been told it’s one of the largest of a modern day composer.”
Many of the scrapped works include unused pieces from his many Broadway shows and films. Lucie Arnaz, who worked with Hamlisch on They’re Playing Our Song, talked about seeing the composer ditch many beautiful tunes when he didn’t see them fit the project at hand.
“Music for him was very organic,” said Arnaz,”Marvin was so incredibly good at getting into the emotion of what he wanted the song to be… just knowing what needed to be heard, when it needed to be heard, and not manipulating people.”
“He put the integrity of the movie and the project first, and that’s rare,” noted Blair Hamlisch.
In addition to being a member of the small and elite group of EGOTs (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winners), American Masters creator Susan Lacy pointed out that Hamlisch’s accolades were even more impressive. “He had Pulitzer,” she said. “He was one of the very few PEGOTs.”
Hamlisch, whose most widely acclaimed works include A Chorus Line, The Way We Were and The Spy Who Loved Me, saw several setbacks over the course of his career. And his wife anticipates that several of them will gain more notoriety with time.
“I think that The Sweet Smell of Success he believed in very much, I think that he felt like he was on all cylinders — like A Chorus Line” said Blair Hamlisch, adding that 1986’s Smile was another disappointment to him. “Sometimes he would get frustrated about it if maybe it didn’t get the critical response, but he was always writing. He was all about the process… For both of those shows, there’s a resounding feeling that there time hasn’t come yet.”
Hamlisch’s final film score recently saw its debut with the release of Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra.
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