Streisand, Minnelli, Franklin sing for Marvin Hamlisch
By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 August 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." Continued...