Broadway Greats Pack Star-Studded Funeral For Composer Marvin Hamlisch
Broadway and movie stars and even former President Bill Clinton were among the luminaries who gathered to pay their respects to composer Marvin Hamlisch at his Upper East Side funeral on Tuesday. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.
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The mood was somber and the faces and melodies were familiar as more than 1,000 people turned out to Temple Emanu-El on Tuesday to bid farewell to composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died last week at the age of 68.
Performers like Liza Minnelli and Kelli O'Hara, former President Bill Clinton and former Yankees manager Joe Torre were among those who paid their respects.
"There were tears and smiles in that music. 'The Way We Were' and 'What I Did For Love,' they were bookends," said Torre.
"Marvin gave me my first big role on Broadway, 'Sweet Smell Of Success,' regardless of the show's outcome. It was what started me and gave me a chance," said O'Hara.
The ceremony, which shut out reporters' cameras, began with "The Way We Were" sung by a chorus that included theater favorites Sheldon Harnick, Lucie Arnaz and Rupert Holmes.
Then eight speakers, including Clinton and Hamlisch's wife Terre, spoke about his legacy, generosity and sense of humor.
Hamlisch was best known on Broadway for crafting the Tony Award-winning score for "A Chorus Line." Members of the original cast and the 2006 revival were among the mourners.
"As a person, he was one of the greatest people I've ever met," said Donna McKechnie, an actor for the original production.
"His music made it possible for us to open our hearts up on the stage," said Tony Yazbeck, an actor from the revival.
Following the eulogies, the congregation joined the chorus in singing "What I Did For Love." Tony Award-winning actress Idina Menzel closed the ceremony with Hamlisch's favorite song from "A Chorus Line," "At The Ballet."
"He asked for a 600-person choir and he got it. It was exquisite," said Menzel. "I was just happy to be here. I just miss him a lot."
Hamlisch will be long remembered for his past contributions to both stage and screen, but audiences can soon expect to see his final Broadway show, an adaptation of the 1960s film "The Nutty Professor," and his final film "Liberace," which is being produced by HBO.