“Marvin taught me how to live life with gusto and magic. He would order every dessert on the menu, so everyone could taste everything and miss nothing in life. His friend Lily gave him a luncheon in France and it was a luncheon that was only desserts. . He dug into those desserts like he did life: with fearless abandon and unbridled joy and enthusiasm; his life force was huge.
Happy Birthday Marvin! — Terre Blair remembers Marvin — Aug 2012, Temple Emanu-el:
“Thank you Mr. President (Clinton) for your kind words (and I just heard from Hillary as well – please thank her). I’ll like to point out something first about today’s choir: It’s no ordinary choir. What started out as a small, simple choir, grew by the day. And formed by already invited guests and musical colleagues . His peers have chosen to sing in this choir to honor Marvin. It’s filled with renowned composers, it has singers like Lucie Arnaz, it has stellar orchestrators like Jonathan Tunick, and brilliant lyricists like Sheldon Harnick and Rupert Holmes. Marvin would be so pleased to be honored by his esteemed peers in this way. Thank you Judy Clurman, for this amazing gift. My name is Terre Blair Hamlisch. In the last several days, as in the last 23 years, I have learned just how right Marvin Hamlisch was in so much. In our home, when I admitted he was right about something, he will affectionately and jokingly say: “Could you say that louder, please?”
When he left to score the movie “Liberace” (HBO “Behind the Candelabra”) he said: “I know my talents. And it’s not that I think I am irreplaceable, but I do sort of have an experience and a voice to add to this project that is unique.”
Well Marvin, you were wrong: YOU ARE NOT REPLACEABLE! – and the world is saying it loudly now. You were a genius, a giant in your field and as a human being. Quoting your friend Michael Keller:
“The world is dimmer and a lot less funny without you.”
There is a poverty of adjectives in expressing our sorrow for the loss of Marvin Hamlisch. There is only ONE Marvin Hamlisch in the world.
Marvin taught me how to live life with gusto and magic. He would order every dessert on the menu, so everyone could taste everything and miss nothing in life. His friend Lily gave him a luncheon in France and it was a luncheon that was only desserts. He dug into those desserts like he did life: with fearless abandon and unbridled joy and enthusiasm; his life force was huge.
I on the other hand am more cautions by nature. He took my hand and he led me into his world of magic, where even the mundane became electrified with his humor, joy, laughter and brilliant insight. I remember when I would become totally confounded over an idea or behavior of his, and my good friend Jay Stein at the time would say calmly: “Terre, you married a real bonafide genius, not a salesman; it’s a different skills set. (laughs). And he would quietly list the characteristics of “genius” to help me understand: The childlike enthusiasm, the rarefied creativity, and of course, the quick brilliant mind. Marvin was the most loyal and supportive friend imaginable. I don’t know people like this. If I was sad or discouraged or had one of life’s curve balls hit me, Marvin would jump on top of the bed, -much before I would prefer to wake up – mind you, and perform and entire musical complete with lyrics and choreography and the dancing chorus, playing all the parts himself to the disbelief of myself and our dogs. But he always got me to laugh my way out of it. Marvin did the same for his close friend Liza. – Liza he loves you so!
When they were young, on subways, going to auditions, he would belt out in song to Liza: “You’ll be swell! You’ll be great!” from Gypsy, to cheer her up. Marvin generosity was unparalleled like anyone I have ever met or seen. If your child needed a doctor, he was there to help. He performed for families for terminally ill members, friends, and the elderly lady next door. Marvin worked to keep arts in impoverished school systems regardless the need. He always said to me: “ I wonder if anyone realizes I never say no.”
He never said no, he was there and he kept giving. And this is important. He never told people all that he did. He did not brag. He did not boast. He was down to earth and never thought he was better than anyone else. Even at Campbell’s funeral home these stories that people told me in the last days, where it was his premiere and a man was choking and he got up first an made sure he was okay. As a human being his character was beyond great: he mentored thousands and thousands of young people and never boasted, and never bragged. So so much that no one ever knew. That was true humility. Humility is such an interesting quality to have in this world today, and often overlooked, misinterpreted and under appreciated; but a quality of a giant character. Marvin lived by his mother’s ‘Bambi’ rule. When I would fly off about someone’s petty injustice he would quote: “if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.” He lived by that and saw the best in everyone. He had deep, wide compassion and understanding for their behavior and tons of forgiveness and love. Marvin loved deeply, was sensitive, and passionate. His passion for music, especially for the theatre was who he was. But he also had a boundless love and passion for his beloved Yankees and for his dear close friend Joe Torre.
He used to have the Yankees score whispered to him by someone strolling down stage right as he was performing. That’s until he found this gizmo he bought that he could put on the conductor’s stand. I thought I always sensed a bit more enthusiastic movement in “Rhapsody” if the Yankees were winning, but maybe that was just me. Marvin said “Music is the universal language that brings people together.” After receiving thousands and thousands of e-mails from Japan, Australia, Italy, England, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, Korea, Germany, Austria, Israel and more, I know that what he believed and said was not idle rhetoric. The world is mourning the loss of Marvin Hamlisch. When I was a student at S.I.T. (School for International Training), my fellow students were from the worst war torn countries: Afghanistan, Sudan, Darfur, Iraq, and do you know what Marvin did? He hired buses and he bused all of my friends to see the musical “Fela!” He was always doing something for someone else.
As the genius process goes, sometimes he would write things that some people did not get right away. And he’d say: It’s Okay Terre, I will be known as the “people’s composer,” because I will make music accessible to lots and lots of people and give them joy.
Marvin saved cultural institutions; his leadership vision and contagious personality and enthusiasm from the stage transformed symphonies. Symphonies that were in very difficult financial circumstances. And audiences adored him. He increased the Pasadena Symphony pre-sales 200% and had unprecedented sales. He saved cultural institutions therefore continuing culture in our country. I liked the card on the Pasadena symphony’s flowers. It Said: “Marvin was genius with genuine.” It was just to be announced this week that he would be the Philadelphia Orchestra Musical Director Pops. He had so many things he was looking forward to. His friend Jay Epstein says he was the Steve Jobs of his industry. He started early and ended early. But he changed lives. Marvin had this quote hanging in front of his desk which he looked at every day. It’s a quote from H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama; it says: “ The true meaning of life: we are visitors on this planet. We are here for 90 or 100 years to the most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.” YOU DID THAT HONEY! You were so much greater than you ever thought. How fortunate we are all that in our time that you came our way. How incredible lucky and grateful and honored and humbled I was to share 23 years with you. Thank you from the depths of my heart. I love you Marvin and I always will. Just like it said on our wedding napkins:
“Forever and after that”
Thank you…Thank you from all of us. — Terre Blair Hamlisch.
A six hundred voice choir, formed by Family, Colleagues and friends, sings THE WAY WE WERE: