President Bill Clinton: “Marvin Hamlisch was a goodhearted, humble and hilarious genius”

June 2nd – We remember Marvin Hamlisch on his Birthday. Thank you President Clinton. (Eulogy,  Temple Emanu-El, Aug. 2012)

“Genius is rare enough, but a goodhearted genius is rarer still. A goodhearted, humble and hilarious genius: almost unheard of.”  – President Bill Clinton.

“Rabbis, Terre, family and friends. First I thank you for giving me the chance to celebrate and give thanks to the life of a great, giving genius. He gave us all the gift of our memories and we remember him in different ways which is why I could sense all over almost a relief when the choir began to sing because everyone then was free to celebrate his remarkable life to their own memories. Genius is rare enough, but a goodhearted genius is rarer still. A goodhearted, humble and hilarious genius: almost unheard of.

President Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton

My own memories of Marvin come from the fact that he liked to say “yes” more than “no.”

And I can’t tell you how many times, over the last two decades he said yes to Hilary or to me, not just in campaigns but  in the State Department, The White House, the work of my foundation. He always knew that his gift could empower other people and touch hundreds of thousands, even millions of people because of what he did, often in a small room, wearing just  a sport coat, sitting a couple of feet away  from not the grand audiences that give you Oscars and Emmys and Tonys and Pulitzer Prizes, but just people. Stand and happy and calm. To see this funny giving genius.

In his memoir, “The Way I Was,” he said that – and all the press quoted this which I thought was great – that his father  said “Marvin, when Gershwin was your age he had a Concerto. Where is your Concerto?”

“We are Marvin’s Concerto.”

We are grateful that he was given to us for thirty more years than George Gershwin. And we are grateful to be small notes in a remarkable symphony.

So now, the final movement of his great symphony “The Way I Was”  is clearly “Nobody Did It Better.”

Marvin Hamlisch (June 2nd, 1944 – August 6th, 2012)

LISTEN: President Clinton’s Eulogy (4 minutes)

Eulogy by President Clinton



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