Lyricist Teamed With Husband on 'The Way We Were'

Marilyn Bergman, a songwriting hall of famer, won 3 Oscars
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2022 1:35 PM CST
Marilyn Bergman, 93, Co-Wrote 'The Way We Were'
Alan and Marilyn Bergman arrive for the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in 2018.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Marilyn Bergman, the Oscar-winning lyricist who wrote, with her husband, Alan Bergman, the words for "The Way We Were," "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" and hundreds of other songs, died Saturday at her Los Angeles home. She was 93. Bergman died of respiratory failure not related to COVID-19, a representative said. Her husband was at her bedside when she died. The Bergmans, who were born in the same hospital and married in 1958, were among the most enduring and successful songwriting partnerships, specializing in introspective ballades for film, television, and the stage that combined the romance of Tin Pan Alley with the polish of contemporary pop, the AP reports.

They worked with some of the world’s top melodists, including Marvin Hamlisch, Cy Coleman, and Michel Legrand, and were covered by some of the world's greatest singers, such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson. "If one really is serious about wanting to write songs that are original, that really speak to people, you have to feel like you created something that wasn't there before—which is the ultimate accomplishment, isn't it?" Marilyn Bergman told the Huffington Post in 2013. She became the first woman elected to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and later served as the chair and president. She was also the first chair of the National Recorded Sound Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.

Their songs included the Streisand-Neil Diamond duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and Sinatra's "Nice 'n' Easy." But they were best known for their contributions to films, turning out themes sometimes more memorable than the movies themselves. Their peak was "The Way We Were," from the Streisand-Robert Redford romantic drama of the same name. Set to Hamlisch's melody, it was the top-selling song of 1974 and an instant standard. The Bergmans won three Oscars—for "The Way We Were," "Windmills of Your Mind," and the soundtrack to Streisand's Yentl. They also received two Grammys and four Emmys. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

(More obituary stories.)

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