Oscar, Emmy, Grammy-Winning Lyricist Marilyn Bergman Passes Away At 93

Marilyn became the first woman to be elected to American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers's board of directors in 1985, and she continued to serve on the board even after stepping down as its president.

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Washington: Marilyn Bergman, the Oscar, Emmy and Grammy-winning songwriter whose lyrics graced hits such as The Way We Were, The Windmills of Your Mind, In the Heat of the Night and the songs from Yentl, has died at age 93. According to Variety, Bergman was the first woman president and chairman of the board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a post she held from 1994 to 2009.

She and her husband and lifelong writing partner Alan Bergman wrote the words to some of the most popular film and TV songs of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, and continued to write together well into the 2000s.

They were Oscar-nominated 16 times, and won three (for Way We Were, Windmills and the entire song score for Yentl). The Bergmans were frequent collaborators with composers Michel Legrand (their co-writer on Windmills, Yentl and such other songs as What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? and How Do You Keep the Music Playing?) and Marvin Hamlisch (The Way We Were).

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams paid tribute to Bergman, writing in a statement, “It is with deep sadness that I personally, and all of ASCAP, mourn the passing of Marilyn Bergman — one of the greatest lyricists who ever lived and truly ASCAP royalty. She was a brilliant songwriter who together with her husband, Alan Bergman, gave us some of the most beautiful and enduring lyrics of all time.”

He added, “She was a tireless and fierce advocate for music creators not only during her term as President and Chairman of ASCAP but throughout her life. Our community will miss her intelligence, her wit and her wisdom. Alan — we mourn with you.”

She was born Marilyn Keith in Brooklyn, majored in music at New York’s High School of Music and Art, then studied at NYU. While still in high school, she often played piano for lyricist Bob Russell. He encouraged her to consider songwriting as a profession.

When she moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, she began writing lyrics for composer Lew Spence and soon met Spence’s other lyric-writing partner, Alan Bergman. Marilyn and Alan were married in February 1958.Among their early hits were ‘Nice ‘n’ Easy’, title track for the 1960 Frank Sinatra album, written with Spence; and ‘Yellow Bird’, a calypso number for a 1959 Norman Luboff album.

They also collaborated with composer Dave Grusin on Tootsie, And Justice for All and For the Boys; with John Williams on Fitzwilly, Pete ‘n’ Tillie and Sabrina; with David Shire, ‘The Promise’ and the theme for TV’s Alice; with Henry Mancini, Sometimes a Great Notion and Gaily, Gaily; with Johnny Mandel, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams; with Elmer Bernstein, ‘From Noon Till Three’; and with James Newton Howard, The Prince of Tides. With Grusin, the Bergmans also wrote the TV themes for Maude and Good Times.

They won Emmys for the score of the 1975 TV musical Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (with composer Billy Goldenberg), a song for Sybil (with Leonard Rosenman) and two songs for Barbra Streisand for 1990s TV specials (with Hamlisch).

Marilyn became the first woman to be elected to ASCAP’s board of directors in 1985, and she continued to serve on the board even after stepping down as its president.

Longtime friends with Streisand, she co-wrote and co-produced the singer’s HBO special ‘One Voice’ in 1986 and co-wrote her concert tour (later aired on HBO as ‘Barbra Streisand: The Concert’) in 1994.

As per Variety, she is survived by her husband Alan; a daughter, Julie; and a granddaughter.

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