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Stars Mourn Composer Marvin Hamlisch at Upper East Side Funeral

By  Chelsia Rose Marcius and Amy Zimmer | August 14, 2012 3:42pm | Updated on August 14, 2012 4:38pm

Marvin Hamlisch Signs Copies Of
Marvin Hamlisch Signs Copies Of "Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin" at Barnes &Noble Tribeca on March 16, 2011. He died Aug. 6, 2012.
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Legends from the world of song and stage — along with political leaders — turned out Tuesday to remember famed "A Chorus Line" composer Marvin Hamlisch, who died Aug. 6 at the age of 68.

Former President Bill Clinton and Liza Minelli were among the celebrities who gathered at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side to honor a musician who won a slew of major awards: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, three Golden Globes and a Pulitzer, which he won in 1975 for the music he wrote for the iconic Broadway hit, "A Chorus Line."

His other Broadway credits included "They’re Playing Our Song," "The Goodbye Girl" and "The Sweet Smell of Success."

Hamlisch, who lived in New York, died in Los Angeles after a brief illness, according to reports.

"Marvin taught me how to live with gusto and magic," Terre Blair, Hamlisch's wife of 26 years, told hundreds of mourners.

Blair got the crowd laughing with stories about how Hamlisch used to startle her — and their dogs — by jumping up on the bed in the wee hours of the morning and launching into Broadway tunes. 

She also told of Hamlisch's love of the Yankees — he used to have the scores whispered to him at stage right during performances, until he got a radio-like tool he clipped to his conductor stand to quietly tune into games.

Blair's speech was filled with humor until the very end, when she broke down.

"How incredibly lucky, honored and humbled to have shared 26 years with you," she said. "Like it said on our wedding napkins, forever and after that."

Among those one the guest list were Broadway luminaries such as Bette Midler, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel and Robert Klein.

Also on the list were directors Steven Spielberg and Mike Nichols along with former Gov. Mario Cuomo, former schools chancellor Joel Klein, former Yankees manager Joe Torre, actress Shirley MacLaine and Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera.

Media luminaries including Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Regis Philbin and David Frost were also on the list for the composer, who often appeared on talk shows.

"I heard him play and my life changed forever," said RIchard Kagan, a pall-bearer who said Hamlisch was his best friend. "I knew I was in the presence of a genius."

Hamlisch composed music for more than 40 movies, including his Oscar-winning score for "The Way We Were" with Barbra Streisand, who worked with him for decades, starting when she was 19 when he became her rehearsal pianist for the show "Funny Girl."  He served as her musical director and arranger for her 1994 concert tour and for a television special, which won him two Emmys.

Hamlisch also adapted Scott Joplin's music for "The Sting," and scored movies including "Sophie's Choice," "Ordinary People," "Ice Castles" and Woody Allen's "Bananas."

His most recent project was for "The Informant," directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon. At the time he died, Hamlisch was working on Soderbergh's film project about Liberace, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, according to Hamlisch's website bio.

Hamlisch, who was born in New York in 1944 to an accordion-playing father and won a scholarship to Juilliard when he was 7-years-old.

The funeral ended with a moving rendition of "What I Did For Love" from "A Chorus Line," sung by nearly 600 professional Broadway singers, trained amateur choir members and others who came together over the past week to prepare for the memorial.