Entertainment & Arts

Streisand and Minnelli pay tribute to Marvin Hamlisch

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Media captionTributes were paid to the composer as stars arrived for the tribute

Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli have performed songs by Marvin Hamlisch at a memorial service for the late composer.

Streisand, a friend of Hamlisch for 45 years, sang The Way We Were, one of his best-known songs.

Minnelli performed If You Really Knew Me from the musical They're Playing My Song, while Franklin sang James Bond theme Nobody Does It Better.

The invitation-only tribute was held at New York's Juilliard School.

Hamlisch, who died on 6 August after a short illness, wrote scores of hit records for movies and such musicals as A Chorus Line.

The composer earned three Academy Awards, a Tony, four Grammys and four Emmys as well as the Pulitzer Prize.

Image caption The Way We Were, written by Hamlisch, was a huge hit for Barbra Streisand

Tuesday's event saw Streisand, Franklin and Minnelli each speak of the contribution he made to Broadway and their lives.

Streisand, who organised the tribute, told the audience that her friendship with Hamlisch was based on a shared passion for "music, film and food".

"Without explaining why or how, we understood each others anxieties," she said in reference to their shared Jewish heritage.

The singer and film-maker recalled their first meeting in 1963 when Hamlisch was a rehearsal pianist who occasionally got coffee for the cast.

"Because I didn't drink coffee, he was assigned to get me a chocolate doughnut," she told an audience that included Michael Douglas and Sarah Jessica Parker.

"But instead of just one, he always brought me two and so our love affair began."

At the age of seven, Hamlisch became the youngest person to be accepted at New York's prestigious Juilliard school.

Minnelli said she had met the composer "when I was 14-and-a-half, and he was 15 and three-quarters".

Image caption Hamlisch's final musical was an adaptation of The Nutty Professor

She said they had become best friends and called him "one of my few constants that I had in my life".

Among Hamlisch's hits was Nobody Does It Better, which he wrote as the theme song for the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.

Franklin performed a soulful version of the ballad, inserting the lyric "Marvin, you're the best" to audience cheers.

The 70-year-old soul legend then performed a rendition of the spiritual ballad Deep River.

Other attendees included Chinese pianist Lang Lang, British stage star Maria Friedman and trumpeter Chris Botti, who all performed songs from A Chorus Line.

Hamlisch, who was 68 when he died last month, worked right up until the days before his passing.

The tribute featured While I Still Have The Time - a song from his final musical, The Nutty Professor, which premiered in Nashville in August.

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