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Marilyn Bergman, Songwriter Behind "The Way We Were" and More, Dies at 93

Bergman, with husband Alan, penned some of the best-known songs of the 20th century.

Alan and Marilyn Bergman
(© Joseph Marzullo)

Marilyn Bergman — half of the songwriting duo behind standards like "The Way We Were" and "The Windmills of My Mind" — has died at the age of 93.

Over the course of her distinguished career, Bergman and her husband Alan were nominated for 16 Oscars, winning three, for their lyrics of "The Windmills of Your Mind" and the score for Yentl with Michel Legrand, and "The Way We Were" with Marvin Hamlisch, which also earned a Grammy for Song of the Year. Their hits also include "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Neil Diamond, "In the Heat of the Night" with Quincy Jones, and the James Bond theme "Never Say Never Again," among scores of others. They penned the themes for the TV shows Maude, Brooklyn Bridge, Alice, and Good Times.

On Broadway, Bergman contributed lyrics to the musical Ballroom, based on the Emmy-winning television film Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, and Something More! She also earned Emmys for Sybil, Ordinary Miracles, and A Ticket to Dream. Bergman served as President of ASCAP for 15 years, and prior to that, was the first woman to ever serve on the organization's board of directors. In 2002, she was appointed the first chairman of the Library of Congress National Sound Recording Preservation Board. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980.

The Bergmans have had a long relationship with Barbra Streisand. In addition to Yentl and The Way We Were, they wrote her "One Voice" concert, and won an Emmy for their work in her 1994 concert tour and subsequent HBO special, which included the song "Ordinary Miracles." They also won an Emmy for the song "On the Way to Becoming Me," from the AFI tribute to Streisand's career. Streisand's 2001 album, What Matters Most, was recorded as a tribute to them, and featured more than a dozen of their songs that she had not previously covered.

Alan Bergman and Marilyn Keith began writing together in 1956, when they were both separately collaborating with the composer Lew Spence. Their first song together was called "I Never Knew What Hit Me." The same can be said of their relationship — they were married two years later and remained so until her passing. Alan Bergman, now 96, survives her, as does their daughter, Julie.


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