Marilyn Bergman, one half of the songwriting team (with husband Alan) behind a string of iconic movie, TV and radio songs, died Saturday, January 8, at her L.A. home. She was 93.
The New York Times reports her cause of death as respiratory failure.
Born November 10, 1928, in Brooklyn, she attended the famed LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (then called the High School of Music and Art). Via friend, she met the successful songwriter Bob Russell (1914-1970). She played piano for him for a spell, but eventually focused on earning a degree in psychology and English, intending to become a psychologist.
When Bergman suffered a shoulder injury in a serious fall, she was encouraged by Russell to consider songwriting since playing the piano was temporarily out of the question. Taking a job with Lew Spence (1920-2008), she was introduced to Alan Bergman and the two were married two years later.
A relatively rare woman in the field of songwriting, she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Among the couple's biggest hits, created with help from composers like Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012) and Michel Legrand (1932-2019), included the Oscar-winning song "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968); "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" from The Happy Ending (1969); the Oscar-winning title song from The Way We Were (1973) and the Grammy-winning score from the same film; the 1978 #1 smash "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" that was a duet between Streisand and Neil Diamond (b. 1941); the Oscar-winning score for Streisand's Yentl (1983); and the theme songs for the TV series Maude (1972-1978), Good Times (1974-1979), Alice (1976-1985), The Brooklyn Bridge (1991-1993) and In the Heat of the Night (1988-1995).
They fared less well on Broadway, failing to find success with the Barbara Cook (1927-2017) revue Something More! (1964) or the Michael Bennett (1943-1987)-directed musical Ballroom (1978) in spite of their stellar talent and the stellar talent involved.
Bergman was the first woman who served as president of ASCAP (1994-2009). The couple was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980 and were honored with the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2013.
Bergman is survived by her husband, Alan, who is 96.