Marilyn Bergman, who co-wrote Barbra Streisand’s classic 1973 song, “The Way We Were,” died today at her home in Los Angeles at the age of 93. The cause of death was respiratory failure but was not related to the coronavirus, according to multiple media reports. Marilyn Bergman died with her husband and songwriting partner Alan Bergman and their daughter Julie Bergman at her side, her agent Jason Lee told reporters.
The Bergmans won several Oscars, Emmys and Grammys over their long career, which included writing songs for such luminaries as Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire. Their three Academy Awards were for “The Way We Were” — which anchored the film of the same name starring Streisand and Robert Redford —
“The Windmills of Your Mind” and the score for 1983’s “Yentl,” another Streisand project. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980. In 1984, Marilyn was one of 11 women who founded the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, which raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates. In 1985, she became the first woman elected president and chairman of the board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
“There was only one Marilyn Bergman,” legendary TV producer Norman Lear tweeted. “No one knew that more than her husband and partner in music, Alan. To those of us who loved the Bergman’s lyrics, Marilyn takes a bit of ourhearts and souls with her today.”
Another industry giant, record producer Quincy Jones, also paid tribute. “My dear, dear, beautiful Marilyn Bergman, to lose you this morning, so close to our brother Sidney, is just crushing me,” Jones tweeted. “You, along with your beloved Alan, were the epitome of Nadia Boulanger’s belief that `an artist can never be more or less than they are as a human being. The secret weapon to your songwriting — the unconditional love in your heart for your family, friends, and community. Your lyrics an extension of your being.
“… RIP my sweet `Owl. Your songs will sing in our hearts forever xoxo Q.’ Another great songwriter, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, issued the following 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. 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.”
The Bergmans married in 1958 and launched one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in popular music. Their wide-ranging work included the Streisand-Neil Diamond duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” Sinatra’s “Nice ‘n’ Easy” and the theme songs to Lear’s 1970s sitcoms “Maude” and “Good Times.”