Marilyn Bergman, the songwriting giant known for her work in film, television and theater, has died at the age of 93.
She passed away at her home in Los Angels on Saturday morning (January 8) with husband Alan Bergman and daughter Julie Bergman at her side. The cause of death was respiratory failure (non-COVID related).
Bergman’s death was confirmed by ASCAP president, chairman, and songwriter Paul Williams, who issued a statement (via Deadline).
“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,” Williams said. “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.”
Bergman was a force in the songwriting world, picking up a variety of awards across her career including three Academy Awards, four Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and one Cable Ace Award, among others.
In collaboration with her husband, Alan, Marilyn won Oscars for the songs ‘The Windmills Of Your Mind’, ‘The Way We Were’ and for the score for Yentl. Her Emmys came for Sybil, Queen Of The Stardust Ballroom, Ordinary Miracles and A Ticket To Dream.
The Bergmans’ main collaborators include Quincy Jones, John Williams, Dave Grusin, James Newton Howard, Michel Legrand, Johnny Mandel, Cy Coleman, Henry Mancini, Marvin Hamlisch and Barbra Streisand.
Marilyn and Alan wrote the legendary HBO special Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which they were nominated for a Cable Ace Award. They also received a Cable Ace and Emmy Award for their song ‘Ordinary Miracles’ from the special.
In 2011, Streisand paid tribute to the pair with a Grammy-nominated album compiling their songs, titled ‘What Matters Most’. A new compilation of their work came in 2019, ‘Frank Sinatra Sings Alan And Marilyn Bergman’.
Bergman was also a political and social activist. Among her triumphs, she, along with 10 other women, founded the powerful political PAC ‘The Hollywood Women’s Political Committee’ (HWPC) in 1984, which raised millions of dollars for Democratic candidates. It was described as the “single most powerful entertainment group in politics”.
A year later, she became the first woman elected to the board of directors of the American Society of Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). After serving five terms as a board member, she was elected president and chairman of the board. She resigned in April 2009, but continued to serve as Board Emeritus.
Tributes have been pouring in for Bergman on social media, including from Streisand and Jones.
“Marilyn and Alan Bergman were like family, as well as brilliant lyricists,” tweeted Streisand. “We met over 60 years ago backstage at a little night club, and never stopped loving each other and working together. Their songs are timeless, and so is our love. May she rest in peace. With love, Barbra.”
Marilyn and Alan Bergman were like family, as well as brilliant lyricists.
We met over 60 years ago backstage at a little night club, and never stopped loving each other and working together.
Their songs are timeless, and so is our love.
May she rest in peace.
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) January 8, 2022
Jones paid tribute in three separate tweets. “My dear, dear, beautiful Marilyn Bergman, to lose you this morning, so close to our brother Sidney, is just crushing me,” the Grammy-winning musician. “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. We shared so much of life together… songs, laughter, love and hugs, and every minute was pure joy.”
He concluded: “And when they ask ‘How Do You Keep The Music Playing,’ I will always say ask Marilyn and Alan Bergman to write you the song. RIP my sweet ‘Owl.’ Your songs will sing in our hearts forever xoxo Q.”
My dear, dear, beautiful Marilyn Bergman, to lose you this morning, so close to our brother Sidney, is just crushing me. 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”(1/3) pic.twitter.com/2y7v76W4jJ
— Quincy Jones (@QuincyDJones) January 8, 2022
ask “How Do You Keep The Music Playing,” I will always say ask Marilyn and Alan Bergman to write you the song. RIP my sweet “Owl.” Your songs will sing in our hearts forever xoxo Q (3/3)
— Quincy Jones (@QuincyDJones) January 8, 2022
You can see more tributes to Bergman below:
Marilyn and Alan Bergman with Michele Legrand wrote my favorite song, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing? We lost Marilyn today, but her music keeps playing.https://t.co/iM1fITp9zz
— Tony Bennett (@itstonybennett) January 8, 2022
There was only one Marilyn Bergman. 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 our hearts and souls with her today.
— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) January 8, 2022
#MarilynBergman was a treasure for so many reasons. The Way We Were, What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life—winner of Oscars, Grammys, Emmys just to name a few with her husband Alan. My personal favorite will always be the theme from Maude. RIP https://t.co/535qSqM8fT
— Leonard Maltin (@leonardmaltin) January 8, 2022
I met Marilyn thru politics, early 90’s. Warm, gracious & fierce. But what I will always remember is how much Alan loved her. “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” Her music lives on. https://t.co/qvLMHWidpZ
— Dana Delany (@DanaDelany) January 8, 2022
We’ve lost one of the most talented, beautiful and inspriing woman I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Marilyn Bergman was so unique – and badass in the most glorious ways. RIP dear, dear Marilyn. https://t.co/hkPrN7Hjoh
— Paul Reiser (@PaulReiser) January 8, 2022