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Marilyn Bergman (1928–2022), Oscar-winning “The Way We Were” songwriter

by Linnea Crowther

Marilyn Bergman was a songwriter who won three Academy Awards for her work.

An award-winning team

Bergman worked with her husband, Alan Bergman, to write songs for TV, movies, and stage productions. They married and began working together in the late 1950s, with early compositions including songs for Frank Sinatra (1915–1998) and Dean Martin (1917–1995). The Bergmans began writing songs for movies, and they won their first Oscar for Best Original Song with “The Windmills of Your Mind” from “The Thomas Crown Affair.” They won again for “The Way We Were” from the film of the same name, which also won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year as well as a Golden Globe Award. The Bergmans won their third Oscar for Best Original Score for their work on “Yentl.” In 1983, they became the first songwriters ever to have three songs nominated for Oscars in the same year, for their music in “Tootsie,” “Best Friends,” and “Yes, Giorgio.”

The Bergmans wrote lyrics for theme songs to popular TV shows including “Maude,” “Alice,” and “Good Times.” They won three Emmy Awards and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Bergman became the first woman elected to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) board of directors, in 1984, and she later served as ASCAP’s president and chairman.

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Bergman on great songwriting

“I don’t know how many thousands of love songs there are in the world, but when you think of ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face,’ what an original way to write a love song. They found original ways to say things that are universal, describe feelings which are universal in origin and new ways to say these things with great craft.” —from a 2002 interview for American Songwriter

Tributes to Marilyn Bergman

Full obituary: The New York Times

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