Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the scores for dozens of movies including The Sting and won a Tony for A Chorus Line, has died in Los Angeles at 68.

Family spokesman Jason Lee said Hamlisch died Monday after a brief illness. Other details aren't being released.

Broadway to Hollywood

Hamlisch's career included composing, conducting and arranging music from Broadway to Hollywood.  He also served as a judge for CBC's Triple Sensation talent competition show in 2007.

The composer won every major award in his career, including three Academy Awards, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes.   His music colored some of film and Broadway's most important works.  

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Marvin Hamlisch, right, at the piano on Sept. 9, 1986, with lyricist Howard Ashman in New York. His best-known song was The Way We Were. (Nancy Kaye/Associated Press)

He also wrote the music for torch song The Way We Were, a hit for Barbra Streisand, which also earned him an Oscar for best original song.  He also won the 1974 Grammys for best new artist and song of the year.

Hamlisch composed more than 40 film scores, including Sophie's Choice, Ordinary People and Take the Money and Run. He won his third Oscar for his adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for The Sting.

On Broadway, Hamlisch received the Pulitzer Prize for long-running favorite The Chorus Line and wrote The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success. A news release from his publicist said he was scheduled to fly to Nashville, Tenn., this week to see a production of his hit musical, The Nutty Professor. 

Hit for Aretha Franklin

Hamlisch even reached into the pop world, writing the No. 1 R&B hit Break It to Me Gently with Carole Bayer Sager for Aretha Franklin.

Tributes for Marvin Hamlisch

"When I think of him now, it was his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity, and delicious sense of humour that made him a delight to be around.... He was a true musical genius, but above all that, he was a beautiful human being. I will truly miss him." — Barbra Streisand

"Marvin was much beloved in our community. He was generous with his time and wonderful at reaching out to make the art of songwriting and film scoring accessible to people outside of the profession. He had the special gift of melody, and we are all the richer for it." — film composer Charles Bernstein.

"He was classic and one of a kind," Franklin said Tuesday after learning of his death, calling him one of the "all time great" arrangers and producers. "Who will ever forget The Way We Were?"

Hamlisch's interest in music started early. At the age of 7 he entered the Juilliard School of Music, stunning the admissions committee with his renditions of Goodnight Irene in any key they desired.

In his autobiography, The Way I Was, Hamlisch admitted that he lived in fear of not meeting his father's expectations. "By the time Gershwin was your age, he was dead," the Viennese-born musician would tell his son. "And he'd written a concerto. Where's your concerto, Marvin?"

Loved show music

In his teens, he switched from piano recitals to songwriting. Show music held a special fascination for him. Hamlisch's first important job in the theatre was as rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of Funny Girl with Streisand in 1964. He graduated to other shows like Fade Out-Fade In, Golden Rainbow and Henry, Sweet Henry, and other jobs like arranging dance and vocal music.

In his autobiography, The Way I Was, Hamlisch admitted that he lived in fear of not meeting his father's expectations. "By the time Gershwin was your age, he was dead," the Viennese-born musician would tell his son. "And he'd written a concerto. Where's your concerto, Marvin?"

Loved show music

In his teens, he switched from piano recitals to songwriting. Show music held a special fascination for him. Hamlisch's first important job in the theatre was as rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of Funny Girl with Streisand in 1964. He graduated to other shows like Fade Out-Fade In, Golden Rainbow and Henry, Sweet Henry, and other jobs like arranging dance and vocal music.

Marvin Hamlisch hits

  • Life Is What You Make It  from  Kotch  (1971)
  • The Way We Were  from  The Way We Were  (1973)
  • The Entertainer  from  The Sting  (1973)
  • Nobody Does It Better  from  The Spy Who Loved Me  (1977)
  • The Last Time I Felt Like This  from  Same Time, Next Year  (1978)
  • Through The Eyes of Love  from  Ice Castles  (1978)
  • I Finally Found Someone  from The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)

"Maybe I'm old-fashioned," he told The Associated Press in 1986. "But I remember the beauty and thrill of being moved by Broadway musicals — particularly the endings of shows. The end of West Side Story, where audiences cried their eyes out. The last few chords of My Fair Lady. Just great."

Although he was one of the youngest students ever at Juilliard, he never studied conducting. "I remember somebody told me, 'Earn while you learn,"' he told The AP in 1996.

The Way We Were exemplified Hamlisch's old-fashioned appeal — it was a big, sentimental movie ballad that brought huge success in the rock era. He was extremely versatile, able to write for stage and screen, for soundtracks ranging from Woody Allen comedies to a sombre drama like Ordinary People.

Adapted The Sting

He was perhaps even better known for his work adapting Joplin on The Sting. In the mid-'70s, it seemed everybody with a piano had the sheet music to The Entertainer, the movie's theme song.

Hamlisch earned his place in American culture through his music, but he also had a place in popular culture. Known for his nerdy look, complete with thick eyeglasses, that image was sealed on NBC's Saturday Night Live during Gilda Radner's "Nerd" sketches. Radner, playing Lisa Loopner, would swoon over Hamlisch.  

Hamlisch was principal pops conductor for symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle and San Diego. He was to be announced to the same position with the Philadelphia Orchestra and also was due to lead the New York Philharmonic during its upcoming New Year's Eve concert.  

He leaves behind a legacy in film and music that transcended far beyond notes on the page. As illustrative as the scenes playing out in front of the music, his scores helped define some of Hollywood's most iconic works.