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American Masters: Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love

Airs Friday, December 27, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Marvin Hamlisch, a prolific and accomplished composer at age 17.

Composer, conductor, genius, mensch: Marvin Hamlisch (June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012) earned four Grammys, four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes, a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize before his untimely death, making him one of only two PEGOT winners ever. Hit after hit — “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does It Better” and scores for "The Sting," "Sophie’s Choice" and the Broadway juggernaut "A Chorus Line" — made him the go-to composer and performer for film, Broadway, every U.S. President since Reagan and concert halls worldwide.

Courtesy of Rahoul Ghose/PBS

During PBS’ AMERICAN MASTERS "Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love" session at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles, Calif. on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 actress/singer and film interviewee Lucie Arnaz, Hamlisch’s wife and film interviewee Terre Blair Hamlisch (pictured), filmmaker Dori Berinstein and series creator and executive producer Susan Lacy remember composer, conductor & PEGOT winner Marvin Hamlisch.

Courtesy of Augustus Butera

Actress/singer/dancer Lucie Arnaz starred in the Broadway musical "They’re Playing Our Song," featuring music by Marvin Hamlisch. She is interviewed in AMERICAN MASTERS "Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love."

With exclusive access to Hamlisch’s personal archival treasure trove and complete cooperation from his family, Dramatic Forces and THIRTEEN’s AMERICAN MASTERS explore his prolific life and career in the series’ Season 27 finale, "Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love," premiering nationally Friday, December 27, 2013 on PBS.

In the first film biography about Hamlisch, award-winning filmmaker and four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Dori Berinstein ("Carol Channing: Larger Than Life," "Gotta Dance," "ShowBusiness: The Road To Broadway") presents a deeply personal, insider portrait of one of the greatest artists of our time.

Candid new interviews with Hamlisch’s family, friends and A-list collaborators include wife Terre Blair Hamlisch, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Steven Soderbergh, Quincy Jones, Christopher Walken, Sir Tim Rice, Joe Torre, Woody Allen, John Lithgow, Lucie Arnaz, Ann-Margret, Sir Howard Stringer, Kelli O’Hara, Brian D'Arcy James, Idina Menzel, Melissa Manchester, songwriter Carole Bayer Sager and many others.

“Marvin Hamlisch was a consummate artist: gifted, creative and personable. His music is part of the essential soundtrack to so many of our lives,” said Susan Lacy, creator and executive producer of AMERICAN MASTERS.

“Marvin’s astounding musical genius was certainly breathtaking, but it was his irrepressible joy for life and his unending generosity that constantly had me in awe. What a tremendous honor and challenge to capture the magic of this singular sensation,” said Berinstein, who was friends with Hamlisch and collaborated with him on a new Broadway musical before his death. She is working to finish the musical, which will feature his final score.

A musical prodigy accepted to Juilliard at age six, Hamlisch defied classical expectations to create his own music, dedicating his talents to musical theatre and pop music composition. By age 31, he achieved unprecedented success and honors with a string of smash hits, and then his streak ended.

Faced with overwhelming pressure and sky-high expectations to repeat his hits, Hamlisch fell into a self-described “period of suffocating despair,” before rebounding to find true love worthy of a Broadway musical and renewed passion for creation.

"Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love" reveals the events that led to both his staggering success and, ultimately, his even greater humanity: his creative process, struggles, inner turmoil and breakthroughs.

Marvin Hamlisch is on Facebook. AMERICAN MASTERS is on Facebook. Past episodes of AMERICAN MASTERS are available for online viewing.

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American Masters: Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love Trailer

Above: A musical prodigy accepted to Juilliard at age six, Marvin Hamlisch devoted his talents to musical theater and pop music composition. The composer and conductor earned four Grammys, four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. Barbra Streisand, Steven Soderbergh, Quincy Jones, Christopher Walken are among those who admire Hamlisch as a person and a musician.

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Marvin Hamlisch, The Performer

Above: Watch Marvin Hamlisch’s funny antics at the piano in front of a live audience. Bob Avian calls him a performer who’s a mix of the great entertainer Victor Borge and the renowned classical music conductor Arturo Toscanini.

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Pianist Kevin Cole Performs Marvin Medley

Above: Pianist Kevin Cole arranged this melody of Marvin Hamlisch songs and performed them before a live audience in tribute to the great composer. The piano medley is made from three Hamlisch songs: "The Way We Were," "At the Ballet" and "What I Did for Love." Kevin Cole was a friend of Hamlisch's and is known as an interpreter of Gershwin.

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Marvin Hamlisch, A Mensch

Above: The great composer Marvin Hamlisch is a mensch, a Yiddish term for a person of integrity and honor. He offered his genuine concern, time, and problem-solving skills to everyone in his life from taxi drivers to Broadway cast members to those planning events for the president of the United States and heads of state.

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Marvin Hamlisch: Genius At Work

Above: Luminaries of music and entertainment speak to the genius of Marvin Hamlisch, who was a musical prodigy who entered Juilliard, the country's most prestigious conservatory, at the age of six. Attesting to Hamlisch's brilliance and versatility are childhood companions Leslie Uggams and Christopher Walker, and celebrated composers, conductors and musicians.

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