Composer and friend to all Marvin Hamlisch–triple Oscar winner, Grammy, Tony and Pulitzer winner– was paid respect by scads of celebs at his pre-funeral visitation on Monday night. The second session, from 7 to 9pm, was a dignified, solemn affair at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on Madison Avenue. Liza Minnelli, dressed in black, came a with a friend, spent some time with Hamlisch’s lovely wife, Terre Blair Hamlisch, then took a seat in the front pew of the receiving room. No one could miss opera legend Jessye Norman, who also took her place in the front row.
Behind her sat MSNBC’s Chris Matthews with members of his family. Waiting patiently on the greeting line to comfort Terre and take a walk past the closed casket were former Yankees manager Joe Torre and playwright John Guare. Leonard Lauder, head of Estee Lauder, flew in from his summer vacation.
Sitting in the frow next to Liza: singer Idina Menzel, who often toured with Hamlisch. Meanwhile, a nice touch: a jazz pianist played standards quietly on a white baby grand piano. Tuesday’s funeral will also be open to the public, but should come off with just as much decorum. By the way: paparazzi must have been so overwhelmed by Robert Pattinson’s movie premiere, that none of them showed outside Campbell’s. The Hamlisches caught a bit of luck.
By the way, when I mentioned to Terre that this column had been flooded with personal stories from the famous and the normal about Marvin’s largesse, big heart, unpublicized gifts, she agreed. “That’s all we’ve heard for days, the great things Marvin did for people and no one knew about.”
Just a PS: In the late Julia Phillips’s famously pointed memoir, “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again,” Julia recalled all the crazy people with whom she made “The Sting” unsparingly. Hamlisch is the only one she almost failed to mention it all. She had nothing bad to say about him. It’s a badge of honor!