Alan and Marilyn Bergman

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The Bergmans in 2002 Alan and Marilyn Bergman.jpg
The Bergmans in 2002

Alan Bergman (born September 11, 1925) and Marilyn Bergman (née Keith, born November 10, 1929) are American lyricists and songwriters. The pair have been married since 1958 and have written the music and lyrics for numerous celebrated television shows, films, and stage musicals. The Bergmans have won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song and have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.


A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics and composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.


Biography and career

Alan Bergman was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925, [1] and studied at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his master's degree in music at UCLA. Marilyn Bergman was born in 1929, coincidentally at the same Brooklyn hospital where Alan had been born four years earlier, and studied music at The High School of Music & Art in New York before studying psychology and English at New York University. [2] Alan worked as a television director and songwriter at Philadelphia's WCAU-TV in the early 1950s. Johnny Mercer encouraged Alan to move to Los Angeles and become a professional songwriter. [3] [4] Despite the geographical proximity of their upbringing in New York, the Bergmans did not meet until they had both moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Marilyn had moved to California and was friends with songwriter Bob Russell and his wife, Anna, and later described "drif[ing] into songwriting really by accident because I had a fall and broke my shoulder and couldn't play piano so I started writing lyrics". Marilyn also felt that she lacked the discipline or talent required to become a concert pianist. The Bergmans had both become collaborators with composer Lew Spence, and only met when Spence suggested they all work together. The Bergmans married in 1958, and have a daughter, Julie Bergman Sender, who works as an independent film producer. [3] [5]

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also known as UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or simply Carolina is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is the flagship of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, which also allows it to be one of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university based in New York City. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. NYU also has degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

A television director is in charge of the activities involved in making a television program or section of a program. They are generally responsible for decisions about the editorial content and creative style of a program, and ensuring the producer's vision is delivered. Their duties may include originating program ideas, finding contributors, writing scripts, planning 'shoots', ensuring safety, leading the crew on location, directing contributors and presenters, and working with an editor to assemble the final product. The work of a television director can vary widely depending on the nature of the program, the practices of the production company, whether the program content is factual or drama, and whether it is live or recorded.

With Spence the Bergmans wrote the lyrics for the title tracks for Dean Martin's 1958 album Sleep Warm and Frank Sinatra's 1960 album Nice 'n' Easy . [6] [7] In 1961 the Bergmans wrote their first title song for a motion picture, for The Right Approach , composed by Spence. In 1964 the Bergmans wrote lyrics to their first Broadway musical, Something More! , to music by Sammy Fain. [8]

Dean Martin American singer, actor, and comedian

Dino Paul Crocetti, known famously as Dean Martin, was an American singer, actor and comedian. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed "The King of Cool" for his seemingly effortless charisma and self-assurance.

<i>Sleep Warm</i> 1959 studio album by Dean Martin

Sleep Warm is an album recorded by Dean Martin for Capitol Records in three sessions between October 13, 1958 and October 15, 1958 with arrangements by Pete King and orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra. Described in the liner notes as a "beguiling set of lullabies for moderns," the selections follow a "bedtime" concept with several of the song titles containing the words "dream" and/or "sleep."

Frank Sinatra American singer, actor, and producer

Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

The Bergmans wrote lyrics for "In the Heat of the Night" with music by Quincy Jones for the 1967 film of the same name, which has been described as their "breakthrough". [9] The couple would later work with Jones on Michael Jackson's soundtrack album for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), for which they wrote the lyrics for "Someone In the Dark", and the 2007 Ennio Morricone tribute album We All Love Ennio Morricone for which they wrote lyrics to "I Knew I Loved You", which was sung by Celine Dion. [10]

"In the Heat of the Night" is a 1967 song performed by Ray Charles, composed by Quincy Jones, and written by Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman for the film In the Heat of the Night. As Matthew Greenwald of AllMusic states, the song "opens the film and accompanying soundtrack with a slice of real, rural backwoods gospel. Lyrically, one of the key lines is 'In the heat of the night/I'm feeling motherless somehow,' which clearly illustrates the main character's dilemma of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The main melody is guided by Charles' funky piano work and is buttressed by then-session ace Billy Preston's powerful, soulful organ trills. The underlying sense of drama that is so much a part of the film is reflected perfectly in this song, and the Ray Charles Singers add to this with a stately grace. It's perfect listening for a midsummer night when the temperature is just a bit too hot for comfort."

Quincy Jones American record producer, conductor, arranger, composer, television producer, and trumpeter

Quincy Delight Jones Jr. is an American record producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, arranger, and film and television producer. His career spans over 60 years in the entertainment industry with a record 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992.

<i>In the Heat of the Night</i> (film) 1967 film by Norman Jewison

In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 American mystery drama film directed by Norman Jewison. It is based on John Ball's 1965 novel of the same name and tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia, who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a small town in Mississippi. It stars Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, and was produced by Walter Mirisch. The screenplay was by Stirling Silliphant.

The Bergmans' long relationship with the French composer Michel Legrand began in the late 1960s. The couple wrote English lyrics for Legrand's song "The Windmills of Your Mind" featured in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), which won them their first Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 41st Academy Awards in 1969. The Bergmans and Legrand were subsequently nominated for the Best Original Song award in the following two years for "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" from The Happy Ending (1969) and "Pieces of Dreams" from the 1970 film of the same name. The couple's minor work with Legrand in this period included "Listen to the Sea" from Ice Station Zebra (1968) and "Nobody Knows" and "Sweet Gingerbread Man" from The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970). [11] Legrand would also feature eight of the Bergman's lyrics on his 1972 album with Sarah Vaughan. [12]

Michel Legrand Film score composer from Paris, France

Michel Jean Legrand was a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist. Legrand was a prolific composer, having written over 200 film and television scores, in addition to many songs. His scores for the films of French New Wave director Jacques Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), earned Legrand his first Academy Award nominations. Legrand won his first Oscar for the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

The Windmills of Your Mind 1968 single by Noel Harrison

"The Windmills of Your Mind" is a song with music by French composer Michel Legrand and English lyrics written by Americans Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The French lyrics, under the title "Les Moulins de mon cœur", were written by Eddy Marnay. The song was introduced in the film The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in the same year. In 2004, "Windmills of Your Mind" was ranked 57 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top songs in American cinema. A cover by Sting was used in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

<i>The Thomas Crown Affair</i> (1968 film) 1968 heist film by Norman Jewison

The Thomas Crown Affair is a 1968 American heist film directed and produced by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning Best Original Song for Michel Legrand's "The Windmills of Your Mind". A remake was released in 1999, and a second remake was in development stages as of 2016.

In 1983 at the 55th Academy Awards, the Bergmans' work on "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" composed by Legrand for the film Best Friends would be nominated for the Best Original Song award. The 55th Academy Awards was also significant as the Bergmans became the first songwriters ever to have written three of the five nominations for the Academy Award for Best Song, being nominated for "It Might Be You" from Tootsie (composed by Dave Grusin), and "If We Were in Love" from Yes, Giorgio (composed by John Williams), in addition to "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?". At the subsequent Academy Awards, their work with Legrand on the 1983 film Yentl won them the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score, with the songs "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" and "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from the film also being nominated for the Best Original Song award.

55th Academy Awards

The 55th Academy Awards were presented April 11, 1983, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles. The ceremonies were presided over by Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor, and Walter Matthau. The awards were dominated by the Best Picture winner Gandhi, which won eight awards out of its eleven nominations.

<i>Best Friends</i> (1982 film) 1982 feature film directed by Norman Jewison

Best Friends is a 1982 American Technicolor romantic comedy film starring Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn. It is loosely based on the true story of the relationship between its writers, Barry Levinson and Valerie Curtin. The film is directed by Norman Jewison and is a drama as well as a romantic comedy.

The Bergmans were also co-writers of "An American Reunion", the opening ceremony of the inaugural festivities at Washington D.C.'s Lincoln Memorial that marked Bill Clinton's first term as President of the United States in January 1993. [3] In the late 1990s the Bergmans received their most recent nominations for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, for "Moonlight" (composed by John Williams) for the 1995 film Sabrina , and "Love Is Where You Are" (music by Mark Isham) for the 1999 film At First Sight . 1999 was the same year that the Bergmans received their most recent Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for "A Time to Dream"" (music by Hamisch) for the AFI's AFI's 100 Years 100 Movies Special.

The Kennedy Center commissioned the Bergmans to write a song cycle in 2001, they chose to collaborate with the composer Cy Coleman. The resulting work, Portraits in Jazz: A Gallery of Songs was performed on May 17, 2002. [5] The Bergmans wrote the lyrics to Billy Goldenberg's television musical Queen of the Stardust Ballroom which won the couple their third Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Achievement in Special Musical Material, it was later the couple's second Broadway show, Ballroom , which opened in 1978. [13]

In 2007 Alan Bergman released his first album as a vocalist, Lyrically, Alan Bergman , featuring lyrics written by him and his wife and arranged by Alan Broadbent and Jeremy Lubbock. [14] Reviewing the album for Allmusic, John Bush praised Bergman's "excellent interpretive skills" and Christopher Loundon in the JazzTimes described Bergman's voice as a "...revelation, suggesting both the wise, elder Sinatra and the astutely mellow Fred Astaire, with a touch of the offbeat dreaminess of Chet Baker." [15]

The Bergmans have had a long professional relationship with the singer and actress Barbra Streisand. In addition to their work on the films Yentl and The Way We Were , in which Streisand starred, the Bergmans wrote Streisand's "One Voice" concert which was released as a live album in 1987. Marilyn also served as the executive producer of the "One Voice" concert. The Bergmans' song "Ordinary Miracles" from Streisand's 1994 concert tour and HBO special won the couple their third Emmy Award, with the couple's script for the tour also being nominated for a CableACE Award. The Bergmans received their fifth Emmy nomination for the song "On the Way to Becoming Me" (music by Marvin Hamlisch) from the AFI tribute to Streisand. [2] The Bergmans have also served as board members of Streisand's charitable foundation. [16] Streisand's 2011 album What Matters Most was recorded in tribute to the Bergmans, and featured ten songs by the couple that she had not previously recorded. [17]

Most recently, The Bergman's collaborated with playwright Josh Ravetch in 2017 on Chasing Mem'ries: A Different Kind of Musical. The play opened to rave reviews as a world premiere at The Geffen Playhouse and was the recipient of the Edgerton New Play Award. The play starred Tyne Daly, Robert Forster and Scott Kradolfer. In the play, there were both classic Bergman songs and new songs written for the play that married in seamlessly with Ravetch's text. The songs became the inner-monologues of the characters in an unusual and touching way. It was one of the best received plays in the history of The Geffen Playhouse.

Awards and honors

The Bergmans have been the recipients of numerous academic honors and lifetime achievement awards. The couple were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980 and subsequently received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Hall of Fame in 1997. [3] The Bergmans were awarded honorary doctorates by the Berklee College of Music in 1995, they also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Songwriters that year. In 1996 the couple were the recipients of the inaugural Fiorello Lifetime Achievement Award from New York City's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. The Bergmans were later inducted into the LaGuardia High School's Hall of Fame. [5] [18] In 1986, Marilyn was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award. [19] Marilyn was later appointed an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture in 1996. [20] In 1998 Marilyn received an Honorary doctorate from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and in 2011 Alan was presented with a Distinguished Alumnus award from his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. The Bergmans were the recipients of the National Music Publishers Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, Marilyn was also the recipient of the Creative Arts Award from the Kaufman Cultural Center that same year. [3]

The Bergmans have held several executive positions in organizations connected with the arts. Marilyn served as the president and chairman of the board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for fifteen years, from 1994 to 2009. Bergman was elected president and chairman after having served five terms as the since 1984 as the first woman ever to serve on ASCAP's board of directors. Marilyn completed her term as president in April 2009 and has since continued to serve on the board of ASCAP. [2] Marilyn also served two terms as president of CISAC, The International Confederation of Performing Rights Societies. Alan has served on the boards of directors of The Johnny Mercer Foundation, The Artists' Rights Foundation and The Jazz Bakery. [2] The Bergmans have also served on the executive committee of the Music Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and have been board members of the National Academy of Songwriters. [3] Marilyn also served as the president of the National Recording Preservation Board. [21]

Notable lyrics

The Bergmans' notable lyrics and compositions include:


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