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Women in Film oral history interview, 2006 October 12 : Marilyn Bergman

Author: Marilyn Bergman; Ilene Kahn; Women in Film (Organization); Women in Film Foundation.
Edition/Format:   Film : Film   Visual material : English
Publication:Women in Film Foundation Legacy Series.
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Marilyn Bergman (1929-) discusses her early life in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York where her parents sent her to an experimental school that taught French and had a very extensive arts program. She continues with her interest in poetry and lyric writing and her interest in becoming a psychoanalyst. She continues with the artists that inspired her such as the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Lerner  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Oral history
Interviews
Named Person: Marilyn Bergman; Alan Bergman; Fred Astaire; Lew Spence; Frank Sinatra; Quincy Jones; Michel Legrand; Norman Jewison; Barbra Streisand; Cy Coleman
Material Type: Film
Document Type: Visual material
All Authors / Contributors: Marilyn Bergman; Ilene Kahn; Women in Film (Organization); Women in Film Foundation.
OCLC Number: 423640413
Notes: 4.1-hour interview completed under the auspices of the Women in Film Foundation.
Materials not viewed. Length of interview and summary based on transcript.
Responsibility: interviewer, Ilene Kahn Power.

Abstract:

Marilyn Bergman (1929-) discusses her early life in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York where her parents sent her to an experimental school that taught French and had a very extensive arts program. She continues with her interest in poetry and lyric writing and her interest in becoming a psychoanalyst. She continues with the artists that inspired her such as the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Lerner and Lowe, Burton Lane, Leo Robin, and Julie Stein who all were writing for performers such as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. She continues with her admiration of Fred Astaire (1899-1987) and his recording of an Alan Bergman song, That face, which Alan Bergman wrote as an engagement present for Marilyn when he proposed. She continues with her parents' move to Los Angeles during her last year of college at New York University because her father's business had shifted to the West Coast. She continues with her reasons for moving there with them after a fall down a flight of stairs forced her into a body cast and she was unable to take care of herself. She continues with how she had no friends in Los Angeles, no connection to the city, and her belief that she would stay only for about four or five months. She continues with how she was introduced to Lew Spence and writing their first song together, That's him over there, which was immediately accepted by a publisher and recorded by Peggy Lee in 1952. She continues with Spence introducing her to Alan Bergman (1932-) and the three of them writing a song together, which eventually led to them writing the song Nice 'n' easy, which was recorded by Frank Sinatra (1915-1998). She continues with how her relationship with Alan Bergman (1932-) turned from that of collaborators to romance during a Christmas trip to New York City (the couple married in 1958). She continues with the couple's early foray into writing Calypso songs which produced their breakthrough song, Yellow bird. She then talks about meeting Quincy Jones (1933-), a neighbor of the Bergmans in Los Angeles, who invited the couple to write songs with him for the motion picture, In the heat of the night (1967), directed by Norman Jewison (1926-). She continues with the couple's collaboration over the years with Norman Jewison (1926-), and their long collaboration with the composer, Michel Legrand (1932-). She then discusses the process on What are you doing for the rest of your life?, a song written for Richard Brooks' film, The happy ending (1969). She continues with how her process melds with her husband's, collaborating with Barbra Streisand (1942-), and writing The way we were for the motion picture of the same name that was released in 1973. She then talks about her daughter, Julie, who is a film producer and political activist. She continues with her involvement with the American Society of Composers (ASCAP) and the downloading and the proliferation of means of accessing music without paying for it, which cuts into royalities for songwriters who rely heavily on the sales of CDs and performance rights. She continues with her involvement and formation of the Hollywood Women's Political Committee and ways it influenced electing women candidates to political office. She then speaks about how music in movies is used differently today in that it is not necessarily connected with the fabric of the story. She continues with current projects she and her husband are involved in, including a theater piece titled In the pocket, that they did with Cy Coleman (1929-2004). She continues with the three Academy Awards she and her husband have won, how the two of them continue to work together, the process of identifying your part in a movie, and how that process informs a song's reason for being. She continues with collaborating with Barbra Streisand on the motion picture Yentl (1983), blocking out the entire film, and punctuating the emotional peak of the film with the song, Papa can you hear me? She concludes with her thoughts on how challenging it is for women in the film business due to the higher expectations and demands placed on them in comparison to the men who work in corporate Hollywood.

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