She is a composer, songwriter and author born Marilyn Keith in Brooklyn, New York. She attended the High School of Music & Art in New York New York University where she studied English and Psychology and at some point after graduation she moved to Los Angeles.
Here she met up with Alan Bergman who had been raised in the same neighbourhood as her and had been born at the same hospital but it took all those years and thousands of miles before they would come face to face for the first time. They married in 1958 and have since become known as one of the most successful collaborations in songwriting.
They began to see success as early as 1959 when Dean Martin recorded their “Sleep Tight” which was also the title track of the album conducted by Frank Sinatra who, in turn, recorded their “Love Looks So Well on You” for his 1962 Sinatra Sings of Love and Things. The following decades saw them writing the lyrics for hit songs such as “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, “Ol’ MacDonald”, “The Windmills of Your Mind”, “In the Heat of the Night”, “Yellow Bird”, “Nice ‘n’ Easy”, “Moonlight”, “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and countless others.
Having been nominated 16 times and receiving an Academy Award for “Windmills of Your Mind”, the score of Yentl and “The Way We Were”, she and her husband were the first to have three out of five songs nominated for an Academy Award in the same year in 1983. They were Yes, Giorgio – “If We Were In Love”, Tootsie – “It Might Be You” and Best Friends – “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” Writing countless other lyrics for music scores on television, movies and theatre their work has been heard on Yentl, The Way We Were, Sabrina, Ballroom, Good Times, Maude, A Star is Born, The Thomas Crown Affair, Once Upon a Time in America and Never Say Never Again.
With her husband she received a commission from The Kennedy Center in 2001 for a jazz song cycle and with collaboration with Cy Coleman, the result was Portraits in Jazz: A Gallery of Songs, which was premiered in May 2002. It has since run a series of performances in Los Angeles and will appear on Broadway with the title Up, Close and Musical.
More recent work has seen her and her husband in collaboration with Michel Legrand and Rupert Holmes on the musical The Man Who Was Magic.
In recognition for her contribution to music she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989, received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 1995, was made Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France in 1996, received the Johnny Mercer Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and currently serves as chairman and president of ASCAP. Her daughter Julie Bergman Sender is a producer of independent films.
Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius recordings
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Neil Diamond/Marilyn Bergman/Alan Bergman)