It’s been a crappy few months for the elders of fern. Donna Summer, Andy Gibb, Nolan Miller, Nora Ephron, Sally Ride, Sherman Hemsley – how many more times can the staff at Rita’s raise a valedictory glass of buttery Chardonnay to those now skedaddling to the Great Regal Beagle in the Sky? (Actually, you don’t want to know the answer to that.)
Earlier this week, EGOT winner Marvin Hamlisch croaked head-first into the potted rhododendron, and though me and my fellow gingham-clad overlords at the Rita’s Fern Bar blog paid our respects with a video tribute, it still didn’t feel like enough.
Me, I hadn’t realized how much I loved Marvin Hamlisch’s creativity, his versatility, his jauntiness and his sheer output until I studied his CV. Growing up in a rural California town in the ’80s, it seemed Marvin Hamlisch was always at the epicenter of what I considered glamorous - award shows, Broadway musicals, Liza and Barbra and Aretha and Melissa Manchester. So much razzle dazzle! He seemed to live a pretty charmed life, one I wouldn’t have minded emulating someday.
Plus, to reiterate: the guy was ferny.
How ferny was Marvin Hamlisch? Oh, wow – glad you asked. Because when it came to literally orchestrating the lives of millions in the age of Henry Africa, nobody did it better than Hamlisch. Really! Marvin Hamlisch wrote “Nobody Does It Better,” the Carly Simon-trilled 1977 hit that also serves as the second-ferniest Bond theme in history. (Establishment namesake Rita Coolidge sung one, and therefore holds the top honor Ad vitam aeternam.)
His other credits are nothing to droop your frond at, either: Romantically linked to Carole Bayer Sager. Ferny. Right-hand man to Barbra Streisand before, during and after the perm years. So ferny. Right-hand man and – according to her, so take it with a grain of floor salts – best friend to Liza Minnelli before, during and after the David Gest years. Jazzy! Ferny! Scored Ordinary People, The Way We Were, and Sophie’s Choice. Sad, ferny. Served as the principle pops conductor for six separate symphonies. Dude, pops are seriously the ferniest. Erroneously referred to as “Marvin Hammelsmisch” - by Cher, no less - at the 1973 Academy Awards. SHADE THROWN! FROM ONE FERNY HO TO ANOTHER! He also scored A Chorus Line, for Chrissakes. Possibly the very most ferny thing a man could do.
Except, perhaps, downloading “The Entertainer” and making it your new ringtone. Which I just did.