Eydie Gorme, a pop vocalist who entertained nightclub audiences and TV viewers
as a solo artist and with her husband, Steve Lawrence, died Saturday. She was
Gorme died at a Las Vegas hospital of an undisclosed illness, said
her publicist, Howard Bragman.
Since the mid-1950s, first as a soloist
and then as part of the Steve and Eydie duo, Gorme sang pop hits, standards and
show tunes while decked out in sequins and engaging in playful stage
Her first album with Lawrence, We Got Us, won a Grammy Award in
1960. The two also recorded separately, he making Billboard’s top 10 with “Go
Away Little Girl” in 1962 and she having a hit with “Blame It on the Bossa Nova”
in 1963 and winning a Grammy for “If He Walked into My Life” in
Together they starred in the Broadway musical Golden Rainbow in
“Eydie has been my partner onstage and in life for more than 55
years,” Lawrence said in a statement. “I fell in love with her the moment I saw
her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is
unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all
Gorme (pronounced Gor-MAY) had been a singer with the Tex Beneke
Band when Steve Allen hired her for his New York variety TV show in
Lawrence was also part of the show’s ensemble, and the two sang and
acted in comedy sketches. They made the leap with Allen when his Tonight show
was picked up by the NBC network in 1954, and for three years they were regulars
on the late-night hit.
In 1957 Gorme appeared with comedian Jerry Lewis
at the Palace Theater on Broadway and with comic Joe E. Brown in Las
That December she married Lawrence in Las Vegas. They returned to
television in 1958 with The Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Show before Lawrence
was called to the army.
While he served for two years, she performed on
her own, and upon his discharge in 1960 they resumed their professional
partnership, billing themselves as Steve and Eydie.
“What has been the
nature of their success?” Allen said in a 1996 Times story. “First, the fact
that they are a couple has something to do with it.
Secondly, they are
damned good singers. And thirdly – this has both hurt and helped them – they
concentrated for the most part on good music. This lost them the youthful
audience, who prefer crap to Cole Porter’s music. But it endeared them to people
with sophisticated taste.”
Gorme was born August 16, 1928, in the Bronx,
New York, to Sephardic Jewish immigrants. Her father was a tailor from Sicily
and her mother was from Turkey. Before her singing career took off, Gorme worked
as a Spanish-language interpreter.
In the mid-1960s she was pitched the
idea of a Spanish-language recording. Amor and a followup album with the Mexican
group Trio Los Panchos became hits in the US and Latin America.
Lawrence continued to perform on television variety shows, winning an Emmy for
the 1978 special Steve and Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin, and on tour as a duo
and opening for Frank Sinatra and others.
Besides her husband of nearly
56 years, Gorme is survived by their son David and a granddaughter. The couple’s
other son, Michael, who had a heart condition, died in 1986 at age 23.
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