Mention the names Steve and Eydie and automatically we know we are speaking of husband and wife singing legends, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. They blessed us with class, elegance, and heavenly voices. Popular nightclub and television singing performers together as a duo and also solo, they entertained the world of show business for six decades. Sadly, we lost Eydie Gorme Saturday afternoon on August 10, 2013, in Las Vegas at the age of 84. Steve Lawrence announced in a statement, “Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years. 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 time.”
Eydie Gorme was already an established and successful nightclub entertainer and band singer when she cut her first record in 1950 called “Powder and Paint” with the Tommy Tucker Band. She performed with Tex Beneke’s band, and did her own singing gigs on television and radio. One radio show was even broadcast by Voice of America directly to Latin America for a Spanish show called “Cita Con Eydie,” or “A Date with Eydie.” This broadcast lead to a lifelong love affair with Spanish-speaking countries giving her wider appeal and greater success.
When she was asked by Steve Allen to join his local New York television show in 1953, she agreed. Along with solos, Allen paired her with Steve Lawrence, also a member of the show, and the two performed duets and skits; their voices melding beautifully to enhance one another. When the show was picked up by NBC and renamed the Tonight Show in 1954, naturally the couple went along for the ride, making television history.
Shortly after their Las Vegas marriage in 1957 (despite objections from Lawrence’s mother), the couple became a summer replacement for Allen, with their own television show, The Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Show in 1958. Following their TV success, Lawrence entered the Army, thus ending their hit show, and Gorme headed back to the nightclub circuit for the next two years until his stint with Uncle Sam ended.
Combining their talents with the experience they had gained from working with Steve Allen, the couple jumped full force into developing a musical/comedy nightclub act, that included marital banter, with Lawrence usually interrupting her in mid sentence and lovingly leading them into an apropos song. Appearing in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, they later became Las Vegas headliners with sold out performances, and reportedly held lifetime Las Vegas contracts. I remember seeing them several times at Caesars Palace — they were truly a “class act.”
The couple refused to alter their image as the times changed and musicals styles came and went, retaining their class act all the way. They recorded solo songs and albums with great success. An article in The New York Times in 2004 reported, “The couple has recorded a prolific 93 albums, 12 Emmys, 2 Grammys, and innumerable national tours, they’re still singing together.” Sadly in 2009, Gorme retired, saying, “It’s about the first time in 50 years I’ll be able to finish a sentence without being interrupted.”
They enjoyed many successes on their own, most notably the 1962 hit by Lawrence, “Go Away Little Girl,” with Gorme hitting the Billboard charts the following year with “Blame It on the Bossa Nova.”
Eydie Gorme appeared on countless TV shows, including the Gary Moore Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Carol Burnett Show. During the late 1960s she co-hosted The Kraft Music Hall on NBC and The Hollywood Palace on ABC in 1970. She also won a Primetime Emmy for “Steve and Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin” in 1979.
Our hearts go out to Steve Lawrence and their family, as well as the world that will surely miss this great star.