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Remembering Steve Lawrence: Half of Beloved Stage Duo Steve & Eydie, Entertainer and Singer, Passes Away at 88

StoriesRemembering Steve Lawrence: Half of Beloved Stage Duo Steve & Eydie, Entertainer and Singer, Passes Away at 88

Steve Lawrence, a well-known singer and stage performer who helped to revive Tin Pan Alley throughout the rock era both as a solo artist and in collaboration with his wife Eydie Gorme, passed away on Thursday. He was eighty-eight.

Lawrence, whose popular songs included “Go Away Little Girl,” passed away from Alzheimer’s-related issues, according to Susan DuBow, a family representative.

Steve & Eydie, also known as Lawrence and Gorme, were well-known for their regular appearances on talk shows, nightclubs, and Las Vegas stages. George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and other songwriters served as inspiration for the duo.

Lawrence and his spouse received approaches about altering their style not long after Elvis Presley and other rock music pioneers started to rule the airwaves and records.

In an interview from 1989, he remarked, “We had a chance to get in on the ground floor of rock ‘n’ roll.” “Everything was changing in 1957, but I wanted to be Frank Sinatra, not Rick Nelson.”

“Our audience knows we’re not going to load up on heavy metal or set fire to the drummer — although on some nights we’ve talked about it,” he laughed.

In the early 1960s, Lawrence and Gorme enjoyed successful solo careers barely months apart, despite their fame as a duo.

The Brill Building songwriting duo of Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote the heartbreakingly romantic ballad “Go Away Little Girl,” which gave Lawrence his breakthrough hit in 1962. The next year, Gorme equaled his popularity with “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” a lively song written by Brill hitmakers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil about a popular dance at the time.

By the 1970s, nightclubs around the nation and Las Vegas casinos were drawing large crowds for Lawrence and his spouse. They also frequently made appearances on television, both as guests and as specials.

When Vegas reduced its big-name performers and nightclubs became harder to find in the 1980s, the two moved to auditoriums and attracted sizable crowds.

In 1989, Lawrence remarked, “People come with a general idea of what they’re going to get with us.” It resembles a product. They purchase a particular cereal and are aware of what to anticipate from the packaging.”

Lawrence began performing professionally when he was fifteen years old. He tried out for “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” TV show twice and was rejected, but on his third attempt, he was approved. He won the competition and the opportunity to appear on Godfrey’s well-liked daytime radio show for a week.

The teenager’s powerful, two-octave voice attracted King Records, which signed him to a contract. More than 100,000 copies of his debut album, “Poinciana,” were sold, and his high school granted him permission to miss courses in order to promote it with out-of-town singing engagements.

Following multiple cameos on Steve Allen’s show, Lawrence was brought on as a regular. He followed the show when it changed to NBC’s “Tonight” in 1954, singing and joke-telling alongside Allen. The show established the format for the venerable “The Tonight Show.”

Following a five-year stint with the show’s host, Lawrence developed his comedic skills and gained a broad following through his singing. “I think Steve Allen was the biggest thing that happened to me,” Lawrence told reporters. “I was asked to perform something different every night. It was superior to vaudeville in certain ways.”

A young vocalist named Eydie Gorme joined the cast early on in the span of the series. In 1957, following four years of singing together, she and Lawrence tied the knot.

They continued to be well-liked up to Gorme’s passing in 2013, whether they were performing live together or appearing separately on TV.

His justification: “If we did television together all the time, why should anyone go see us in a club?”

He had appearances in television programs like The Nanny, Gilmore Girls, Diagnosis Murder, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

In 1958, he co-starred with his spouse in “The Steve Lawrence-Eydie Gorme Show,” then in 1965, Lawrence debuted on his own television program, “The Steve Lawrence Show”.

Without Gorme, he also appeared on stage, playing the lead in a 1962 summer stock production of “Pal Joey.” In 1964, he debuted on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award in the musical “What Makes Sammy Run?” which was adapted from the beloved novel by Budd Schulberg about a hustler from New York who works his way up to the top of the entertainment industry.

Although critics appreciated Lawrence, they awarded the play a poor rating. Nevertheless, it was profitable, and insiders said his performance was the reason for it.

In addition, Lawrence played a few supporting parts in motion pictures, including “The Yards,” “Blues Brothers 2000,” “Stand Up and Be Counted,” and “The Lonely Guy.”

Originally from New York, Lawrence and Gorme shared an apartment in Manhattan when they first started dating. They relocated to Beverly Hills as Hollywood became the hub of TV entertainment.

Lawrence was born Sidney Liebowitz in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. His father was a Jewish cantor and also a house painter. At the age of eight, he started singing in his father’s synagogue choir. By his mid-teens, he was performing in pubs and clubs. He got his name from his two nephews’ first names.

Michael and David, a composer, were the two sons he and Gorme had. Michael, who had heart issues for a long time, passed away at the age of 23 from heart failure in 1986.

His son David remarked, “My dad was an inspiration to so many people,” in a statement. But to me, he was just this endearing, attractive, absurdly witty, and prolific singer. At times by himself, at other times with his incredibly gifted spouse. I am extremely grateful for having him as a parent and extremely honored to be his son.

Bob Thomas, a former AP reporter, collated the biographical material included in this report.


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