Spotlight on ……
Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme
Steve Lawrence (born July 8, 1935) is an American singer and actor, perhaps best known as a member of a duo with his wife Eydie Gormé, billed as Steve and Eydie.
Lawrence was born Sidney Liebowitz to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Anna (née Gelb) and Max Leibowitz, who was a cantor and house painter. Lawrence attended Thomas Jefferson High School. In the late 1950s, Lawrence was drafted into the Army and served as the official vocal soloist with The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" in Washington, D.C.
Gormé was born as Edith Garmezano in The Bronx, New York in 1928, the daughter of Fortuna and Nessim Garmezano. Her father was a tailor. She is a cousin of singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka. Her parents were Sephardic Jewish immigrants, her father from Sicily and her mother from Turkey. She graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1946 (film director Stanley Kubrick, also born in 1928, attended the school at the same time), and worked for the United Nations as an interpreter, using her fluency in the Ladino and Spanish languages.
She first worked in Tex Beneke's band. In 1951 she made several radio recordings that have been re-issued on vinyl LP and recently on CD, in 1952 Gormé went on to record solo and her first recordings were issued on the Coral label. She caught both her big break, and her future, life-long husband, when she and singer Steve Lawrence were booked to the original The Tonight Show, then hosted by Steve Allen.
Gormé and Lawrence were married in Las Vegas on December 29, 1957 at the El Rancho Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The had two sons, David Nessim Lawrence, who is a composer, and Michael, who died suddenly from ventricular fibrillation resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition in 1986, at the age of 23. Michael was an assistant editor for a television show at the time of his death and was apparently healthy despite a previous diagnosis of slight arrhythmia. Gormé and Lawrence were in Atlanta, Georgia at the time of his death, having performed at the Fox Theater the night before. Upon learning of the tragedy, Frank Sinatra, a friend, sent his private plane to pick up the couple so that they could fly to New York to meet their other son, David, who was attending school at the time. Following their son's death, the couple took a year off before touring again
Gorme and Lawrence became famous on stage for their banter, which usually involved tart, yet affectionate, and sometimes bawdy, references to their married life, which remained a feature of their live act. The two have appeared together ever since appearing regularly on The Tonight Show in the mid-1950s.
Lawrence had success on the record charts in the late 1950s and early 1960s with such hits as "Go Away Little Girl" (U.S. #1), "Pretty Blue Eyes" (U.S. #9), "Footsteps" (U.S. #7), "Portrait of My Love" (U.S. #9), and "Party Doll" (U.S. #5). "Go Away Little Girl" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Between 1953 and the 1970s, Lawrence first recorded for King Records then signed to Coral, then ABC-Paramount, then United Artists, then Columbia and finally MGM, never staying with a label for a long period of time.
Gormé enjoyed hit singles of her own, none selling bigger than 1963's "Blame It on the Bossa Nova", which was also her final foray into the Top 40 pop charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In the UK, "Yes my Darling Daughter" reached #10. She won a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance in 1967, for her version of "If He Walked Into My Life", from the musical Mame. The latter made #5 on the Billboard magazine Easy Listening chart in 1966, despite failing to make the Billboard Hot 100. Indeed, most of Gormé's singles chart success from 1963 onward was on the Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary side, where she charted 27 singles (both solo and with her husband) from 1963 to 1979 (of which "If He Walked Into My Life" was the most successful).
As a soloist, her other biggest hits during that period included "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?" from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (#17 Easy Listening, 1966) and "Tonight I'll Say a Prayer" (#45 Pop and #8 Easy Listening, 1969, also her last Hot 100 entry as a solo artist).
She gained crossover success in the Latin music market through a series of albums she made in Spanish with the famed Trio Los Panchos. In 1964, the two acts joined forces for a collection of Spanish-language standards called Amor. "Sabor a Mí" became closely identified with Gormé and emerged as one of her signature tunes. The disc was later reissued as "Canta en Español". In 1965, a sequel appeared called More Amor (later reissued as "Cuatro Vidas"). Her last album with Los Panchos was a 1966 Christmas collection, "Navidad Means Christmas", later reissued as "Blanca Navidad". Gormé also recorded other Spanish albums in her career, including the Grammy-nominated La Gormé (1976), a contemporary outing. The 1977 release Muy Amigos/Close Friends, a duet collection with Puerto Rican singer Danny Rivera, also received a Grammy nomination.
As a duo with her husband, the act was billed as Steve and Eydie. In 1960, the couple were awarded the Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group for the album, "We Got Us". Their biggest hit single as a duo, "I Want to Stay Here", was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and reached #28 in 1963. Under the pseudonym "Parker and Penny", Lawrence and Gormé achieved their last chart single (#46 on the Adult Contemporary chart) with a cover of the 1979 Eurovision song contest winner, "Hallelujah". The song most closely identified with the duo, the Steve Allen composition "This Could Be the Start of Something", never reached the charts, though it remains a staple in their live act.
Much of Steve Lawrence’s musical career has centered on nightclubs and the musical stage. Lawrence is an actor as well, appearing in guest roles on television shows in every decade since the 1950s, in shows such as The Danny Kaye Show, The Judy Garland Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Julie Andrews Hour, Night Gallery, Police Story, Murder, She Wrote, Gilmore Girls, and CSI. In the fall of 1965, Lawrence was briefly the star of a variety show called The Steve Lawrence Show, "the last television show in black and white on CBS". Lawrence also appeared in the last season of The Nanny as Fran's never-before-seen father, Morty Fine.
He and Gormé appeared together in the Broadway musical Golden Rainbow, which ran from February 1968 until January 1969. Although the show was not a huge success (a summary of this experience is chronicled in unflattering detail in William Goldman's 1968 book The Season), the show contained the memorable song "I've Gotta Be Me". This song was originally sung by Lawrence at the end of the first act of the musical; Sammy Davis, Jr. would later record a version of the song that became a Top 40 hit in 1969.
Since the 1970s, the couple has focused strictly on the American pop repertoire, recording several albums themed around individual American pop composers.
In 1980, Lawrence was introduced to a new generation of fans with his memorable portrayal of blackmailed manager Maury Sline in the hit movie The Blues Brothers with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
He played Mark McCormick's father Sonny Daye in two episodes of Hardcastle and McCormick. In 1999, he appeared as the much talked about, but never before seen, Morty Fine, father of Fran Fine in the television comedy series, The Nanny.
As the 21st Century arrived, the couple announced their plans to cut back on their touring, launching a "One More For The Road" tour in 2002. In 2006, Gormé became a blogger, posting occasional messages on her official website. In November 2009, after his wife retired, Lawrence embarked on a solo musical tour.
His 1964 rendition of the theme song from Bewitched was featured in the 2005 film of the same name.
Lawrence has been awarded a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Sammy Glick in What Makes Sammy Run? on Broadway (1964), and two Emmy Awards, one for production for Steve & Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin (1978).
With Gormé, he has been the recipient of two Emmies for Our Love is Here to Stay, a tribute to George and Ira Gershwin; a "Best Performance By a Vocal Duo or Group" Grammy Award for We Got Us; a Film Advisory Board's Award of Excellence and a Television Critics Circle Award for From This Moment On, a tribute to Cole Porter.
The duo have also won a Las Vegas Entertainment Award for "Musical Variety Act of the Year" four times, three of them consecutively. They have been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 1995 were the recipients of an Ella Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Singers, a non-profit organization that helps professional singers with counseling and financial assistance.