Eydie Gormé Biography

Edith Gorme, 16 August 1931, New York City, New York, USA. The youngest of three children, Gorme’s parents were of Turkish and Spanish origin, and since Spanish was the family language, she grew up speaking it fluently. At the age of three she made her radio debut, singing in a children’s programme from a department store. While at the William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx, Gorme was voted ‘the prettiest, peppiest cheerleader’, starred in the school musicals, and sang with her friend Ken Greengrass’ band at the weekends. On leaving school, she worked as a Spanish interpreter with the Theatrical Supply Export Company, before deciding to concentrate on a singing career, with Greengrass as her manager. Her first break came in 1950 when she successfully auditioned for band leader Tommy Tucker, and toured with him for two months. When that tour ended she spent a year with Tex Beneke before going out on her own, appearing in nightclubs, and on radio and television.

After being turned down several times by Arthur Godfrey’s talent scouts (‘the fourth time I tried, they locked the office door when they saw me coming up the stairs’), Gorme signed for Coral Records in 1952. Her singles included ‘Frenesi’, ‘I’ve Gotta Crow’, ‘Tea For Two’ and ‘Fini’, which entered the US Top 20. She also hosted her own radio show, Cita Con Eydie (A Date With Eydie), which was transmitted to Spanish-speaking countries via the Voice Of America. In September 1953, she became a permanent member of Steve Allen’s top-rated Tonight show, on which she sang, and wrote and performed sketches with another regular, Steve Lawrence. They also introduced Allen’s composition ‘This Could Be The Start Of Something (Big)’, which became associated with them as their singing partnership blossomed into romance. Lawrence was the son of Eastern European parents and had sung in the choir at his cantor father’s synagogue. Lawrence did make it onto the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show, in 1952, and had made an impression with his version of Tony Martin’s hit ‘Domino’.

An important and influential figure in both Gorme and Lawrence’s recording careers was conductor, arranger and producer Don Costa. In February 1956, Gorme deputized at short notice for Billy Daniels at New York’s Copacabana nightclub, and was so well received that she returned in July to headline with her own show. In January 1957, she made her Broadway debut in the Jerry Lewis Stage Show at the Palace Theatre, and in December, Gorme and Lawrence were married in Las Vegas. Gorme’s success in the US singles chart up to this period had included ‘Too Close For Comfort’, ‘Mama, Teach Me To Dance’ (both 1956), ‘Love Me Forever’ (1957) and the number 11 hit ‘You Need Hands’ (1958).

During the summer of 1958 the couple starred in their own weekly one-hour musical variety television show, as a replacement for Steve Allen. Shortly afterwards, Lawrence was inducted into the US Army for two years. Gorme embarked on a country-wide nightclub tour until 1960 when she was reunited with Lawrence at the Copacabana and the Coconut Grove, Los Angeles, and the Sands and Sahara Hotels in Las Vegas. In 1960 they won a Grammy Award for We Got Us, their first complete duet album, which was followed by several others, including Two On The Aisle, a set of Broadway show numbers and At The Movies. In the singles chart, the couple’s most successful joint efforts included ‘I Want To Stay Here’ (1963) and ‘I Can’t Stop Talking About You’ (1964). Eydie received a Grammy Award for Best Popular Female Vocalist for her version of ‘If He Walked Into My Life’, from Jerry Herman’s musical Mame. In 1968, the couple appeared on Broadway in Golden Rainbow, a musical adaptation of Arnold Schulman’s play A Hole In the Head, with words and music by Walter Marks. One of the songs, ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’, became the title of a Lawrence album, and also became a regular part of Sammy Davis Jnr.’s repertoire. In 1969, Gorme and Lawrence recorded their first musical, What It Was, Was Love, written for them by Gordon Jenkins.

During the 70s and 80s, the couple continued to record and appear regularly on television. Several of their ‘specials’, commemorating the music of composers such as Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin, won awards; Steve And Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin gained a record-breaking seven Emmys. In 1987, they were in a television production of Alice In Wonderland, written by Steve Allen, playing the parts of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. In 1989, they released Alone Together, on their own GL label. It was for their live performances, however, that they received the most applause. During the 80s, they appeared at venues such as Carnegie Hall in 1981 and 1983, the Universal Amphitheatre, in Los Angeles, Harrah’s, Tahoe, and the 1, 400-seater Bally’s at Las Vegas. Their skilful blend of classy songs (or, as they put it, ‘no punk, no funk, no rock, no schlock’), coupled with a brand of humour that has been honed for over 30 years, make them one of the few consistently successful acts of their kind in the world. In 1991, they saw quite a lot of that world, when they joined Frank Sinatra on his year long Diamond Jubilee Tour, to commemorate his 75th birthday.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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