Eydie Gormé—a singing star from the early days of television, and the last years before rock asserted its dominance over the pop music scene—has died at 84. Although she had a few hits on her own, in the public’s mind, “Eydie” was inseparable from “Steve”—Steve Lawrence, her singing partner and husband of 55 years, whom she met when both were regulars performers on Steve Allen’s era of The Tonight Show.
Gormé was born Edith Gormezano, the daughter of Sicilian and Turkish immigrants living in the Bronx. Both her parents were Sephardic Jews who spoke both English and Spanish around the house, and Gormé would eventually record several Spanish-language albums for the Latin pop market, a niche that would become more and more important to her as the English-language audience for her brand of “classic” pop dried up in the 1970s. After dropping out of college to pursue her show business dreams, Gormé began performing with big bands led by Tommy Tucker and Tex Beneke. She landed a record deal in 1952 and, a year later, joined Steve Allen’s Tonight Show and met Lawrence. The two hit it off and, in 1954, released their first single as a duo, “Make Yourself Comfortable”/ “I Gotta Crow.”
Steve And Eydie, as the couple were billed, were married in December 1957. The very next year they hosted their own summer TV series. In 1960, they put out their first album as a duo, We Got Us, winning a Grammy for the title track. During those years, Gormé also recorded a string of successful solo tracks—most notably the 1963 Top 10 hit “Blame It On The Bossa Nova,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Steve and Eydie later made the charts with two songs written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, “I Want To Stay Here” and “I Can’t Stop Talking About You.” Brill Building pop was generally about as far as either singer felt comfortable straying from Gershwin, Cole Porter, and the Broadway songbook, even in an era when Frank Sinatra wasn’t above treating his audience to the sensitive song stylings of Jim Croce.
In 1968, Steve and Eydie co-starred in Golden Rainbow, a hit Broadway musical based on the Frank Sinatra movie A Hole In The Head. Throughout the ‘70s, the two were frequent presences on television. They were favorite guests of Carol Burnett, and starred in the TV specials Our Love Is Here To Stay (1975), From This Moment On… Cole Porter (1977), and Steve & Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin. In 1985, they played Tweedledum and Tweedledee in a semi-infamous, all-star TV production of Alice In Wonderland.
As their presence on the radio and pop charts declined, their medium of choice was the nightclub stage, where they remained hugely popular. Eydie also remained popular in Latin America, where she was, according to her husband, “like a diva.” Eydie officially retired in 2009, but not before seeing her kind of music achieve a new level of ironic appreciation during the lounge revival of the 1990s. As a token of their appreciation for the renewed interest, Steve and Eydie signed on for the 1997 tribute Lounge-A-Palooza, putting their stamp on Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” If nothing else, it gave Eydie the chance to close out her recording career by crooning, in the most appropriate context imaginable, the line “No one sings like you anymore.”