Singer Eydie Gorme Dies at 84

Eydie Gorme Obituary
Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Entertainer had hit with "Blame it on the Bossa Nova"

Eydie Gorme, a popular nightclub and television singer as a solo act and as a team with her husband, Steve Lawrence, died Saturday in Las Vegas. She was 84.

Gorme, who also had a huge solo hit in 1963 with “Blame it on the Bossa Nova,” died following a brief, undisclosed illness, said her publicist, Howard Bragman.

Gorme was a successful band singer and nightclub entertainer when she was invited to join the cast of Steve Allen’s local New York television show in 1953.

She sang solos and also did duets and comedy skits with Lawrence, a rising young singer who had joined the show a year earlier. When the program became NBC’s “Tonight Show” in 1954, the young couple went with it.

They married in Las Vegas in 1957 and later performed for audiences there. Lawrence, the couple’s son David and other loved ones were by her side when she died, Bragman said.

“Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years,” Lawrence said in a statement. “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.”

Although usually recognized for her musical partnership with Lawrence, Gorme broke through on her own with the Grammy-nominated “Blame it on the Bossa Nova.” The bouncy tune about a dance craze of the time was written by the Tin Pan Alley songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Her husband had had an equally huge solo hit in 1962 with “Go Away Little Girl,” written by the songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

Gorme would score another solo hit in 1964, but this time for a Spanish-language recording.

Gorme, who was born in New York City to Sephardic Jewish parents, grew up speaking both English and Spanish. When she and her husband were at the height of their career as a team in 1964, Columbia Records President Goddard Lieberson suggested she put that Spanish to use in the recording studio.

The result was “Amor,” recorded with the Mexican combo Trio Los Panchos.

The song became a hit throughout Latin America, which resulted in more recordings for the Latino market, and Lawrence and Gorme performed as a duo throughout Latin America.

“Our Spanish stuff outsells our English recordings,” Lawrence said in 2004. “She’s like a diva to the Spanish world.”

Gorme and Lawrence, meanwhile, had an impressive, long-lasting career in English-language music as well, encompassing recordings and appearances on TV, in nightclubs and in concert halls.

Throughout it, they stuck for the most part with the music of classic composers like Berlin, Kern, Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and other giants of Broadway and Hollywood musicals. They eschewed rock ‘n’ roll and made no apologies for it.

“People come with a general idea of what they’re going to get,” Lawrence said of their show in a 1989 interview. “They buy a certain cereal, and they know what to expect from that package.”

Soon after their marriage, the pair had landed their own TV program, “The Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Show,” which was a summer replacement for Allen.

Not long after that, however, Lawrence entered the Army, and Gorme went on the nightclub circuit as a soloist until his return to civilian life two years later.

After his discharge, Lawrence and Gorme quickly reteamed, and their careers took off.

They appeared at leading nightclubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Las Vegas, combining music with the comedy bits they had learned during their apprenticeship on Allen’s show.

With nightclubs dwindling in popularity in the 1980s, they moved their act to large theaters and auditoriums, drawing not only older audiences but also the Baby Boomers who had grown up on rock ‘n’ roll.

Gorme, who was born Aug. 16, 1928, began to seriously consider a music career while still a student at William Taft High School in New York City’s borough of the Bronx, where she had been voted the “Prettiest, Peppiest Cheerleader.”

After graduation, she worked as a Spanish interpreter for a time but also sang on weekends with the band of Ken Greenglass, who encouraged her and eventually became her manager.

Her first big break came when she landed a tour with the Tommy Tucker band, and she followed that up with gigs with Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle and on radio and television. Among her radio appearances was one on a Spanish language show, “Cita Con Eydie (“A Date with Eydie”), which was beamed to Latin America by Voice of America.

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  1. GORDON LINNELL, ELLESMERE PORT, ENGLAND. says:

    When I acquired my first record player in 1961 the first six albums I bought were all by Eydie, all outstandingly good. I worshipped her!!

  2. Robert Hallock says:

    Like many others who knew her only from her records I somehow feel a personal loss. Why? I think it is because she packed so much emotional power in her wonderful singing. It hit you in the gut. Nobody could belt out a torch song like Eydie.

  3. Adolfo Soto says:

    From Guatemala City shared grief over the death of Eydie Gorme, when I was very young when my father listened reproduced on the record player Eydie successes and Trio Los Panchos. Unquestionably she is at this time delighting other beings who like her have crowned this earthly life and have reached a higher level one. We hope that at some point we can get the minimum merit and reach that other life and we continue to listen to Eydie.

  4. abigail says:

    I knew their son David when we were very little, and still remember how kind his mother was. To the family, most of all, the warmest condolences.

  5. Chuck Casson says:

    Eydie Gorme was one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Her recordings, “I’ll Take Romance,” “What Did I Have, I Don’t Have Now,” and “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” were superb! She and husband, Steve Lawrence, were a class act that will never be forgotten. A I remember it, they were a favorite duo of Carol Burnett and appeared on her show often. Rest in peace dear Eydie.

  6. Pam Carter says:

    Fell in love with them when The Steve Allen show came to Australia. Eydie you have filled many hours of my life with your beautiful voice. I’m grateful that you came here so I could see you in person. Shalom. His peace be with you.

  7. She was my favorite female vocalist. I have some of her recordings and last heard her and Steve perform in Dallas, in the heat outside. My thoughts and prayers go with all her family. Graham McClintock, Mobile, AL

  8. RIP Edie…..saw you & Steve several times in Sarasota Florida….always a great show….thanks for all the memories…Judy & Ron Kurlander

  9. Total class act. Shocked to see the obituary omitted their long touring history and friendship with Frank Sinatra.

  10. EK says:

    A great singer with fantastic range. Both she and Steve were a great couple and very good people. They are show biz royalty and hark back to an era when great vocal stylists ruled in the hey day of nightclubs, variety TV and more intimate concerts. She had legions of fans, including the biggest musical stars of her era. Obit correction: her manager was Ken Greengrass, not Greenglass. I had the pleasure of working for him and them back in the 60’s. They were the best!

  11. Bob Alberti says:

    In my past association with Eydie, I always appreciated her musical sensitivity and her wonderful wit. All of us who recall the golden era of music will miss her.

  12. Amy Miller says:

    I was born in 1953; I loved this team for years-their tv & their music. When I visit you in my mind, I will leave a rock.RIP♡

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