Music Icon Passes Away, Shocks Industry

Iconic singer and entertainer Steve Lawrence died Thursday at the age of 88. His publicist, Susan DuBow, confirmed that he passed away from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease in Los Angeles. Lawrence was well known for his smooth voice, charming persona, and successful partnership with his wife and fellow singer, Eydie Gormé.

The Grammy and Emmy-winning crooner began his career as a teenager, signing with King Records after winning a talent competition on Arthur Godfrey’s CBS show. He chose to stick with traditional music, rather than the popular rock ‘n’ roll of the time, and released numerous solo albums throughout his career. His biggest hit was the 1963 song “Go Away Little Girl,” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, which became the first single in history to reach No. 1 by two different artists when Donny Osmond covered it in 1971.

Lawrence also had several other top 10 hits, including “Party Doll,” “Pretty Blue Eyes,” “Footsteps,” and “Portrait of My Love.” In addition to his solo success, he and Gormé were a popular duo, performing in nightclubs, concerts, and on television. They won an Emmy in 1979 for their NBC special, “Steve & Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin.”

Lawrence’s talents extended to Broadway, where he received a Tony nomination for his role in “What Makes Sammy Run?” and hosted a short-lived variety show on CBS in 1965. He also had memorable roles in films, including playing manager Maury Sline in “The Blues Brothers” in 1980 and its 1998 sequel. He appeared on numerous television shows, such as “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Sanford and Son,” and “The Nanny.”

Throughout their 55 years of marriage, Lawrence and Gormé were one of show business’ hottest couples, often being booked on variety shows and game shows. They were also a staple in Las Vegas, headlining at various casinos and winning multiple Las Vegas Entertainment Awards. In 1981, Lawrence achieved his long-time dream of performing at Carnegie Hall with Gormé.

Born in Brooklyn in 1935, Lawrence was raised in a musical household and was influenced by artists such as Frank Sinatra. He met Gormé when they were both booked on the same television show in 1953, and they began singing together, eventually releasing their first single in 1955. They married in 1957 and had two sons, one of whom passed away in 1986.

Lawrence’s death comes eight years after Gormé’s passing, and he had not performed in public since her death. However, on Valentine’s Day in 2016, he made a return to the stage, performing a selection of Sinatra songs. He released a solo album, “When You Come Back to Me Again,” dedicated to Gormé in 2014, which he had recorded during her illness.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2014, Lawrence spoke of the special bond he and Gormé shared: “Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years. 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.”

Lawrence is survived by his son, David, daughter-in-law Faye, granddaughter Mabel, and brother Bernie. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to be made to Alzheimer’s Los Angeles in memory of Lawrence.

The Hollywood Reporter