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Steve Lawrence death: Steve and Eydie co-founder dies aged 88

Steve Lawrence (Getty Images)
Steve Lawrence (Getty Images)

Steve Lawrence, one-half of the singing duo Steve and Eydie, which he formed with his late wife Eydie Gormé, has died. He was 88.

His death on Thursday (7 March) was announced by Susan DuBow, a spokesperson for the family. He died at his Los Angeles home from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Lawrence was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019. The diagnosis put a formal end to his touring career, which spanned 60 years.

“My Dad was an inspiration to so many people,” his son, David Lawrence, said in a statement. “But, to me, he was just this charming, handsome, hysterically funny guy who sang a lot. Sometimes alone and sometimes with his insanely talented wife. I am so lucky to have had him as a father and so proud to be his son. My hope is that his contributions to the entertainment industry will be remembered for many years to come.”

His death was preceded by Gormé’s in 2013. Together, they toured and made TV appearances in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies and continued to make appearances through 2009.

Born on 8 July 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, Lawrence grew up performing in synagogue choirs.

Steve Lawrence and wife Eydie Gormé with their son David (Getty Images)
Steve Lawrence and wife Eydie Gormé with their son David (Getty Images)

When he was a teenager, he met Gormé for the first time as she was leaving a building with singer Bob Manning. Recalling their first interaction in a 2014 Los Angeles Times interview, Lawrence said: “Bob said, ‘I want you to meet Eydie Gormé.’ She had her hair in a ponytail, and her ponytail hit me in my face.”

They later crossed paths a second time in 1953 when they were both booked to sing on The Tonight Show’s predecessor, Tonight!

In 1955, they collaborated on their first single, “(Close Your Eyes) Take a Deep Breath”/ “Besame Mucho”. They eventually got married in December 1957.

In 1960, they released their first three albums, including Steve & Eydie We Got Us. The record’s title song landed them a Grammy. Lawrence appeared in a 1964 Broadway production of What Makes Sammy Run, a role for which he earnt a Tony nomination. Then, in 1979, the pair won an Emmy for their NBC special, Steve & Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin.

Following Gormé’s death in 2013, Lawrence released his solo album When You Come Back to Me Again, which he had begun recording while she was ill. Completed after Gormé’s death, he dedicated it to her and would go on to release it on Valentine’s Day.

His final stage act came on Valentine’s Day in 2016 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, where he performed a selection of songs by Sinatra.

Lawrence is survived by his son David, daughter-in-law Faye, granddaughter Mabel and brother Bernie. His other son, Michael, died in 1986.