Steve Lawrence (born Sidney Liebowitz; July 8, 1935) is an American singer and actor, best known as a member of a duo with his late wife Eydie Gormé, billed as "Steve and Eydie". The two appeared together since appearing regularly on Tonight Starring Steve Allen in the mid-1950s until Gormé's retirement in 2009 (Gormé subsequently died August 10, 2013).
Lawrence in 1999
|Birth name||Sidney Liebowitz|
|Born||July 8, 1935|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Big band, swing, traditional pop music|
Lawrence was born as Sidney Liebowitz in the Brooklyn borough of New York City to Jewish parents, Max, a cantor in The Bronx, and Helen. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School. Steve also attended PS 174 in the East New York section across from his house and later went to PS 109 in the Brownsville section.
Lawrence had success on the record charts in the late 1950s and early '60s with such hits as "Go Away Little Girl" (U.S. #1), "Pretty Blue Eyes" (U.S. #9), "Footsteps" (U.S. #7), "Portrait of My Love" (U.S. #9), and "Party Doll" (U.S. #5). "Go Away, Little Girl" sold over 1 million copies and was awarded a Gold record. However, much of his musical career has centered on nightclubs and the musical stage. He is also an actor, appearing in guest roles on television shows in every decade since the 1950s, in shows such as The Danny Kaye Show, The Judy Garland Show, The Julie Andrews Hour, Night Gallery, The Flip Wilson Show, Police Story, Murder, She Wrote, Gilmore Girls, and CSI. His appearances on The Carol Burnett Show (1967-78), with and without wife Eydie, were especially ubiquitous. In the fall of 1965, Lawrence was briefly the star of a variety show called The Steve Lawrence Show, "one of the last television shows in black and white on CBS."
He and Gormé appeared together in the Broadway musical Golden Rainbow, which ran from February 1968 to January 1969. Although the show was not a huge success (a summary of this experience is chronicled in unflattering detail in William Goldman's 1968 book The Season), the show contained the memorable song "I've Gotta Be Me." This song was originally sung by Lawrence at the end of the first act of the musical; Sammy Davis, Jr. would later record a version of the song that became a Billboard Top 25 hit on its Hot 100 pop singles chart in 1969. None less than the "Chairman of the Board" himself, Frank Sinatra, was known to have repeatedly stated that the best male vocalist he had ever heard was Steve Lawrence, although he also repeatedly said the same of Tony Bennett.
He starred as Gary McBride in the 1972 film Stand Up and Be Counted, opposite Jacqueline Bisset and Stella Stevens. In 1980, he was introduced to a new generation of fans with his portrayal of Maury Sline in The Blues Brothers and later reprised the role in the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000. His other films include the Steve Martin comedy The Lonely Guy (1984) and the crime thriller The Yards (2000).
In 1984, he and comic Don Rickles hosted ABC's Foul-Ups, Bleeps & Blunders.
In 1985, Steve and Eydie Gorme played Tweedledee (Gorme) and Tweedledum (Lawrence) in Irwin Allen's film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
He played Mark McCormick's father, Sonny Daye, in two episodes of Hardcastle and McCormick. In 1999, he appeared as the much-talked about, but never really seen, Morty Fine, father of Fran Fine in a few of the final episodes of The Nanny. In 2011, he portrayed Jack, a wealthy love interest of Betty White's character, Elka Ostrovsky, on Hot in Cleveland. In 2014, he guest-starred in an episode of Two and a Half Men on CBS, and sang the theme song to the parody miniseries The Spoils of Babylon.
Lawrence and Gormé married on December 29, 1957, at the El Rancho Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. They had two sons together. David Nessim Lawrence (b. 1960) is an ASCAP Award-winning composer who composed the score for High School Musical. Michael Robert Lawrence (1962–1986) died suddenly from ventricular fibrillation resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 23. Michael was an assistant editor for a television show at the time of his death and was apparently healthy despite a previous diagnosis of slight arrhythmia.
Gormé and Lawrence were in Atlanta, Georgia, at the time of Michael's death, having performed at the Fox Theater the night before. Upon learning of the death, family friend Frank Sinatra sent his private plane to fly the couple to New York to meet David, who was attending school at the time. Following their son's death, Gormé and Lawrence took a year off before touring again.
Gormé died on August 10, 2013.
Lawrence received a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Sammy Glick in What Makes Sammy Run? on Broadway (1964), and two Emmy Awards, one for production for Steve & Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin (1978).
With Gormé, he has been the recipient of two Emmys for Our Love is Here to Stay, a tribute to George and Ira Gershwin; a "Best Performance By a Vocal Duo or Group" Grammy Award for We Got Us; a Film Advisory Board's Award of Excellence and a Television Critics Circle Award for From This Moment On, a tribute to Cole Porter.
The duo also won a Las Vegas Entertainment Award for "Musical Variety Act of the Year" four times, three of them consecutively. They were honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 1995 were the recipients of an Ella Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Singers, a non-profit organization that helps professional singers with counseling and financial assistance.
- Biography from Las Vegas Online.
- 2003 Interview with Larry King, from a CNN website (web archive from Wayback Machine).
- US Army Band "Pershing's Own" https://www.usarmyband.com/history/the-1950s-and-1960s.html
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 147. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Steve Lawrence on IMDb.
- William Goldman, The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969. p. 310. ("Harnick shook his head sadly and said, 'The trouble with washing garbage is that when you're done, it's still garbage.' This was the story of Golden Rainbow, as we shall see.").
- AllMusic.com, "I've Gotta Be Me" (Davis' version peaked at number 24).
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- Ahmed, Saeed (August 11, 2013). "Singer Eydie Gorme dies at 84". CNN. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- "Steve Lawrence Has Been Diagnosed with Alzheimer's: 'What I Feel Is Gratitude, Love, and Hope'". People. June 11, 2019.
- Official website of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé.