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Eydie Gormé Dies, Singing Legend Was 84

Concert and recording superstar Eydie Gormé, who – performing everything from ballads to bossa nova with singing partner and husband Steve Lawrence – made an indelible impression on American audiences during the swingin' '60s, died Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas, her spokesman, Howard Bragman, tells PEOPLE. She was 84.

"Legendary singer and performer Eydie Gorme passed away peacefully today at Sunrise Hospital following a brief illness," Bragman said in a statement. "She was surrounded by her husband, son and other loved ones at the time of her death."

In his own statement, Steve Lawrence said: "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."

He added: "While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time."

A favorite on The Ed Sullivan Show, in showrooms in the Catskills and in Las Vegas – where they married on Dec. 29, 1957, and later took up permanent residence – as well as on stages, including Carnegie Hall, Steve and Eydie, as they were known, sang popular hits of the day, including Broadway standards, and exchanged pointed personal banter – all of which their audiences ate up.

A Gift for Languages and for Singing Born in the Bronx to a tailor originally from Sicily and a mother from Turkey, Gormé was a Sephardic Jew whose real name was Edith Garmezano. Spanish was spoken in the home, while at William Howard Taft High School she became the Taft Swing Band's lead female vocalist.

Her gift for languages helped land her a job as a translator at the United Nations shortly after high-school graduation, and her mellifluous voice soon got her an audition with Tex Beneke's Big Band. A year's tour followed, as did a contract with Coral Records.

She met Lawrence, a cantor's son (his original surname was Leibowitz), in September 1953 on Steve Allen's Tonight show. Booked for two weeks as the program's vocalist, she ended up staying five years. Lawrence was also a regular on the show, and the two were often paired in musical numbers and comic sketches.

Once married, in 1958 they had their own summer TV show, which was canceled after the one season because Lawrence was drafted into the Army. Gormé then performed in nightclubs around Washington, D.C., where he was stationed, and after his discharge in 1960, the "Steve and Eydie" act was born, as was their legend.

So accustomed were the two to appearing together, that when Lawrence did a show by himself in 2009 – Gormé had retired and took up blogging on her and her husband's website – he told Newsday that it was strange. "It's also about the first time in 50 years I'll be able to finish a sentence without being interrupted."

Not that they didn't have successes on their own. In 1962, Lawrence had his great hit, "Go Away Little Girl." A year later, Gormé scored on the Billboard charts with "Blame It on the Bossa Nova." The bouncy number made her an international star, and she became a Latin crossover artist when she began singing in Spanish the following year.

A Son Who Predeceased Her Gormé and Lawrence had two sons: David, and composer, and Michael, who died in 1986, at 23, from an undiagnosed heart condition. Steve and David Lawrence survive her, as does a granddaughter and generations of fans. "Services are pending and will be private," said Bragman.

"A prolific 93 albums, 12 Emmys, 2 Grammys and innumerable national tours later, they're still singing together," The New York Times reported in 2004, when the two headliners performed to an appreciative crowd in Westbury, Long Island.

The newspaper added: "At the end of a show that lasted nearly three hours, Ms. Gormé's sign-off, 'God bless us all,' prompted a standing ovation."

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by Anonymousreply 13August 11, 2013 2:41 PM

She was one of the living legends that I wanted to see before they passed, and now it´s too late.

I´m glad I got to see Sinatra, Elvis, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and Mel Torme before they left this mortal coil.

Others that I got to see who are still living include Tony Bennett, Barbra, Liza, Cher and Carol Channing.

by Anonymousreply 1August 11, 2013 12:14 AM

Sad. :(

by Anonymousreply 2August 11, 2013 2:15 AM

This is a sad moment. Loved her singing and even more when she sang in Spanish. She was a part of many peoples lives through her appearances in theater and television. Another star is dark.

by Anonymousreply 3August 11, 2013 2:22 AM

How did R1 manage to make it all about him?

Oh, because it's R1.

by Anonymousreply 4August 11, 2013 2:26 AM

I just got a friend at work interested in her.

RIP Eydie.

by Anonymousreply 5August 11, 2013 2:29 AM

I blame her death on the bossa nova.

by Anonymousreply 6August 11, 2013 2:31 AM

It's the DataLounge curse again! There was just a thread about her (started 7/22) and now she's gone.

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by Anonymousreply 7August 11, 2013 2:33 AM

It's on nights like this I miss Larry King. Now, who will sit shiva with us?

by Anonymousreply 8August 11, 2013 2:41 AM

Oh, man. Kiss today goodbye.

by Anonymousreply 9August 11, 2013 2:44 AM

Blame it on the bossa nova...

by Anonymousreply 10August 11, 2013 2:49 AM

When I was growing up back in the day performers like Steve and Eydie, jack Jones, VIcki Carr, etc. were regulars on variety shows (Sullivan, Carol Burnett, etc) or talk shows (Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv) . With the decline of such programs, what venues are there for up and coming vocalists outside of New York City's cabaret scene?

by Anonymousreply 11August 11, 2013 2:53 AM

I love her album with Trios Los Panchos album (the first one). My mom used to play it when I was a child.

What a sad week. First, Karen Black and now Eydie.

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by Anonymousreply 12August 11, 2013 2:53 AM

R7, more about the DL Curse? What other threads spawned a celebrity death?

by Anonymousreply 13August 11, 2013 2:41 PM
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