Thursday, October 25, 2012

The "Rest of the Story"

As promised,  ~ the rest of the story.   Steve Lawrence.
I noticed it has been more than two weeks since I posted the bit about Eydie Gorme.   There is something about age and time - the days go by much more quickly the older I get.   As they say " little time, so much to do."

Sidney Liebowitz, who will be referred to as Steve Lawrence from here on, was born in 1935 in Brooklyn to Max,  a Jewish cantor who also was a house painter, and  Anna Gelb Liebowitz.  He and his brother both sang in synagogue with their father.    Steve once commented, "My parents were so poor they were thinking of moving in with Eydie's parents!" 

When Steve's voice began to change he stopped singing for several years, but continued in music to play piano for his brother, Bernie.  Early in the '50's Bernie was drafted which prompted Steve to take up singing again.
After several auditions for Godfrey's Talent Scouts (TV Show) he finally made it, and won.  He prize was a weeks of appearances on Godfrey's show.  Borrowing suits from friends, he performed and got the attention he was seeking form Syd Nathan of King Records (known mostly for its "race" recordings, R&B and "hillbilly" music).   He recorded a very emotional "Poinciana" which became an instant hit.   Steve still had high school to finish, so balancing it with scheduling gigs recording for Decca Records was a challenge.  

According to some accounts, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were introduced Bob Manning, who was a Dick Haymes sound-alike.  Their paths crossed randomly for awhile, and they both made short music videos for the same company.  One reference states Steve looked so young in these he could be singing at his own bar mitzvah. 

Then, as I wrote in my previous blog on Eydie, they were booked as individuals for the Steve Allen Tonight Show, and later as summer replacements for Steve Allen's own show.   There are conflicting accounts of their ages, but all place Eydie at least five years Steve's senior.   Yup, he married an older woman.  And lucky for him because they became a great team. 

I probably should have done this duo as a double entry, but there seemed to be so much written about both I was a little stumped how to do them both justice.   Now I am stumped again because from here on their lives are intertwined and I don't want to repeat what I have already written. 

The Lawrence/Gorme team charmed their audiences with an easy chatter between them, often becoming personal and sharp witted, but always affectionate, even if a bit bawdy.   Their success as entertainers did not isolate them from tragedy.  They had two sons, David (who is a composer) and Michael, who died suddenly in 1986 at the age of 23.   Michael had a history of a slight arrhythmia but his ventricular fibrillation had not been caught.   He was an assistant editor of a television show at the time.  (A side note:  they had performed and were in Atlanta at time their son's death.   Frank Sinatra, hearing of it, sent his private plane to pick them so they could get to their other son who was in school.)   

Following their son's death, Steve and Eydie took a year off with no professional public appearances.   

In the early 2000's they announced they would be cutting back on appearances,   and began their "One More For The Road" tour in 2002.   Eydie retired in 2009, but Steve (remember? he's still "just a kid")
is still touring as a single. 

In 1980 Lawrence appeared in The Blues Brothers as Maury Sline. ANd in He played Mark McCormick's father Sonny Daye in two episodes of Hardcastle and McCormick; and in 1999 was Morty Fine in The Nanny.
He won awards for his performance of Sammy Glick in What Makes Sammy Run, and two Emmys  for his contributions to Steve & Eydie celebrate Irving Berlin. 

As a couple, Steve and Eydie took the Las Vegas Entertainment Award for Musical Variety four times; and honored with life time achievement awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Ella Lifetime Axhievement Award from the Society of Singers, a non-profit which aids and counsels professional singers.

Ihave to say, this is just a thumbnail of information on this very well known  couple.   They have been devoted to each other; they have experienced the ups and downs of  life just like the rest of us and they have done it gracefully. 

I am  leaving tomorrow to spend a bit of time with other music lovers and I am going to go right now and practice  "What DId I Have That I Don't Have?" on my Lowrey Prestige organ.  No, I won't kill it by singing along.    

SO, until Terpsichore (muse of song and dance) visits me again, keep a song in your heart, and share it with others.

Ref: A Biographical Gide to the Great Jazxz and Pop SIngers , Fiedwald
       The Big Band Almac


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