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Singer Eydie Gorme, half of Steve Lawrence act, touched U.S., Latino audiences

| Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
This 1956 file photo shows Eydie Gorme. Gorme, a popular nightclub and television singer as a solo act and as a team with husband Steve Lawrence, has died. She was 84. Her publicist, Howard Bragman, says she died at a Las Vegas hospital Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 following an undisclosed illness. (AP Photo)

Eydie Gorme, a singer best remembered for her longtime act with her husband, Steve Lawrence, has died. She was 84.

Gorme, who had a solo hit in 1963 with “Blame it on the Bossa Nova,” passed away on Saturday in a Las Vegas hospital. She had a brief, undisclosed illness, said her publicist, Howard Bragman.

Gorme was a successful band singer and nightclub entertainer when she was invited to join the cast of Steve Allen's 1953 television show on a New York City station, which would become NBC's “Tonight Show” the next year.

She sang and performed comedy skits with Lawrence, a rising young singer. They married in Las Vegas in 1957. Lawrence and the couple's son, David, were among the loved ones by her side when she died, Bragman said.

“Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years,” Lawrence said in a statement. “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.”

Gorme, who was born in New York City to Sephardic Jewish parents, grew up speaking both English and Spanish. When she and her husband were at the height of their career as a team in 1964, Columbia Records President Goddard Lieberson suggested she put that Spanish to use in the recording studio.

The result was “Amor,” which was a hit throughout Latin America.

“Our Spanish stuff outsells our English recordings,” Lawrence said in 2004. “She's like a diva to the Spanish world.”

Gorme began to seriously consider a music career while a student at William Taft High School in the Bronx, where she had been voted the “Prettiest, Peppiest Cheerleader.”

After graduation, she worked as a Spanish interpreter and sang on weekends with the band of Ken Greenglass.

Her big break came when she landed a tour with the Tommy Tucker band.

Early in her career, Gorme considered changing her name, but her mother protested.

“It's bad enough that you're in show business. How will the neighbors know if you're ever a success?” she told her.

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