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Thursday 09 October 2008


Eydie Gorme: A tribute to a neglected gay icon

Posted in: Music
By Doreen Agassiz-Suddens - 22nd August 2008

EydieGorme2.jpg
Adored: Eydie Gorme
Eydie Gorme (prononounced Gormay) turns 77 years old this month. In the US she's a gay icon along with Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, and the other Torch singing ladies. But in New Zealand she is almost unknown.

For over six decades she has been a singer of Broadway, jazz, pop, and an important interpreter of the Great American Songbook, which includes George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin.

Her cousin Neil Sedaka is well-known, and even the guy she went to high school with, Stanley Kubrick is, but not Eydie. I fell in love with her voice over 40 years ago when she was half way through the first track on her album Gorme sings Show Stoppers and I've been hooked ever since. It was the first time I knew that it was possible to fall in love with a voice.

Through the help of Google, and You Tube, I have made the delightful discovery that Eydie Gorme is much loved by gay men in the U.S. By searching for Eydie on Google Blog, it appears that many of the bloggers turn out to be gay men, who not only adore Eydie, but her husband Steve Lawrence also, who seems to have played a part in their early days of discovering their homosexuality. As one blogger said "she is a great singer, he is pretty". As Steve and Eydie have now been married, and singing together, for over 50 years, they have become Camp entertainment, as they are among the only few living singers of the Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis jnr, and Dean Martin era. In fact they did a world tour with Frank Sinatra in the early 1990s.

Eydie had been considered for the Broadway productions of Funny Girl (which was to star gay icon Barbra Streisand), and Flora the Red Menace, that gave us Liza Minnelli. Eydie was also a Grammy award winner for the song If He Walked into my Life by gay Broadway composer Jerry Herman. The song was from his Broadway musical Mame.

Eydie Gorme's If He Walked into my Life can be heard on the clip below, and there are many other Gorme songs on You Tube. Also to be viewed is a drag queen in Florida who specialises in lip-synching to Eydie's songs. Her name is Lady Fancy and she was the winner of the Miss South Florida Illusion Classic 2007-2008.

At a time when Eydie is celebrating her 77th birthday, and is also in failing health, I think it is only fitting that we salute her as somebody who has always had the same sensibilities of all of us in the gay and lesbian community, and to wish her well. I also wish that she was more well-known and loved within the New Zealand gay community, but with You Tube there is still time.


Doreen Agassiz-Suddens - 22nd August 2008