In 1953 Gormé auditioned for NBC’s Steve Allen Show, which became the Tonight show. She impressed them with her talent and the fact that she knew 2,000 songs. She was soon dating cast member Steve Lawrence (born Sidney Leibowitz) and they teamed up for songs and sketches. Performing live didn’t intimidate them and as Gormé recalled, “The beauty was, if you screwed up, that’s what people loved.” Lawrence sang three guest vocals with Gormé on her début album, Delight (1953).
In 1956 Gormé had a US hit with “Too Close for Comfort” from the musical Mr Wonderful, and followed it with “Mama, Teach Me to Dance”. When Jerry Lewis played the Palace on Broadway to establish himself as a solo star, he booked Gormé as his opening act. She stunned audiences with the torch ballad “Guess Who I Saw Today”, causing Lewis to remark, “Whatdya know, I came to Broadway and you stole the headlines.”
She had her first UK hit with “Love Me Forever” in 1957 and she sold well with the albums Eydie Gormé and Eydie Swings the Blues. She and Lawrence developed a night club act which incorporated solo spots, comedy songs and lively banter; they married in December 1957 while working in Las Vegas.
In 1958 they had their own TV series, The Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé Show, but Lawrence was seven years younger than Gormé and their career stalled when he was conscripted. Gormé continued alone, notably with the albums Eydie Gormé Vamps the Roaring 20s and Eydie in Love.
While British acts were noted for recording cover versions of US hits, the Lawrences were unusual in spotting British hits they could record for the American market. Gormé had US successes with “You Need Hands” and “Gotta Have Rain”, which had both been written and recorded by Max Bygraves, while Lawrence took the sales from Matt Monro on “Portrait of My Love”.
In 1961 the golden couple came to London for a short season at the Pigalle. The Musicians’ Union boycotted their appearance as they had brought their own trumpeter and drummer, thereby depriving British musicians of work. They argued that British musicians reading the scores would not pick up on the spontaneity of their act and they were allowed to continue.