Friends remember Gorme's talent, wit


For those who saw Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme close the Stardust on Oct. 28, 2006, it was also the last time many of us saw the legendary duo on stage together.

In a nod to another era, the old Vegas crowd showed up dressed to the nines to pay homage to the Stardust and one of the most beloved husband-wife acts in show business.

The image of Steve and Eydie singing Sinatra and cracking up the crowd with their banter flashed back with the sad news that Gorme had died Saturday in Las Vegas.

Close friends gathered at the Lawrence home to remember Gorme, 84, and offer condolences to Steve.

They got married Dec. 29, 1957, at the El Rancho, where she made her Las Vegas debut two years earlier as the opening act for Joe E. Lewis.

With so many Las Vegas friends and memories, they moved from Beverly Hills in the 1990s to Augusta Drive inside Las Vegas Country Club.

“What Frank Sinatra was to so many male vocalists, Eydie was to female vocalists,” close friend and local entertainer Dennis Bono said.

“We’re devastated,” said Bono. He and his wife, Lorraine, former lieutenant governor, have lived next door to Steve and Eydie since 2006.

“She was like a sister to Lorraine,” Bono said.

“She was the smartest, strongest, most talented, hysterically funny woman I’ve ever met,” he added.

When back problems cut short her stage career, she’d email jokes to Bono for his syndicated weekly radio show.

“She was a tough, tough broad with a tender heart,” he said. “Friends will know I mean that with nothing but endearment and love.”

When Bono surprised his wife with a Yorkshire Terrier for her latest birthday, Gorme sent a gift to the pup named Jilly, after Frank Sinatra’s righthand man, Jilly Rizzo, Bono’s manager.

Steve and Eydie opened for Sinatra for years; Bono was a close friend of Frank’s. The gift was an engraved dog tag from Tiffany’s: “To Jilly From Eydie.”

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Gorme’s wit was equal to her singing ability.

“She got up on stage with the Rat Pack and could top any of their jokes,” the friend said.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

A collaboration of The Who and the Fremont Street Experience is in the works. Roger Daltrey will be on the Third Street stage at 4 p.m. Monday to receive a check from FSE President Jeff Victor for the Teen Cancer America charity. Daltrey and bandmate Pete Townshend are raising money for a teen cancer wing in an Irvine, Calif., hospital. ...

More than two dozen local celebrities, entertainers and local personalities are showing up today to support “Out of the Gutters,” a bowling benefit at Sam’s Town for the Nevada SPCA. A noon red carpet will be followed by bowling. ...

One of the best signs that a restaurant is taking off is when the place fills up at midnight with off-shift local chefs. It happened at Chada Thai & Wine and that put them on Bon Appetit’s radar. Last week, Bon Appetit ranked Chada Thai No. 11 among Bon Appetit’s 50 best new restaurant of 2013.

SIGHTINGS

Roger Clemens, having lunch at the Country Club (Wynn) on Saturday. ... Actor Ryan Phillippe, with his children, Ava and Deacon, and girlfriend Paulina Slagter, at “Love” (Mirage) on Thursday. They dined at Tao (Venetian). ... Members of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” filming at the Alien Research Center near Crystal Springs on Thursday. The group included Khloe Kardashian, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Brody Jenner and Bruce Jenner. Kendall posted an Instagram photo that said they were in a “secret location” and “we’re about to go alien hunting.” ... Mike Tyson and his wife, Kiki, at Boyz II Men (Mirage) on Friday.

THE PUNCH LINE

“The third-largest lottery drawing in the U.S. took place last night, a Powerball jackpot worth $448 million. The jackpot will be split between three winners. I’m happy for whoever they are, as long as their names are not Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, or Kris.” — Jimmy Kimmel

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.