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Broadway's Jerry Herman recalls day Grammy-winning superstar Eydie Gorme walked into his life

  • Below: Watch Eydie Gorme sing If He Walked Into My Life

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Mame composer-lyricist Jerry Herman recalls the day singing superstar Eydie Gorme walked into his life, clutching her just-won 1967 Grammy for Best Female Vocal Performance.

“She won the Grammy and came to me. I was in the hospital with hepatitis and she came with the Grammy and, oh boy, what a celebration and what a nice relationship we always had because of it,” Herman says, mourning his longtime friend who died Saturday in Las Vegas six days before her 85th birthday.

Herman, who already had one monster hit still running on Broadway (Hello, Dolly!), says that when Angela Lansbury and Mame opened in May 1966, someone at his publishing company suggested Gorme record the show’s “11 o’clock number,” If He Walked Into My Life.

“It was wonderful timing for her. Wonderful timing for the show. It was one of those coming together of different elements,” says Herman, 82, of Miami Beach. “Just a perfect orchestration (by Don Costa) for that song and for Eydie. It all just exploded. I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. I couldn't speak. I said, ‘My God, this is going to be a classic record and it sure was.’”

Gorme’s recording was her most popular Billboard easy-listening track and scored her a second Grammy. (Her first came in 1960 shared with husband singer Steve Lawrence for the album, We Got Us.)

Herman says he knew Gorme’s If He Walked Into My Life was a huge hit the first time a Broadway audience loudly applauded the melody during the Mame overture.

Another sign came a few months later while he vacationed in New York's gay mecca, Fire Island.

“I remember that summer I could not take a walk to that harbor without hearing Eydie’s record on a jukebox. It was that wonderful crossover moment where it all came together and, what a feeling it was.”

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