From the time they met on The Steve Allen Show, the two seldom appeared apart, and last year they celebrated their fortieth anniversary as a team. If they haven't gone out of style, it's because they've always been beyond style. "Lawrence belongs to an all but vanished breed," Walter Kerr wrote in The New York Times back in 1968, even as he panned Golden Rainbow, the pair's musical version of the Sinatra film A Hole in the Head. Critics may not have been swayed as they were by Steve's earlier musical, What Makes Sammy Run?, but nearly everyone else has been.
"People love Steve and Eydie," says David Bucksner, a former Kansas City publicist who worked with them several times. "They were always convivial and gregarious. And Eydie was so much cooler than Steve." That coolness was solidified with the late-'90s release of Lounge-a-Palooza, which includes their sincere take on Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun."
"When I think of Steve and Eydie, it's on The Carol Burnett Show," says Kansas City Symphony associate conductor Tim Hankewich. He won't know until the morning of the first show what the orchestra will play for the headliners but says "they've seen our proposed repertoire, so they know that we'll complement their set."
Hankewich says audiences should expect "pieces from the era of Steve and Eydie," including Jimmy Dorsey's "Oodles of Noodles," along with some Gershwin, some Ellington, a Sondheim medley and John Williams' score from The Cowboys.
Steve and Eydie's set is sure to include such Broadway and pop standards as "If He Walked Into My Life," which earned Eydie a Grammy. But it's their tuxes, gowns and patented self-deprecation that keep the pair interesting. As Lawrence told Vanity Fair, "I think the reason Eydie and I have been together this long and been successful this long is because for our entire relationship we have never had an in-depth conversation."
But theirs has always been an affair of the heart, not the head.