Comedian/Broadway Composer Eddie Lawrence Dies at 95
The New York Times reports that comedian Eddie Lawrence passed away in Manhattan on Tuesday, March 25th at the age of 95. Lawrence was best known for his "Old Philosopher" records as well as the principal voice and writer for Paramount cartoons from 1961-1965.
Lawrence lent his voice to characters in cartoon shorts, including Percy and Ralph (later renamed Swifty and Shorty) The duo appeared in over a dozen Paramount theatrical cartoon shorts in 1964 and 1965.
His well-known comedic routine 'The Old Philosopher' debuted in 1956 as a three-minute single. It quickly climbed into the Top 40 of the Billboard charts. Throughout his career, the bit provided an avenue for Mr. Lawrence to appear in comic sketches, commercials and television appearances. He became a regular guest on both "The Steve Allen Show" and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."
Early in his career, he appeared off-Broadway in "The Threepenny Opera" and had a principle role on Broadway as a bookie in "Bells Are Ringing." In 1965, he composed the lyrics for the pop standard, "I'll Never Go There Anymore," which composer Stephen Sondheim later cited among the songs he wished he had written.
In 1965 he wrote the book and music to "Kelly," based on the story of Steve Brodie, who supposedly survived jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1886. The show unfortunately became the biggest flop in Broadway history at the time, opening on Feb. 6th, and closing just one day later.
However, in recent years, a concert version of "Kelly," as originally written, was produced by the York Theater Company, with Brian d'Arcy James in the lead role.
The talented artist continued to perform stand up well into his 80s. His cartoons were rerun on Nickelodeon in the 1990s.