Tony and Emmy-winning music director and conductor Elliot Lawrence died at New York Presbyterian Hospital on July 2. The news of his death was confirmed by his family.
Mr. Lawrence was born Elliot Lawrence Broza February 14, 1925, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Stan Lee and Esther Broza, broadcast pioneers who created and produced the Horn and Hardart Children's Hour on WCAU radio and television.
To distinguish himself from his family, Mr. Lawrence dropped his Broza surname when he became the music director for WCAU's house band in 1945. The Elliot Lawrence Orchestra went on to a nationally broadcast show on CBS radio, as well as U.S. tours and recorded with Decca, Columbia, RCA, Fantasy, and Vic labels.
In 1953, the band traveled to the Soviet Union for a special broadcast of the Ed Sullivan Show where Mr. Lawrence met director Gower Champion, another guest on the show. Champion would later ask Mr. Lawrence to musical direct the Broadway production of Bye, Bye Birdie, for which he garnered a Tony nomination for Best Conductor And Musical Director. He won the Tony Award in that category the following year for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
The move to Broadway also coincided with Mr. Lawrence's move to composing and arranging music for television in film, including Network.
His work in television led to 10 Emmy Award wins and nominations for musical direction and composition on such shows as As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and the Kennedy Center Honors—which he served as musical director and conductor on for 15 years—as well as the Tony Awards telecast, again serving as music director and conductor from its first telecast in 1967 through his retirement in 2013.
He conducted television specials for artists such as Anita Baker, Jack Lemmon, Ann-Margret, Anne Bancroft, Joel Grey, Patti LaBelle, Comden and Green, Burt Bacharach, and Dionne Warwick, as well as eight televised Command Performances for Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Bush to benefit Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C.
He was preceded in death by his wife of over 30 years, Amy Bunim Lawrence. He is survived by their four children Alexandra, Danny, Jamie and Mia, daughter-in-law Margot Herrera, and five grandchildren: Oliver, Jack, Jacob, Carmen, and Rumi.