Born Linda Gertz in New York. Laurie was a high school student in Brooklyn when her ability to create trick voices caught the attention of indie label Glory Records, which rightfully saw in her potential for a hit novelty record. “Ambrose #5,” released in 1958, was a sensation. Laurie wrote the song herself, and speaks the parts of both a masculine and a feminine character who are walking through a dark subway tunnel. The record reached #58 on the Billboard Hot 100; its success helped to land her a spot on on rock and roll package shows—including Alan Freed’s stage shows at the Brooklyn Paramount and Lee Gordon’s “Big Show” tours in Australia—as well as television show appearances.
Laurie found the travel strenuous and eventually settled back in New York. In the sixties, Laurie co-owned a boutique dress shop in Manhattan, but she continued to perform music on her own terms. She was a regular at Trude Heller’s club in the West Village, and she also continued to record occasionally. Her records from the early sixties include “Stay at Home Sue”—an answer song to Dion’s “Runaround Sue”—and an “Ambrose” sequel entitled “Forever Ambrose.”
Laurie continued to work as a songwriter into the seventies and eighties, including some work in the television industry. Her biggest hit from this period was “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress),” which she wrote and recorded herself for MCA Records in 1973. Her recording of the song did not gain much notice, but Helen Reddy’s cover shot to #1 on the Australian charts later that year.
Later in life, Laurie turned her attention to charitable and nonprofit work. Laurie worked with the Patricia Henley Foundation’s Theatre of Life for Children, of which she was executive director. In addition to providing organizational leadership, she worked directly with student actors.
“Ambrose (Part V)” / “Ooh, What a Lover!” Glory 45-290 (1959).
“All Winter Long” / “Stay With Me.” Andie 5015 (1959).
“Prince Charming” / “Soupin’ Up Your Motor.” Rust 5022 (1960).
“Stay at Home Sue” / “Lazy Love.” Rust 5042 (1961).
“Abrose and Gal both Linda Laurie,” Billboard, 2 February 1959, 14.
Sheila McFarlane, “Linda Laurie’s Ways with Boys,” Australian Women’s Weekly, 26 August 1959, 39.
Cindy Hughes, “Ambrose Keeps Walkin’,” Brooklyn World-Telegram, 10 September 1965.
Felicia M. Tomasko, “A Tribute to the Musical, Presented by the Patricia Henley Foundation Theatre of Life for Children,” Santa Barbara Independent, 23 August 2007 (https://www.independent.com/news/2007/aug/23/em-tribute-musicalem/).