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Subject: ARCHIVE: May 26, 1920 ~It was a century ago, the late great Peggy Lee, whose astonishing vocal career spanning six decades selling millions of records, earning her 12 Grammy nominations with a win in 1969, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, was born 100 years ago today! ...
Known professionally as Peggy Lee, was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer, and actress, over a career spanning six decades. From her beginning as a vocalist on local radio to singing with Benny Goodman's big band, Lee created a sophisticated persona, writing music for films, acting, and recording conceptual record albums combining poetry and music.
Early life ...
Lee was born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota on May 26, 1920, the seventh of the eight children of Selma Amelia (née Anderson) Egstrom and Marvin Olof Egstrom, a station agent for the Midland Continental Railroad. She and her family were Lutherans. Her father was Swedish-American and her mother was Norwegian-American. After her mother died when Lee was four, her father married Minnie Schaumberg Wiese.
...Lee first sang professionally over KOVC radio in Valley City, North Dakota. She later had her own series on a radio show sponsored by a local restaurant that paid her salary in food. Both during and after her high school years, Lee sang for small sums on local radio stations. Radio personality Ken Kennedy, of WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota (the most widely heard station in North Dakota), changed her name to Peggy Lee. Lee left home and traveled to Los Angeles at the age of 17.
She returned to North Dakota for a tonsillectomy, and was later noticed by hotel owner Frank Bering while working at the Doll House in Palm Springs, California. It was here that she developed her trademark sultry purr, having decided to compete with the noisy crowd with subtlety rather than volume. Bering offered her a gig at The Buttery Room, a nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel East in Chicago. There, she was noticed by bandleader Benny Goodman. According to Lee, "Benny's then-fiancée, Lady Alice Duckworth, came into The Buttery, and she was very impressed. So the next evening she brought Benny in, because they were looking for a replacement for Helen Forrest. And although I didn't know, I was it. He was looking at me strangely, I thought, but it was just his preoccupied way of looking. I thought that he didn't like me at first, but it just was that he was preoccupied with what he was hearing." She joined his band in 1941 and stayed for two years.
In March 1943 Lee married Dave Barbour, a guitarist in Goodman's band. Lee said, "David joined Benny's band and there was a ruling that no one should fraternize with the girl singer. But I fell in love with David the first time I heard him play, and so I married him. Benny then fired David, so I quit, too. Benny and I made up, although David didn't play with him anymore. Benny stuck to his rule. I think that's not too bad a rule, but you can't help falling in love with somebody."
"...when she left the band that spring , her intention was to quit the footlights altogether and become Mrs. Barbour, fulltime housewife. It's to Mr. Barbour's credit that he refused to let his wife's singing and composing talent lay dormant for too long. "I fell in love with David Barbour," she recalled. "But 'Why Don't You Do Right' was such a giant hit that I kept getting offers and kept turning them down. And at that time it was a lot of money. But it really didn't matter to me at all. I was very happy. All I wanted was to have a family and cling to the children [daughter Nicki]. Well, they kept talking to me and finally David joined them and said 'You really have too much talent to stay at home and someday you might regret it.'"
...She drifted back to songwriting and occasional recording sessions for the Capitol Records in 1947, for whom she recorded a long string of hits, many of them with lyrics and music by Lee and Barbour, including "I Don't Know Enough About You" in 1946 and then "Golden Earings" and "It's a Good Day" in 1947. Her recording of "Golden Earrings", the title song of a 1947 movie, was a hit throughout 1947-1948. With the release of the U.S, No. 1-selling record of 1948, "Mañana", her "retirement" was over. In 1948, Lee's work was part of Capitol's library of electrical transcriptions for radio stations. An ad for Capitol Transcriptions in a trade magazine noted that the transcriptions included "special voice introductions by Peggy."
...In 1948 Lee joined vocalists Perry Como and Jo Stafford as a host of the NBC Radio musical program The Chesterfield Supper Club.
She was a regular on The Jimmy Durante Show and appeared frequently on Bing Crosby's radio shows during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
...In 1957, she recorded a popular version of "Fever" by Little Willie John, written by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport,
to which she added her uncopyrighted lyrics ("Romeo loved Juliet", "Captain Smith and Pocahontas").
Acting career ...
In 1952, Lee starred opposite Danny Thomas in The Jazz Singer (1952), a remake of the Al Jolson film, The Jazz Singer (1927). She played an alcoholic blues singer in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She provided speaking and singing voices for several characters in the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp (1955), playing the human "Darling", the dog "Peg", and the two Siamese cats, "Si and Am". In 1957, she guest starred on the short-lived variety program The Guy Mitchell Show.
Personal life ...
Lee was married four times: to guitarist and composer Dave Barbour (1943–1951).
The union produced her only child at age 23, a daughter Nicki Lee Foster on November 11, 1943. ...
Actor Brad Dexter (1953) ...
Actor Dewey Martin (1956–1958) ...
Percussionist Jack Del Rio (1964–1965) ...
...All the marriages ended in divorce.
Lee continued to perform into the 1990s, sometimes confined to a wheelchair. After years of poor health, she died of complications from diabetes and a heart attack on January 21, 2002,
at the age of 81. She was cremated and her ashes were buried beside a reflection pool site under a benched monument in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. ...
Her daughter Nicki died 13 years after her, on November 14, 2014. ...
Carnegie Hall tribute ...
In 2003, "There'll Be Another Spring: A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee" was held at Carnegie Hall. Produced by recording artist Richard Barone, the sold-out event included performances by Cy Coleman, Debbie Harry, Nancy Sinatra, Rita Moreno, Marian McPartland, Chris Connor, Petula Clark, Maria Muldaur, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Quincy Jones, Shirley Horn, and others. In 2004 Barone brought the event to a sold-out Hollywood Bowl, and then to Chicago's Ravinia Festival, with expanded casts including Maureen McGovern, Jack Jones and Bea Arthur. The Carnegie Hall concert was broadcast on NPR's JazzSet.
Awards and honors ...
Lee was nominated for twelve Grammy Awards, winning Best Contemporary Vocal Performance for
her 1969 hit "Is That All There Is?" In 1995 she was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCRZZC-DH7M
She received the Rough Rider Award from the state of North Dakota, the Pied Piper Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the Presidents Award from the Songwriters Guild of America, the Ella Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Singers, and the Living Legacy Award from the Women's International Center. In 1999 she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
...Sadly, Peggy Lee was among hundreds of artists whose studio masters were destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.