Peggy Lee

Monday, 11 April 2011

Peggy Lee Biography

Date of Birth
26 May 1920, Jamestown, North Dakota, USA

Date of Death
21 January 2002, Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, USA (heart attack)

Birth Name
Norma Delores Egstrom

5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Biography
Peggy Lee was Born Norma Dolores Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, on May 26, 1920. At age four her mother died. Peggy's father, a railroad station agent, remarried but later left home, leaving Peggy's care entrusted to a stepmother who physically abused her. Peggy later memorialized this in the calypso number "One Beating a Day", one of 22 songs she co-wrote for the autobiographical musical "Peg", in which she made her Broadway debut in 1983 at the age of 62. As a youngster Peggy worked as a milkmaid, later turning to singing for money in her teens. While singing on a local radio station in Fargo, the program director there suggested she change her name to Peggy Lee. Peggy's big break came when Benny Goodman hired her to sing with his band after hearing her perform. Peggy shot to stardom when she and Goodman cut the hit record "Why Don't You Do Right?" and went out on her own to record such classics as "Fever", "Lover", "Golden Earrings", "Big Spender" and "Is That All There Is?" - the latter winning her a Grammy Award in 1969. Peggy's vocal style provided a distinctive imprint to countless swing tunes, ballads and big band numbers. She was considered the type of performer equally capable of interpreting a song as uniquely as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith. Her 1989 album, "Peggy Sings the Blues", was a Grammy Award nominee. Peggy was a prolific songwriter and arranger and her 1990 "The Peggy Lee Songbook" contained four songs she wrote with guitarist John Chiodini. Peggy also wrote for jazz greats Duke Ellington, who called her "The Queen", and Johnny Mercer, and composer Quincy Jones. Also in 1990 Peggy was awarded the coveted Pied Piper Award presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). She made her mark in Hollywood as an actress, winning an Academy Award nomination for her role as the hard-drinking singer in the jazz saga, Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) and composed songs for the 1955 Walt Disney animated classic Lady and the Tramp (1955). The animated film featured a character named Peg, a broken-down old showgirl of a dog, whose provocative walk was based on the stage-prowl of Peggy Lee. Later she sued Disney and won a landmark legal judgment for a portion of the profits from the videocassette sale of the film. Peggy's private life was racked by physical ailments, a near-fatal fall in 1976, diabetes and a stroke in 1998. She was married four times, all ending in divorce. She and first husband, guitarist Dave Barbour, had a daughter, Nicki, her only child. Peggy and Dave were on the verge of a reconciliation in 1965, but he died of a heart attack before the couple got back together. Peggy has left a vast legend of music that is constantly finding new generations of fans.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Kelly E.F. Wiebe (

Mini Biography
Born Norma Dolores Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, sultry song stylist Peggy Lee was the product of a troubled, abusive childhood, who used singing as an escape. She found work on a radio station as a teenager in Fargo and quickly changed her name to Peggy Lee. An early move to Hollywood at age 17 proved disappointing, returning north to her radio job within a short time. A Chicago nightclub appearance led to her replacing vocalist Helen Forrest with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1941, where she soon earned star status for such songs as "Blues in the Night", "The Way You Look Tonight", and, her signature song, "Why Don't You Do Right?". She struck out on her own two years later and earned more hit records with "It's a Good Day" and "Manana", which she wrote.

An elegant, intimate performer with a minimalist style, her recording and supper club fame eventually led to movie offers, notably opposite Danny Thomas in a remake of The Jazz Singer (1952). Her peak, however, came with her vibrant, Oscar-nominated performance as a singer who battles the bottle in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). She also provided singing and speaking voices along with lyrics for Disney's Lady and the Tramp (1955) in the same year. But music was her first love and she continued on the road, crossing over occasionally from the easy jazz to pop field with such monster hits as "Fever" in 1958 and the Grammy-winning "Is That All There Is?" in 1969. In 1983, she went to Broadway in an autobiographical production called "Peg". It was one of the few projects in her life that was not a success. Her later years were dogged by ill health and lawsuits, winning $2.3 million in 1991 against Disney to recoup royalties from videocassette sales of "Lady and the Tramp" and, just a week before her death, earning a preliminary approval of $4.75 million in a class lawsuit (she was the lead plaintiff of a group of Decca recording artists) for royalties against Universal Music Group. Semi-confined to a wheelchair since the 80s due to circulation problems and accidental falls, she valiantly continued performing until suffering a stroke in 1998. She died of a heart attack three years later. "Miss Peggy Lee", as she was always introduced, was a class act all the way and, in talent, is often deemed a smooth, self-contained combination of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh /

Jack Del Rio (22 February 1964 - 1965) (divorced)
Dewey Martin (25 April 1956 - 1959) (divorced)
Brad Dexter (4 January 1953 - 3 November 1953) (divorced)
Dave Barbour (8 March 1943 - 16 May 1951) (divorced) 1 child

Suffered stroke. [27 October 1998]
Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1987.
Has one daughter, Nicki Lee Foster (born 1944), from her marriage to late guitarist Dave Barbour.
A diabetic, Lee was often troubled by weight and glandular problems. In 1961, she was felled by double pneumonia and in 1976, she had a near-fatal fall in a New York hotel. She was again seriously injured in another fall in Las Vegas in 1987. In early 1985, she underwent four angioplasties - balloon surgery to open clogged arteries - and resumed her singing tour. While appearing in New Orleans in October 1985, she underwent double-bypass heart surgery. In 1998, she suffered a stroke which impaired her speech, requiring therapy to recover.
Her work on the 1955 Disney film, Lady and the Tramp (1955) led to a landmark legal judgment 36 years later when a California court awarded her $2.3 million after she sued for a portion of the profits from the videocassette sale of the movie. The case hinged on a clause in her pre-video-era contract barring the sale of "transcriptions" of the movie without her approval.
She decided to become a singer at age 14, when she earned 50 cents a night at gigs for local PTAs. A few years later she traveled to Fargo where she sang on a local radio station. The WDAY program director suggested a name change, and she became Peggy Lee.
Has a rose named after her. The "Peggy Lee" rose is pink with a touch of peach.
Voiced four different characters in Lady and the Tramp (1955): Darling, Peg, and both the Siamese cats.
Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1992.
In addition to her accomplishments as a singer, she was a very fine songwriter, with several hit songs to her credit, many of them written in collaboration with her first husband, Dave Barbour. Her song writing credits include: "It's a Good Day," "Manana," "I Don't Know Enough About You" (all with Barbour), "Bella Notte," "Peace on Earth" (both with Sonny Burke), "Don't Forget to Feed the Reindeer," and "So, What's New?" (with John Pisano and Ervin "Bud" Coleman).
Ranked #93 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Rock N Roll
At the time of her death, she was leading a potentially groundbreaking class-action lawsuit vs. Universal Music, a unit of Vivendi Universal. In early January 2002, the music giant agreed to pay $4.75 million in back royalties to as many as 300 performers to settle the suit.
She had pneumonia when she gave birth to her daughter and almost died.
She became engaged to her ex-husband David Barbour, who divorced her because he felt his drinking was not good for his daughter, four days before he died. He claimed he had been sober thirteen years by then and was ready to re-marry her.
Is portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in Infamous (2006)
The original line-up on her 1958 smash hit "Fever" comprised: Jack Mondragon (double bass), Shelly Manne (drums) and Howard A. Roberts (electric guitar). It was Peggy Lee's idea to eliminate Roberts' guitar, entirely, and have him provide the funky finger-snapping instead. Manne used his hands and fingers (rather than drumsticks) to tap his snare drum and tom-tom to the accompaniment of his bass drum.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999.
Peggy Lee's final words, "Virgina doesn't come in till Tuesday." Virgina Bernard was her maid for many years.
Is the namesake of the "Margarita" cocktail. In 1948 Santos Cruz, a bartender at the famed Texas nightclub the Balinese Room, mixed up a new drink especially for her. He named it for the Spanish version of "Margaret" which is the formal version of "Peggy".
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6319 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Recipient of the North Dakota Roughrider Award.

Personal Quotes
I loved acting, but my agents never brought me scripts. I was worth a lot more to them on the road.
"Mamie Eisenhower was our First Lady at the time, and she always wore bangs. The little dog has bangs and her name in the script was Mamie, so Walt [Disney] was afraid someone might think we were being a little less than polite about the First Lady. That's why I have the honor of having the character named after me." - referring to her animated doggie character "Peg" in Lady and the Tramp (1955).
I sang before I could talk.
On personal power: Some of us just go along...until that marvelous day people stop intimidating us -- or should I say we refuse to let them intimidate us?
 Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee: Fever!


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