An award-winning singer and songwriter.
Peggy Lee’s 6-decade musical career included more than 650 recorded songs and 60 albums. In 1995, she was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, she had a tough childhood – losing her mother at the age of four and staying with her alcoholic father and a stepmother. She began performing when she was 14 years old, and when her band was a guest at a local radio station, a program director advised her to change her name, saying “you look like a Peggy”.
She moved to perform in Chicago, where her big breakthrough came in 1941 – with an invitation from the jazz bandleader Benny Goodman to join his orchestra as a vocalist.
Lee met her first husband in the band, and the two moved to Los Angeles, where she started a solo recording career full of popular hits.
Her version of “Fever” became her signature-song, capturing her playful, charismatic and sexy persona.
In her forties, she became more active as a lyricist and wrote more than 100 songs.
She also did some acting, with an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role as a troubled jazz singer in the film “Pete Kelly’s Blues”.
“She knows what an exalted thing it is to be alive” – jazz singer Sylvia Syms about Peggy Lee.
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She wrote many of the songs for the Disney cartoon feature “Lady and the Tramp”. When it was released on video in the 1980s, she filed a lawsuit against Disney for royalties and won millions.
- The famous Muppet Miss Piggy was inspired by Peggy Lee, and at first was called Miss Piggy Lee.
- She also explored her talents for painting, writing poetry, and fabric design.
- She was married four times – to two actors and two musicians – and had one daughter.
- Her fans included Albert Einstein and Aldous Huxley.