by Dick Kleiner
The demands on a gal singer are pretty strenuous, especially a good one. There are tours, personal appearances, engagements hither and thither. When she’s young and unattached all this is exciting. But when, like Peggy Lee, she has a home and a growing daughter, this side of the career loses much of its appeal.
“I may quit singing on the road entirely,” Peggy says. “My daughter wants me to stay home. She makes a long face whenever I leave. And a mother can stand just so many long faces.”
Daughter Nicki is now 11. She likes to have Mother around, and Mother likes to be around. It’s a fairly normal feeling.
“She’s such a sweet girl,” says Mother, her eyes lighting up. “She hates me to go on the road, but she’ll always do something sweet anyhow. Once she bought a book and put it in my suitcase, together with her favorite doll. When I unpacked and found them, I almost cried.”
“Another time, my canary, Jo-Jo, which I loved very much, died. I was heartbroken. Well, Nicki secretly saved up from her allowance and bought me a canary that was an exact duplicate of Jo-Jo. She bought a cage and bird food and a book on the care of canaries, too. Now, wasn’t that something?”
So you can see why Peggy Lee would like to stay home. Fortunately, she’s reached the position where she can forego the road and still make out. Her records, her movies, her TV appearances would keep her in bird seed a long time.
And, of course, Peggy Lee is an accomplished songwriter. Her two biggest hits were “It’s a Good Day” and “Mañana.” There are nice little royalties coming in from those, and, as Peggy says, “Every little royalty helps.”
She started writing as a youthful poet – still does write poems – and that led to lyrics. She talks as though she wishes she could stick to poetry entirely, although there’s still a smoldering desire to do a Broadway play.
“I’ve tried to break away and do a play so often,” she says, “but there’s always something coming up. I’d do a good play, whether or not there was any music in it. I’m going to try some summer stock company.”
Unless something comes up, that is.