by Earl Wilson
The get-well telegrams and phone calls to Peggy Lee had come from such friends as Frank Sinatra and Doris Duke.
There was a note of alarm in them – for Peggy was under an oxygen tent, fighting pneumonia, at Polyclinic Hospital.
Her daugher, Nicki Barbour, just 18, had flown in from Beverly Hills, upon learning of the seriousness of the illness.
At Basin Street East, Phoebe Ostrow, one of the women on the staff, was crying.
“Peggy’s more than an entertainer to us here,” Mrs. Ostrow explained. “She’s like one of the family. And she’s very, very ill.”
Dr. Daniel A. Mulvihill, a chest specialist, had been called.
That’s the way it was Thanksgiving eve with Peggy Lee – but Thanksgiving was a good day for Peggy, and today the news was bright and optimistic about the singer whose records are heard al over the world.
“She is improved,” Polyclinic said today. “Her condition is not serious.”
“She’s out of the wood,” one of her friends exclaimed at Basin Street East. “She no longer needs the oxygen tent.”
Much of Peggy Lee’s Thanksgiving was spent under sedation. And her Thanksgiving dinner consisted largely of a couple of nibbles at some chocolate turkeys brought her by her daughter and Mrs. Ostrow.
A turkey and dressing had been brought from a Broadway restaurant. But Peggy smiled weakly and had the special nurses send it off to patients in the wards.
Peggy had evidently been ill for a couple of weeks but had refused to give in and kept singing to great crowds at Basin Street East.
And she was taxing herself doing benefit performances.
“Why can’t they X-ray me in the hotel room?” she demanded when doctors urged her to go to a hospital. Then: “But I’ve got to appear at an Adlai Stevenson luncheon.
“Now make sure Governor Stevenson gets a note explaining why I’m not present,” Peggy said as she finally gave in.
Peggy probably doesn’t know it, but she’s not likely to be able to do the Ed Sullivan show December 10.
“I wish somebody besides me will tell her,” Moe Lewis, one of the owners of the cafe, said last night. “She’s not gonna like it!”
Peggy was able to joke about her illness today. “It was some drug that pulled me out,” she said. “It’s a powerful drug – you have to be healthy to take it!”