QW, September 6, 1992

Is That All There Is to an Interview?
Nora Burns Gets Fever from Peggy Lee

by Nora Burns

After more calls to Peggy Leeís press agent Terrence than 550-TOOL gets on a Saturday night, I found the legendary chanteuse in her hotel room at the Hilton, home of Club 53, where she performed all last month to an eclectic group of worshipers, including elderly singalong types who drink green cocktails and stick the umbrellas in their hair, lots of those handsome single men with stars in their eyes and, of course, Liza Minnelli. The show was "like heroin," as one observer noted. I spoke with the true heroine later.

Nora Burns: Liza was at your show last night; that was exciting.

Peggy Lee: Itís been so interesting. Last night with Liza, my suite was so crowded, I donít know who they all were. The interpreter for the Dali Lama was there. I met the Dali Lama when I was chairman of the Dooley Foundation. He gave me my first little Lhasa Apso.

NB: Who else has been to see you?

PL: Al Pacino was there, and Madonna. I met Madonna Ė she was absolutely charming and looked so pretty. She sent me some wonderful roses. I love roses. Iím a huge fan of Al Pacino and I guess heís a fan of mine, so he said.

NB: Of course, youíre legendary.

PL: Well, thank you.

NB: Who were your favorite people to work with?

PL: Victor Young, Johnny Mandel and Sonny Burke when we worked on the score for Lady and the Tramp. (Miss Lee is currently suing Disney for royalties from that movie.)

NB: How does Sonny feel about your court case with Disney?

PL: Heís deceased.

NB: Oops! Iím sorry.

PL: He died ten years ago but the court case has been going on for over four years.

NB: I love the update on the Disney case that you do at all of your shows.

PL: You like that? (Mischievous giggle.) I hope it makes them squirm a little. Michael Eisnerís yearly salary is $50 million, as is Jeffrey Katzenbergís, and I donít think that they should miss $2 or $3 million for someone who had a contract and worked for it.

NB: Well, it would hardly be the same movie without you.

PL: I wish youíd put that in print. I think the chemistry that was working in that picture was what made it such a success.

NB: Your show is so romantic. I noticed a lot of snuggly couples, a lot of gay couples. You have a huge gay following.

PL: Gay men have good taste. I think theyíre a lot more appreciative.

NB: You say in your autobiography that you lost a close friend to AIDS.

PL: Iíve lost quite a few friends to AIDS. Itís the saddest thing... Thereís no way to complete that sentence. I did one of the first AIDS benefits in í82 or í83. We raised $350,000. I contribute to a lot of charities and auctions. Since Iíve broken so many bones and canít really walk, Iíve donated most of my shoes, Charles Jourdain four-inch heels, to AIDS auctions.

NB: Would you change anything if you could live your life over?

PL: Iíve made hundreds of mistakes, but Iím happy with my life, honey.

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