Features

Peggy Lee

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By: Joel Vig

March 16, 2024: For the rest of the world, March 8, 2024, was International Women’s Day.  But Palm Springs, California was celebrating one particular woman and pulling out all the stops.  That woman was the late legendary artist Miss Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 31, 2002.) Born Norma Deloris Engstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, the popular singer, songwriter, composer, and actress would eventually scale the heights in every area of show business. 

Wink Martindale, Holly Foster-Wells, Palm Springs Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein, Michael Feinstein. Scott Nevins and Behind them in pink T-shirts the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus.

PEGGY LEE DAY CELEBRATED WITH UNVEILING OF  PALM SPRINGS STAR.

By: Joel Vig

March 16, 2024: For the rest of the world, March 8, 2024, was International Women’s Day.  But Palm Springs, California was celebrating one particular woman and pulling out all the stops.  That woman was the late legendary artist Miss Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 – January 31, 2002.) Born Norma Deloris Engstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, the popular singer, songwriter, composer, and actress would eventually scale the heights in every area of show business. 

Scott Nevins in front with Holly Foster-Wells, Chuck Sweeney as Peggy Lee, Michael Orland-pianist and Debby Boone-vocalist.

Given her name change by legendary radio broadcaster Ken Kennedy at WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota, Peggy Lee would go on to a remarkable 7 decade career in movies, television, showrooms, and making records. Called by iconic singer Tony Bennett  ” the female Frank Sinatra,” Peggy Lee was honored in her lifetime with scores of awards including an Academy Award nomination, 13 Grammy Award nominations, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from NARAS, ASCAP, and the Society Of Singers.  In 1960, Peggy Lee was honored with a Star in the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.  The March 8th, 2024 Star ceremony honoring Peggy Lee in Palm Springs, CA, was a perfect bookend to the Hollywood Star awarded more than 60 years earlier.

Scott Nevins, Holly Foster-Wells, and Joel Vig.

Peggy Lee’s grand daughter, Holly Foster-Wells, President of Peggy Lee Associates LLC., and Scott Nevins, award winning TV host and community advocate, were joined by Palm Springs Chamber Of Commerce CEO, Nona Watson, Palm Springs Mayor, Jeffrey Bernstein, Michael Feinstein,  and Wink Martindale,  toasting Peggy Lee for her remarkable life and work.  Scott Nevins told the history of a gig early in Peggy Lee’s career at a Palm Springs club called the Doll House, where the young girl singer developed her soft as silk vocal style that became her trademark.  The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus, in pink T-shirts decorated with a beautiful graphic portrait of Peggy Lee by artist Alejandro Magollo, sang one of Peggy Lee’s most memorable hits, “It’s A Good Day,” which Peggy not only recorded but also wrote.  Michael Feinstein, the maven of the American Popular Songbook, saluted Peggy Lee’s lasting writing and performing contributions to American music. Wink Martindale spoke of Peggy Lee’s rural birthplace in South Dakota which had the audience calling out the correction “North Dakota.”   Legendary singers Nancy Sinatra and Debby Boone were part of the standing room only audience at 100 South Palm Canyon Drive.  I had toured with Debby Boone across North America and Japan several decades ago with Debby playing Maria in “THE SOUND OF MUSIC”  and Debby still looks youthful enough to play the role again.  

Holly Foster-Wells and Nancy Sinatra.

After the tributes and speeches, Palm Springs Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein read a proclamation before the covering of Star number 467 in the Palm Springs Walk Of Stars was revealed. As the crowd stood and cheered, Mayor Bernstein declared that March 8th, 2024, would be known officially as Peggy Lee Day.  As the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus had belted out early in the ceremony, “It was a good day, from morning til night!”

Photo credit: courtesy Peggy Lee Associates

Mayor Jeffrey Bernstein, Holly Foster-Wells and Michael Feinstein.
Artwork by: Alejandro Mogollo Díez
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