“When I first played New York,” Miss Peggy, age 72, told me, “It was 1941 or 42. I worked the Paramount. We had an Alan Ladd, picture, I think. I don’t remember. I do remember I was just a girl singer on the bill. Benny Goodman was headlining. And the Extra Added Attraction was a kid named Frank Sinatra
“That was when those little girls were swooning by the thousands. I couldn’t understand how they’d get there and line up around the block so early in the morning. First show was 9 a.m. We did five to eight a day. When we just did five we thought we were laying off!
“I’d never worked such a huge place before. Thousands of seats. And when that big blinding spotlight hit me first time I came out on stage, I thought it was a train. It was like an engine coming straight at me.
“I had two loyal fans. Real tough guys from Brooklyn. One eventually became my road manager, and he died just recently. Anyway, they bought me paper drapes and a paper bedspread to fix up my little dressing room. And they gave me a party to celebrate. The food came from Walgreen’s drugstore. I got sick from the liverwurst sandwich.”
And then the gigs got classier for Miss Peggy Lee. “I worked the Waldorf, the Copa, plus Basin Street East and La Vie En Rose, which are now closed. La Vie was owned by a fellow named Monte Proser, who’d always say to me, ‘Ey, c’mon inta my joint.’
“But I tell you, after I played them, they weren’t joints anymore.”
Peggy Lee, girl singer. Still going strong 50 years later.
New York Post, July 30, 1992
I’m full of Peggy Lee-isms. Like when she was working with Benny Goodman at the Paramount 50 years ago. Benny was careful with the penny. Some say chintzy. Me, I’m not saying it. Me, I don’t know. I only know what some say. So some say there was this day he sent his bandboy, Popsy Randolph, out for soft drinks, and everyone had to chip in and pay for his or her own. The sodas were 15 cents in those days. Peg only wanted a little sip. She drank half. Popsy finished the other half. Popsy then said to Benny: “She only owes you eight cents.”