On Monday one of the great icons of pop music died. Peggy Lee had thrilled several generations with her sultry style and one-of-a-kind interpretation of a gamut of music, from jazz to near-rock. Her daughter, Nicki Lee Foster, tells The New York Times that her mother died of a heart attack at her home in Los Angeles. She had suffered a stroke three years ago and had faded from many of our minds. Peggy Lee's final years were spent as an invalid. Lee sang with the legendary Benny Goodman's band, then became a golden girl of radio in the big band broadcast era. During her 60-year career she made over 700 single recordings and nearly 60 albums. She once told a reporter that, of them all, her favorite was her rendition of "The Man I Love." It was a classic Nelson Riddle arrangement, recorded in 1957 under the baton of Frank Sinatra. Her 1958 recording of "Fever" was an international hit. Not as well known is the fact that she had a hand in writing over 200 songs, in most cases providing the lyrics. Lee also wrote the theme music for the movies "Johnny Guitar" and "About Mrs. Leslie." In the early 1950s she had provided some of the music and sang on three soundtrack songs for "Lady and the Tramp," including the Siamese cats song, which she helped write. Disney paid her $3,500 for her work. She got no royalties. She had a brooding almost angry demeanor sometimes. She was sexy but never vulnerable. Peggy Lee was 81. After reading the rest of this column, sit in a dark corner, close your eyes and listen to Peggy Lee singing "Is That All There Is?"
JANET JACKSON TO SUSPEND TOURING
Claiming that international touring and performing were taking a physical toll on her, Janet Jackson has told the TV show "Extra" that she is going to suspend touring, at least for a while. The 35-year-old mega-star says that when she wraps up her current "All For You" tour next month, she will take a long-awaited vacation. Jackson says that she understands that her fans want to see her and she just can't let her entire crew go with little notice, so she's trying to make the transition to a more sedate life work for everyone involved. She reports that she's been reading several movie scripts submitted to her and would like to go back to acting. But, she adds, it will be a while before she gets back on the boards again.
CONNIE CHUNG JUMPS SHIP ... AGAIN
Gone are the days when network anchors were tied to a single network. Of course, during his long career even Lowell Thomas switched affiliations. Now comes word that anchorwoman Connie Chung has been snagged by CNN to do a prime-time news show. The network says the 55-year-old reporter will leave ABC to join the all-news network. She had reportedly also been courted by Fox News. This will be the third major network gig for Chung. At one time she shared the anchor desk with Dan Rather at CBS. Chung's arrival at CNN will allow that network, in the words of People online, to "patch up the vacancy left when ... Greta Van Susteren jumped ship to go to Fox." In recent years Chung's visibility at ABC had faded because she had been relegated to reporting assignments and newsmagazine formats. CNN is likely to put her front and center.
COLORFUL COLORADO GOVERNOR DIES
During his time in the governor's chair in Denver, John A. Love was one of Colorado's most active chief executives. Now, according to the Denver Post, Love has died. The immensely popular Love was elected to three two-year terms. His third election marked the first time that any Colorado governor had been elected more than twice. In spite of his conservative early years, while serving as governor he was a champion of land preservation and controls on land use in his state. In 1973 he went to Washington to work in the Nixon administration as national energy "czar," a job created because of the fuel shortage that year. After his stint in Washington he returned to Colorado and resumed his work as a lawyer. John A. Love was 86.
SURGEON BECOMES WEIGHT LOSS GURU
For most of his career Dr. Jim Mault was working to perfect the difficult surgical procedures required in heart-lung transplantation. Now he's turned his attentions to helping obese people diet. Mault says the key is understanding your metabolism and he's invented a gadget to do just that. Published reports indicate that Mault has perfected a cell phone-sized unit that will soon go into full production. The hand-held device was first introduced into small clinics for testing. Then it was accepted in hospitals and will soon get nationwide distribution. The unit, called the BodyGem, helps dieters calculate the number of calories they are burning based on activity and metabolic rate. Mault says that this country is facing a "fat crisis." He says he is seeing more and more obese patients. The problem is eclipsing smoking as the leading preventable disease in the country.
FREDDY FENDER TO GET TRANSPLANT
Legendary Tex-Mex singer Freddy Fender is about to undergo a kidney transplant. His publicist tells United Press International that the 64-year-old entertainer will receive a donor kidney from his 21-year-old daughter. Marla Garcia traveled to San Antonio from Florida earlier this week to make the donation. Surgery will take place before the week is over. Fender, whose real name is Baldemar Huerta, is a two-time Grammy winner. He is nominated in the current round of Grammys in the Best Latin Pop Album category for "La Music De Baldemar Huerta." The album, according to Fender, was put together as a tribute to his Hispanic roots and memories of his childhood in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. When asked if he'll be well enough to attend the Feb. 27 awards in Los Angeles, he told San Antonio media: "I'll be back at 100 percent by then, ready to take on all comers."
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 252
On Tuesday, I asked about the best job you ever had to leave, but didn't want to. Now, let's look at the flip side of the coin: "What is the worst job you ever had that you had to stick with and could not escape?" Put HORRIBLE in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 248 (MAIL)
Last week we wondered -- in light of all the e-mail going around -- if anyone ever went to the good old post office anymore. Here is a sampling of the replies: A surprising number of respondents noted that they still relied on the post office, mainly to do the things that most people don't do over the Internet -- pay bills. VOXEN, who is addicted to using eBay, says that trips to the postal window are essential to mail out the items sold on the on-line auction house. Tracy, on the other hand, only makes the trek every two to three months. She reports that she buys a big roll of stamps that lasts half a year. Occasionally there is a letter or parcel that has to be picked up. Loubabe went electronic over Christmas, sending out 135 e-cards through cyberspace and only goes to the old fashioned windows once a month to look into a post office box. Jennifer is among those who avoids the post office at all costs. She even buys her postage stamps at a local grocery. GBA.