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Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee

Lee has made a handful of guest appearances in films from her debut in "Stage Door Canteen" (1943) and delivered dramatic turns in two features. In Michael Curtiz's 1953 remake of "The Jazz Singer," she was the musical star who encouraged the cantor's son (Danny Thomas) to pursue his show biz dream. Two years later, Lee had a banner year in films: she wrote five songs and voiced several characters for Disney's animated "The Lady and the Tramp" and she earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her turn as an alcoholic singer hitting bottom in "Pete Kelly's Blues." While Lee has never appeared in another film, she has written and performed songs for such diverse films as Stanley Kramer's "The Pride and the Passion" (1957), "Tom Thumb" (1958) and "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming" (1966). Lee continued to perform in nightclubs, despite health problems (double bypass surgery, a fall that has left her confined to a wheelchair). In 1991, she made headlines when she successfully sued Disney for a share of the profits from the videocassette sales of "The Lady and the Tramp," claiming the studio had violated her contract by releasing the film without her permission. A jury awarded her a $3.825 million settlement that was reduced by a judge to $2.3 million. In 1998, she suffered a stroke which put an end to her long and distinguished career. She died on January 21, 2002 at age 81.
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