Octogenarian Peggy King is still singing in selected venues these days, entertaining her fans with some of her best songs while reminiscing about her long career. But even though she’s mostly remembered now for her many TV appearances, especially those on the show hosted by George Gobel (who often introduced her as ‘pretty perky Peggy King’), she actually began as a songbird — a singer in the big band era.
A native of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Peggy King first began attracting notice in the post-war years, gaining experience by singing for popular bands like those of Charlie Spivak, Ralph Flanagan and Ray Anthony. By the early 1950s she’d also blossomed on radio and early TV, doing everything from guest shots to singing commercials. In fact, it was the latter activity that brought her to the attention of Mitch Miller, at that time the A&R guru for Columbia Records, and she soon began hitting the recording studio with regularity.
Although she didn’t have any mega-sellers, Peggy managed to craft a number of successful records in the mid-1950s, enjoying her biggest hit with her interpretation of Sarah Vaughan’s “Make Yourself Comfortable.” Her work earned her recognition as Best New Singer Of The Year from Downbeat magazine, but her career really took off from her many TV appearances. For a while it seemed as if she was everywhere, making guest shots on shows hosted by Jack Benny, Steve Allen, and Milton Berle. She also did a little acting from time to time, but her most memorable appearances were made as a regular on George Gobel’s show. She made a good foil for his humor and — of course — was always an entertaining singer in her musical numbers.
Things eventually slowed down and Peggy settled in Philadelphia, pretty much retired from active performing, but she occasionally resurfaced for special projects, such as working with the Philadelphia Orchestra and hosting an interview show. In recent years she has again started singing for her fans, and Pretty Perky Peggy King appears to be having a ball.