Katie Lee traveled for her career and for leisure throughout her life. From visiting local spots like canyons and nearby cities to journeying around the world, Lee’s travels all provide insight into her passions, ideals, and world views.
Katie Lee’s music career required her to travel across the United States. Whether she was doing a full tour, as she did for the National Humanities Tour in 1971, or performing at nightclubs and coffee shops, Lee’s musical performances brought her to many different places.
One of Lee’s bigger tours was in Chicago, where she performed at various venues. The manuscript portion of her collection contains newspaper clippings advertising her shows in Chicago as well as articles on who she was and why she was a favorite in Chicago.
In addition to performing in Chicago, Lee toured New York City at the prestigious Blue Angel Club between the 1940s and early 1960s. She also performed in her hometown of Tucson during the height of her career. As in Chicago, local newspapers advertised Lee’s shows and praised her performances.
In 1953, Katie Lee ran the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. She was the third woman to run all the rapids in the Grand Canyon, and the 175th person after John Wesley Powell to run the river. It was this trip that set her on the path to run Glen Canyon the following year.
At this time, Lee was working in Hollywood. Her roles on radio and television were small, and she did not receive steady paychecks. As a result, she didn’t have the money to pay for the trip, which cost $500 for the upper half of the Grand Canyon and another $500 for the lower half. To pay for her trip, she performed folk songs for the other passengers. Luckily, she only had to pay $50 for her food. Lee described this exchange of entertainment for passage on trips as having taken place on other occasions.
One of Lee’s most frequently visited locations was Baja California, Mexico. She met her third and final husband, Edwin “Brandy” Brandelius Jr., during her first trip to Baja in 1968. Brandy was a World War II veteran and a race car driver. One of his lungs was punctured in a racing accident, and he contracted emphysema. As a result, he had to spend most of his time in lower altitudes like Baja. Brandy was told he had three years to live after 1968. He lived for five, dying in Baja in 1973. Lee described Brandy as her best husband. She continued to visit Baja until the early 2000s, normally going with friends.
Katie Lee’s longest trip was from late 1978 to early 1980. After her mother died in 1976 and left her some money, Lee decided she wanted to travel the world. Her “World Trip” was also a celebration of her 60th birthday.
Lee began in Hong Kong and traveled west. In Asia, she visited China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Bali. In January 1979, she visited Australia, where she met Joey, and New Zealand. Katie also traveled to Greece, Vienna, and London on this trip.
When she returned home, Lee wrote Around the World on $5 about her travels. She attempted to have it published, but it never was. The manuscript for Around the World on $5 is now part of Lee’s collection.
In addition to her World Trip, Katie traveled internationally on other occasions. Some trips include: Portugal and Spain in 1966; Holland and Scotland in 1984; Australia and New Zealand in 1987; Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in 1991; Costa Rica, Argentina, and Chile in 1994; Australia, Fiji, and Sonora in 1997; and Panama in 2001.
Outside of her time traveling around the United States for her career, Lee was also a tourist. Her love for rivers was not contained to the Colorado River. She made repeated trips down the San Juan River, notably from 1954 to 1957. In 1989, Joey and Katie visited Alaska.