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Julie London Bios and Obits

Below are two sections with biographical information on Julie garnered from various Internet sources.
The first is a
general bio section; the second a collection of obituaries from
the US and UK written around the time of her death on October 18, 2000.

(For further biographical info, see also the Links section of this site, which has links to major Julie sites featuring extended bios.)

All information below is copyrighted by the sources listed.


All Movie Guide      All Music Guide      Encyclopedia of Popular Music


All Movie Guide

by Hal Erickson


Sultry blues vocalist Julie London began her film career long before she achieved fame as a recording artist. In 1945, 18-year-old London was selected to play a bargain-basement jungle princess, appearing opposite a gorilla in the PRC cheapie Nabonga. She was pretty bad, but no worse than the film itself. By the time she was cast as a sexy teenager in The Red House (1947), her acting had improved immensely, and by the time she played the female lead in the 1951 programmer The Fat Man, it looked as though she actually had a future in films. Still, London's greatest claim to fame was her long string of hit records ("Cry Me a River" et. al.) of the 1950s; many male admirers bought her albums simply to gaze upon her come-hither countenance on the dust jacket. Her status as every red-blooded American boy's wish dream was gently lampooned in Frank Tashlin's The Girl Can't Help It (1956), in which she appears as a spectral vision who transfixes a wistful Tom Ewell. Her best dramatic film appearances of this period include her leading-lady gigs in Voice in the Mirror (1958) and Man of the West (1958). From 1945 through 1955, Julie London was the wife of actor/producer Jack Webb; years after the divorce, London played Nurse Dixie McCall on the popular Jack Webb-produced TV series Emergency, in which she co-starred with her second husband, actor/jazz musician Bobby Troup.


All Music Guide

by Alex Henderson

A sultry, smoky-voiced master of understatement, Julie London enjoyed considerable popularity during the cool era of the 1950s. London never had the range of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, but often used restraint, softness, and subtlety to maximum advantage. An actress as well as a singer, London played with heavyweights like Gregory Peck and Rock Hudson in various films, and was married to Jack Webb of Dragnet fame for seven years before marrying songwriter Bobby Troup ("Route 66"). London performed her biggest hit, "Cry Me a River," in the Jayne Mansfield film The Girl Can't Help It. After recording her last album, Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, in 1969, she continued to act -- playing a nurse on the NBC medical drama Emergency from 1974-1978. Despite her "sex symbol" image -- London was known for her sexy LP covers, which make them collector's items -- she was surprisingly shy, and left show biz altogether in the late '70s. In the mid-'90s London suffered a stroke, which led to a half-decade of poor health and ultimately contributed to her death on October 18, 2000.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music

b. Julie Peck, 26 September 1926, Santa Rosa, California, USA, d. 18 October 2000, Encino, California, USA. Actress-singer London was inextricably linked to the sultry Andy Hamilton song "Cry Me A River", which gave the artist her sole million-seller in 1955. Her memorable performance of the song in the movie The Girl Can't Help It, showcased a lachrymose delivery best exemplified on her debut album Julie Is Her Name, which also featured the talent of jazz guitarist Barney Kessel. London continued to record prodigiously throughout the late 50s to the mid-60s, but this aspect of her career vied with her movie roles, notably The Great Man and A Question Of Adultery. She later appeared in several television series, often alongside her second husband and long-time producer and songwriter Bobby Troup. In 1972, she starred as nurse Dixie McCall in the popular series Emergency!. The series was produced by her first husband, Jack Webb, and also starred Troup. Her popularity underwent a revival in the UK in the early 80s after Mari Wilson gained a hit with London's classic lament. London's looks were stunning, she oozed style, but unfortunately she did not possess the vocal range or expression to make her a truly great singer.

Julie London was born in Santa Rosa, California on September 26, 1926. Her parents, Josephine and Jack Peck, had been vaudeville performers; Julie made her professional debut on their San Bernardino radio show when she was three years old. The family moved to Los Angeles when Julie was fourteen.

It was while she was working in a department store as an elevator operator that agent Sue Carol discovered Julie. She worked in films as well as a radio actress and she was photographed as a World War II pinup in 1943. She also sang occasionally with some small groups.

Julie met Jack Webb when she was fifteen; the two dated until Jack went into the Army. After his discharge from the Army, the two resumed dating until Jack went to San Francisco to do a radio show. When the show ended he returned to Hollywood and in 1947 Jack and Julie were married. Julie continued to work sporadically until their daughter Stacy was born in 1950. A second daughter, Lisa, was born in 1952, but Julie was not able to hold the marriage together when Jack's work became all-consuming and he no longer had time for his family. They were divorced in 1953.

In March, 1954, Julie met Bobby Troup, who recognized her talent and urged her to sing. She agreed to consider recording and cut four tracks for Bethlehem Records, but the company chose not to sign her. Eventually Julie was booked for a singing engagement at Johnny Walsh's 881 Club in Beverly Hills; the two-week engagement ran for ten weeks. Bobby brought Si Waronker to hear her and soon she was signed to record for Liberty records. Her first album, "Julie Is Her Name," almost single-handedly launched the torch singer popularity of the late 1950s and became her first gold album. Over the course of her career, she would record more than thirty albums for the label and, although "Cry Me A River" was her only "charted hit," she enjoyed a continuing popularity. Of all the popular female vocalists of the 1950s, Julie was one of the few that did not have roots in the big band era. She preferred small, intimate clubs, enjoyed singing for college groups, and even made a college tour through the South in the early 1960s. Julie also had the honor of singing for President John F. Kennedy at the White House Correspondents' Ball in 1961.

Along with her new singing career, Julie's film career took off once more and she began guesting on television variety shows as well. She also tried her hand at record-producing ["Do Re Mi," on the Liberty label] and wrote lyrics for songs such as "Voice in the Mirror" and "The Freshmen." She became a popular television series guest star and also made a pilot for a series. But it was not until Jack Webb's EMERGENCY! In 1972 that she actually had the opportunity to star in a series of her own.

But it was family, not career, that was Julie's priority. Her forty-year marriage to Bobby Troup lasted until his death in 1999. She and Bobby welcomed a daughter, Kelly, in 1962 and twin sons, Jody and Reese, in 1963. The quintessential homebody, Julie knitted socks and sweaters. Family oriented, she loved children, enjoyed sports, swimming, and playing games.

Julie enjoyed playing Dixie McCall and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on EMERGENCY! Her last recording, "My Funny Valentine," for the film "Sharky's Machine" was made in 1981 and after that Julie happily retired from show business.

In 1995, Julie suffered a stroke and spent the last few years of her life in declining health. Tragedy struck the family in 1996 when Julie's oldest daughter, Stacy, was killed in a traffic accident. Bobby passed away in February 1999; Julie on October 18 (Bobby's birthday) in 2000 at the age of seventy-four. Her legacy remains in her music as well as in the rich and varied film and television work she left behind.


Obituaries: US and UK



E! Online       Los Angeles Times       Movie Magazine Internatl'      New York Times


E! Online

"Emergency!" Star Julie London Dies

Julie London, forever nurse Dixie McCall in TV Land's Emergency! reruns, died Wednesday at the age of 74.

London, in poor health since suffering a stroke five years ago, died of cardiac arrest at 5:30 a.m. in Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles, a hospital spokesperson confirmed.

On Emergency!, London played the head nurse of Los Angeles' fictional Rampart Hospital, who aided the victims brought in by ace paramedics Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe) and John  Gage (Randolph Mantooth). The series, which ran on NBC from 1972 to 1977, was  something of a family affair for London. It was produced by her ex-husband, Dragnet star Jack Webb, and it costarred her second hubbie, jazzman-composer-actor Bobby Troup,  who played Dr. Joe Early, resident brain surgeon. (Troup died last year of heart failure at  80.)

While she will be remembered for her tube work on the vintage '70s series, London was  also a smoky-voiced singing sensation.

She initially made her show-biz mark as a singer on the nightclub circuit.  After scoring a hit with " Cry Me a River" in 1955, Troup (who wrote the classic "Route 66") got her  booked for several nightclub engagements. She eventually recorded 32 albums and  charted with such tunes as "In the Middle of a Kiss" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy,"  "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," "Around Midnight" and "In the Wee Small Hours of  the Morning." Billboard voted her one of the top female vocalists of 1955, '56 and '57.

London, who had in her youth appeared in such films as Jungle Woman (1944), The Red House (1947) with Edward G. Robinson, Task Force (1949) with Gary Cooper, The Fat Man (1950) with Rock Hudson, returned to acting in the late '50s and '60s. She appeared in the film A Question of Adultery in 1958 and on such TV shows as Rawhide, I Spy and Big Valley before landing the Emergency! gig.

The daughter of vaudevillians, she was born Julie Peck in Santa Rosa, California, and moved with her parents to Los Angeles when she was in her teens, and soon caught the eye of talent scouts, which led to her first screen roles.

London is survived by a daughter from her marriage to Webb and three children from her 39-year marriage to Troup.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Per Hollywood tradition, flowers were placed on her  Walk of Fame star Wednesday evening.


Los Angeles Times

Julie London: Torch Singer, Movie and Television Actress

By Myrna Oliver

Julie London, the smoky-voiced torch singer who insisted she couldn't sing but whose voice sent shivers down spines and whose album covers alone turned men weak in the knees and women green with envy, died Wednesday. She was 74.
London, the sultry actress who declared herself no Sarah Bernhardt but is remembered as head nurse of the 1970s television series "Emergency," died in Encino Hospital. Meyer Sack, her longtime business manager, said she died of complications of a stroke suffered five years ago.

Her first recorded single, "Cry Me a River" in 1956, propelled her into musical history. Relatively unknown as an actress despite a spate  of films in the 1940s, London also caught fire on screen the same year as alcoholic singer Carol Larson in Jose Ferrer's "The Great Man." 
Theme magazine dubbed her its "most exciting new vocalist" for  the year and Variety applauded the actress "who digs into a dramatic  role and socks it across with aplomb." 
London recorded more than 30 albums--among them "Julie Is Her Name," "Lonely Girl," "Calendar Girl," "About the Blues," "Make  Love to Me," "London by Night"--with that voice connoisseurs described as smoky, husky, breathy, haunting, intimate and even "a voice for a smoke-filled room." 
Maybe they called it smoky because she smoked too much, she joked, and maybe breathy because she never learned how to breathe properly, and intimate because "I'm a girl who needs amplification."  Despite her vaunted voice and beauty, she was known for zero  self-confidence and always credited her success to good material in song or script. 
When she played a pseudo Marilyn Monroe in the 1963 television drama "Diamond in the Sky," London scoffed at comparisons,  insisting: "We're opposite types. Marilyn was the sex symbol. . . . I'm  strictly the housewife-mother type."
Yet London's mere appearance, with her statuesque figure, had such an effect on men that critics were never certain whether her albums sold so well because of her vocal prowess or her sexy photos on the cover.
"Just as long as they buy the records, I don't care why they buy 'em," she happily told The Times in 1961, later joking: "We spent more time on the covers than the music." 
In the early 1960s, when cigarettes were advertised on television, London memorably crooned "The Marlboro Song" to a swain in a convertible or beach house. A hard-bitten Times business writer confessed that London was the only woman on television who could persuade him to buy anything--adding that he smoked a dozen of her touted brand while interviewing her.
When London testified before the U.S. Senate in 1967 that performers deserved copyright protection as much as writers, a nationally syndicated political writer threw objectivity to the winds and slavered: "Miss London stole the show. . . . She had come in a high dress, a blue woolly-shifty thing that touched all the bases like a grand-slam home run. Her eyelashes were three furlongs of black beachcombers and her hair was spun brass. . . ."
Entertainment writers never even pretended reserve. In the 1940s, a Times critic called the teenager "a young Bette Davis . . . provocative, decisively different."  A decade later, another described her as "a magnificently assembled blond child. . . ."
London was born to her roles as actress and singer, yet achieved each in the kind of fluke Hollywood loves to make movies about.   She was born Julie Peck in Santa Rosa, Calif., the daughter of a  radio and vaudeville song-and-dance team, and made her own vocal debut on radio at age 3. She grew up in San Bernardino, where her parents sang on local radio, and in Los Angeles, where she dropped out of school at 15 to hire on as a $19-a-week department store elevator operator.
At 17, she tried singing with a band for a few months, but soon went back to the elevator. One of her passengers, talent agent Sue Carol, the wife of Alan Ladd, decided anybody that beautiful needed a screen test. 
At 18, London made her official film debut opposite Buster Crabbe in the 1944 "Nabonga," later retitled "Gorilla," a film she preferred to forget. Most notable of her early films was the 1947 "Red House," starring Edward G. Robinson. 
As her acting career began to blossom, she met and married the obscure star of a radio drama called "Pat Novak for Hire," Jack Webb. They married in 1947, and when his television show "Dragnet" put them in the money a few years later, she became a happy housewife until their divorce in 1953. 
Bobby Troup, her second husband, proved the Svengali for London's singing career, cajoling and encouraging her to go public after he heard her sing beside his piano at a private party. He booked her into Los Angeles' 881 Club for three weeks. She stayed 10 and went on to become a recording and saloon singing star, appearing frequently on TV variety shows hosted by Dinah Shore, Bob Hope,  Steve Allen and Perry Como. 
Troup, the songwriter of such hits as "Route 66," even got her to  write a song or two, namely the title song--which she also sang--for her 1958 film about Alcoholics Anonymous, "The Voice in the Mirror."
London married Troup on New Year's Eve, 1959. Webb rescued them from the road and the nightclub circuit a decade or so later by hiring them both for his Mark VII Productions' "Emergency." London was nurse Dixie McCall to Troup's neurosurgeon Dr. Joe Early  during the series' run from 1972 to 1977. 
The actress London's last motion picture was "The George Raft Story" in 1961, in which she portrayed Raft's first girlfriend, Sheila Patton. The singer London's last album was "Easy Does It" in 1969, which she considered her best.
After "Emergency" went off the air, London happily retired. But her indelibly stylistic singing still finds its way onto movie soundtracks in such films as "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" last year and "The Big Tease" earlier this year.
A widow since Troup's death in early 1999, London is survived by four children: Lisa Webb Breen of Manhattan Beach; Kelly Troup Romick of West Los Angeles; and twin sons Reese Troup of West Los Angeles and Jody Troup of Sherman Oaks. Another daughter,  Stacy Webb, died several years ago in a car accident.
Services will be private. The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the UCLA Johnson Cancer Clinic.


Movie Magazine International (syndicated radio program)

(October 25, 2000)

by Monica Sullivan


Few starlets were as gorgeous as 18-year-old Julie London when she entered the film business in 1944 with "Nabonga." She befriended a gorilla after living through a plane crash in that one. The following year, she paid her dues in musicals for Universal & Fox ("On Stage Everybody" & "Diamond Horseshoe"), but she got a good break in the 1947 film noir, "The Red House." Cast opposite Rory Calhoun at his most breathtaking, London burned up the screen and big things were expected of her. Although she made dozens of movies over the next 3 years and was impressive in all of them, Julie London always looked as if she could take on her career or leave it alone & no harm done either way. The high voltage electricity she was more than capable of projecting she saved for her singing career. Her specialties were torch songs like "Cry Me A River" & she gave the lyrics & the phrasing a smoldering, smoky quality that left audiences in no doubt that this dame had BEEN there AND back.


In one of her best roles, she played the wife of alcoholic Richard Egan in "Voice in the Mirror." In addition to singing the haunting vocal track, London was enormously effective as a woman who would rather see her much-loved husband dead than ever watch him take another drink. It was London's special gift to take tough tender characters, however sketchily drawn, & work her unique magic on them so they emerged fully dimensional & glowingly real. Along with her husband Bobby Troup and Robert Fuller, Kevin Tighe & Randolph Mantooth, she helped to make "Emergency" one of the more durable medical series of the 1970's and she is still remembered fondly by late night fans of the Rod Serling western "Saddle the Wind," co-starring Robert Taylor and John Cassavetes. Look for the come-hither album "Julie Is Her Name" to hear what all the fuss was about. It's vintage Julie London at her most provocative. She helped make a less than fabulous era a lot warmer on long cold nights.



New York Times

(October 19, 2000)

Julie London, Sultry Singer and Actress of 50's, Dies at 74

By Douglas Martin

Julie London, whose understated voice and striking honey-blond appearance made her one of the top female vocalists of the 1950's and 60's, died yesterday at a hospital in Southern California. She was 74.

Miss London, who lived in the San Fernando Valley, suffered a stroke five years ago and was in poor health, a spokesman for Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center told The Associated Press.

She was also an actress in scores of movies and television shows, including the popular role of Nurse Dixie McCall in "Emergency!" in the 1970's.

Miss London went from playing bit parts in the early 1940's to starring roles and pin-up status among World War II servicemen. Then, in 1947, she married the actor  Jack Webb, later famous on "Dragnet," and stopped  working to be a full-time wife and mother. After they divorced five years later, she became a serious singer under the tutelage of Bobby Troup, a jazz musician and  songwriter.

Her first 45 single, released in 1955, was "Cry Me a River," and it was included on her first album, "Julie Is Her Name."  More than three million copies of the album and single were sold. She made more than 30 albums.

She was voted one of the top female vocalists of 1955, 1956 and 1957.  On New Year's Eve 1959, she married Mr. Troupe, who died last year.

Adjectives such as sexy, intimate, breathy, husky and suggestive were applied to her singing. The singer herself told Life magazine in 1957: "It's only a thimbleful of a  voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it  is a kind of oversmoked voice and it automatically sounds intimate."

Her sound and her looks were closely intertwined. Most of her albums were graced by sultry, yet sophisticated  pictures of her.

Miss London was born as Julie Peck in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Sept. 26, 1926. Her parents, Jack and Josephine Peck formed a song and dance team in vaudeville and radio. In 1929, they moved to San Bernardino, where her parents had a radio show on which Julie sometimes appeared. In 1941, they moved to Los Angeles and she graduated from Hollywood Professional High School.

She then took a job as an elevator operator in a department store where she was discovered by talent agent Sue Carol, the wife of the actor Alan Ladd. She appeared in her first film, "Nabonga," in 1944, and began singing with the Matty Malnech Orchestra. She met Mr. Webb who was then in the Marine Corps. They married in 1947, and she gave up her budding movie career to become a full-time wife and mother.

They had two daughters, Stacy and Lisa. They divorced in 1953. After meeting Mr. Troupe she began singing again, recovering some of what she called sagging confidence.

Her movie career also revived. She starred as an alcoholic singer in the 1956 film "The Great Man." She then starred or co-starred in "Man of the West," "Voice in the Mirror,"  "The George Raft Story" and "The Third Voice." She composed the title song for "Voice in the Mirror."

In 1972, she began her role in "Emergency!" After the show ended in 1977, she did one last film before retiring from show business. 

She is survived by a daughter from her marriage to Mr. Webb, Lisa Breen of Manhattan Beach, Calif. She also left three children from her 39-year marriage to Mr. Troupe: a  daughter, Kelly Ronick of West Los Angeles, and twin sons, Jody, of Los Angeles, and Reese, of West Los Angeles.



BBC Online       The Guardian        The Independent


BBC Online

October 19, 2000

Singer Julie London dies

Julie London in Emergency! American singer and actress Julie London - famed in the 1950s and 1960s for her sultry voice on hits like Cry Me A River - has died, aged 74.

London had been in ill health since suffering a stroke five years ago. She died in hospital in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

London was once married to Dragnet star Jack Webb and had been out of the limelight since playing nurse Dixie McCall in his 1970s TV medical drama series Emergency!

She co-starred with Bobby Troup in the show who later became her second husband.

Julie London in 1958 London was born Julie Peck in Santa Clara, California. She moved to Los Angeles at the age of 14 with her parents' radio and vaudeville act and broke into films in the 1940s.

She appeared in more than 20 films in the 1940s and 1950s, including Task Force, The Fat Man and A Question of Adultery.

Her legendary singing talents were heard in the 1956 Jayne Mansfield film The Girl Can't Help It.

But London is probably best remembered for her 1955 hit single Cry Me a River. The record sold three million copies and remained in demand into the 1960s.

Top vocalist

London married actor and TV executive Webb in 1947 and they were together for five years. He died in 1982.

Her second husband, Bobby Troup - who died in 1999 - was the composer, jazz musician and actor who wrote classic song Route 66. They were married for 39 years.

Troup booked London for a nightclub engagement that was followed by her hit with Cry Me A River and 32 albums.

London was voted one of Billboard's top female vocalists in 1955, 1956, and 1957.

Her best known songs include Around Midnight, In The Middle Of A Kiss, In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning and My Heart Belongs To Daddy.

London moved into TV in the 1960s, appearing in an episode of Big Valley before landing the role of the head nurse in Emergency!

She stayed with the show for its five-year run on NBC before retiring from show business.

London is survived by her daughter with Webb and three other children from her marriage to Troup.

October 27, 2000

by Tom Ewing

And Julie Was Her Name – Listening To Old Music

Whenever you choose to fix it, the birth of Rock is a barrier, like a wall built in time. We on the other side look back to the times before and can’t touch them somehow, can’t imagine those records actually being released, being new. Was there ever a crackle of excitement when Round Midnight or Julie…At Home came out - did anyone queue at the counters on the first day, did anyone even notice? And on the other side of the wall we live in a perpetual present, where every old record is sold to us because of how now it suddenly sounds, and where nothing ever ends. How can you seriously suggest the Beatles broke up when their serene cartoon faces gaze down from every bookshop and record shop in the land, still bigger than Jesus, history and death?

John Lennon’s death is played out again and again - reading a lot about music I think I probably see a reference to it every single day of my life. Julie London died and most people I know thought she was dead already: ironically for a singer who had the best timing in pop, it seemed as if she missed her cue. The BBC website showed her acting a nurse in a TV show, but they showed her at least: I didn’t see much on any other sites, or many obituaries, but then I couldn’t tell you when she made her last record even. You would find her records in the ‘Oldies’ section and shiver, because that was part of why you were buying them: as something old, something classic, from before the mad whirl of Rock started up.

We buy all those old records now - Julie and Peggy and Frank and Dean - because of what they represent as much as what they are. It’s a vote for a smoother, wittier, more stylish world than the one we’ve landed up with: the chink of glass against glass, the sharp flare of trumpets, the devastating couplet and the clutch of hand on hip. But it’s also a safe vote, for a world that can’t come back, which is why these records are so often seen through the prism of kitsch. I’d hazard a guess that there aren’t many people now for whom Julie London records are a central part of who they are, rather than an elegant mixer for their more everyday tastes.

In a way, we’ve forgotten how to listen to them. We like our records, sometimes, to seem distanced, but when we play Magnetic Fields or Pet Shop Boys albums we’re so aware of context - that these records are somehow oppositional, that they’re distancing themselves from something (the great howling mass of Rock, generally). That’s how we try and use Julie London records, too, but Julie’s records aren’t in the least ironic, can’t be because they come from a time before any of that mattered.

What are they, then? They’re reserved, I suppose - you don’t get much grainy vocal emoting from Julie: even something as apparently straightforward and serious as “Cry Me A River” is delivered with a minimum of grandstanding and a maximum of sangfroid. Even so it sounds desolate and cruel. But the emotional idioms built up over forty years of rock singing are quite absent, and it’s only the ballads you can really ‘read’ emotionally in the way you’d read a record by Aretha or Madonna.

The uptempo songs, the swing numbers, are much harder to figure out. The crucial thing I think is to try and relate to them as performances, not as ‘works of art’ in the way we’ve been conditioned to think of albums as being. When rock musicians go into the studio now, they keep the audience in mind, but it’s an atomised audience, not a group audience. The recordings on the new Radiohead album, say, were created with individual consumption in mind: a single fan, in a bedroom or office or living room, taking meaning from the record as best they can. But the songs Julie sang were standards, intended to be sung as part of a programme, to a small or medium sized group of people.

That’s why the emphasis in these songs tends not to be on their direct emotional content, but on funny or elegant or unexpected rhymes and lyrics, and their delivery. It’s easier to evoke laughter in a group situation, after all. So the home listener finds themselves curiously adrift with a Julie London album, cut off from the performance-context of the songs. Even on Julie…At Home, an excellent album which pivots on the conceit that Julie has asked a recording set-up into her house to hear her play, this context is king: Julie is inviting them, and you, to a private, intimate performance. Compare this to the Rock era’s Basement and Bedroom tapes, where the emphasis is generally on the artist needing to retreat into a private realm before true creativity can be unlocked.

This disconnection ends up being something pleasurable, too, something refreshing after the emotional peaks and wracks which so much Rock tries to put you through. It accounts I think for why I find these ‘oldies’ records so charming and sly. (It accounts also for why I find stuff like Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore so exhilarating, but that’s another story). And in the meantime you can concentrate on the phrasing, the timing, the laughter and sex in songs like “Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend” or “Everything Happens To Me”, or just let their singer bow gracefully into the background and wash yourself in the craft of it all.

But still Julie London is dead. We won’t see a biopic because her life was a happy and private one, but we will see more compilations, eventually. Maybe we’ll find things to do with her music that make it less peripheral to the general buzz of things, or maybe the wall between the now music and the old music will remain impermeable. It doesn’t matter: as long as there are quiet nights and dancing, as long as we need music that captures romance as well as love, her songs will be played.


The Guardian

October 20, 2000

by Ronald Bergan


One of the most evocative sounds of the mid- to late-1950s, issuing from juke boxes, radios and film soundtracks, was the sexy, whispering voice of Julie London, who has died aged 74. Her own view was that she had "only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate."

London's biggest hit was her first single, Cry Me A River, which was released in 1955, included on her first album, Julie Is Her Name, and sold more than 3m copies. Her voluptuous features on the album cover were described by publicists as "generating enough voltage to light up a theatre marquee".

Similarly, the cover of her Calendar Girl album featured 12 glamorous shots, and, for her 1961 album, Whatever Julie Wants, she was guarded by armed security men as she posed beside $750,000 worth of furs, jewels and piles of money. In her movies, she looked her best in period costume, especially in westerns, where she decorated many a saloon bar.

London was born Julie Peck in California. Her parents, Jack and Josephine, were a vaudeville song-and-dance team, on whose radio show their daughter sang from an early age. In 1941, the family moved to Los Angeles, and, while working as a lift operator in a department store, Julie was discovered by talent agent Sue Carol, Alan Ladd's wife, and given a screen test.

Her first role, at 18, was as a jungle girl - with flowers in her blonde hair - in the risible Nabonga (1944), whose best friend was the eponymous gorilla, until handsome Buster Crabbe showed up. London acquitted herself well, but the cheapie picture did not lead to big film roles. Meanwhile, however, she was making a reputation as a singer with the Matty Malnech Orchestra.

In 1947, she married the actor Jack Webb, later famous on the radio and television police series, Dragnet, and worked only a little while bringing up their two daughters. She had a good part as Susan Hayward's amorous younger sister in the southern saga, Tap Roots (1948), and played a navy wife in Task Force (1949), starring Gary Cooper.

After she divorced Webb in 1953, London entered a brief period during which, in her own words, she lacked self-confidence. This changed when she met jazz musician and songwriter Bobby Troup, who guided her singing career and helped her become a top female vocalist from 1955 to 1957. The couple married in 1959, and had a daughter and twin sons.

Troup once remarked: "She is not a Julie London fan. She honestly doesn't realise how good she is. She's never really been a performer, she doesn't have that need to go out and please an audience and receive accolades. She's always been withdrawn, very introverted. She hated those big shows."

However, London continued to sing in nightclubs, cut discs, and record title songs from her films, such as Saddle The Wind (1958) and Voice In The Mirror (1958), which she also composed. In the latter, she showed growing maturity as an actress, playing the wife of an alcoholic.

As a dancehall singer, humiliated and raped by Lee J Cobb, then avenged by Gary Cooper, in Anthony Mann's allegorical Man Of The West (1959), she struck a tragic note. In The Wonderful Country (1959), she was won by Robert Mitchum after her husband had conveniently been killed by Apaches, and, in Night Of The Quarter Moon (1959), she shocked San Francisco society when, as John Drew Barrymore's bride, she admitted to having a black grandparent.

In 1972, having been out of the public eye for some time, London began her role as Nurse Dixie McCall in the television hospital series, Emergency. The show, which was produced and often directed by her first husband Webb, also starred her second husband, Troup. For five years, London was a star once more, reminding fans of the days when, to quote the writer Joseph Lanza, she "was a blend of Dionysian flesh and Detroit steel, streamlined car and cocktail shaker combined".


The Independent

October 20, 2000

By Steve Voce

It seemed to young men in the middle Fifties that Julie London was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Her face and figure were attractively proportioned to the requirements of the day, and she had a sultry voice that seemed to beckon one personally into her bedroom.

She was probably the most tasteful sex symbol of her time. But she was a shy woman who had to struggle with her fame. When it was over she backed away from it thankfully and lived as anonymously as she could with her second husband, the pianist-vocalist Bobby Troup, in Los Angeles. Julie London had a smoky voice and a good jazz sense. Her records were always intimate, with minimal accompaniment, often provided by the lone guitar of Barney Kessel with a bass player.

At one of her recording sessions the engineer left a tape recorder running whilst she was rehearsing "The Man I Love", a number that she couldn't sing in tune. The flawless guitar accompaniment emphasised her troubles and she must have tried to sing the song 20 times. Her language in between takes became worse and worse, and the image of the beautiful goddess soon went by the board as a hard-voiced harridan seemed to take her place. Eventually the song was abandoned, as it should have been after the second take. But all had been revealed. The tape eventually escaped to some of the cognoscenti where it caused much hilarity. "It's only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to a microphone," she said. "But it's a kind of over-smoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate."

She was born Julie Peck in Santa Rosa, California, in 1926, and moved to San Bernardino with her parents, Jack and Josephine Peck, who were a vaudeville song-and-dance team, when she was three. They had a radio show on which Julie sometimes appeared. The family moved to Los Angeles when she was 14 and she graduated there from Hollywood Professional High School. She took a job as a lift operator in a department store and sang at night with a band led by the violinist Matty Malneck. Sue Carol, a talent agent who was the wife of the actor Alan Ladd, heard her and before long Julie London was given a film contract.

Her earlier films were hardly productions from the top drawer. In 1944 she appeared in Nabonga and Jungle Girl. In 1945 she married Jack Webb, the star of the Dragnet radio and television show, who would later star in and produce the 1955 film Pete Kelly's Blues. Her next film was in 1947 when she appeared with Edward G. Robinson in The Red House. She gave up her budding film career when her daughter was born later in the year. But she returned for Task Force (1949) with Gary Cooper, then The Fat Man (1950) with Rock Hudson.

She and Webb were divorced in 1953. She then met Bobby Troup, composer of the hit song "Route 66", who revived her singing career. She had been suffering from what she described as "sagging confidence".

Her most potent film appearance was in the otherwise dreadful The Girl Can't Help It (1956), which starred Jayne Mansfield. Troup, whom she married in 1959, wrote the title song and in the film London sang the song that was to make her world famous, "Cry Me a River". The 45 single of "Cry Me a River" sold three million copies at the time, and remained her greatest hit, still much in demand when it was re- issued on compact disc many years later.

With Troup's encouragement, London's film career also revived, and she was given more substantial roles to play. She starred as an alcoholic singer in The Great Man (1956) and again with Gary Cooper and with Lee J. Cobb in Man of the West (1958). She wrote the title song for Voice in the Mirror (1958) and starred in it with Walter Matthau. In the same busy year she appeared in A Question of Adultery and in 1961 starred in The George Raft Story. In all she appeared in more than 20 films.

Her singing career burgeoned alongside her film work and in 1955, 1956 and 1957 she was voted one of Billboard's top female vocalists. By now she was an established recording star, and became known also for the highly charged pictures on her album covers. These became collectors' items. The critic Donald Clarke wrote of her first album Julie Is Her Name (1955) that "the conventionally sexist sleeve picture featuring the bare shoulders of a maturely attractive woman was refreshing at a time when pop music seemed to be dominated by anorexic or barely pubescent teenagers". Her albums regularly reached healthy positions in the LP charts of the time and she used outstanding jazz musicians like Kessel and the pianist Jimmy Rowles as her accompanists. She recorded her last album, her 32nd, Easy Does It, in 1967.

London moved to television, playing from 1974 to 1978 the nurse Dixie McCall in the serialised medical drama Emergency, which was produced by Jack Webb. Bobby Troup also had a role in the series. Retiring finally in the late Seventies, she and her husband became a very popular couple in the city of Los Angeles. They lived quietly until London had a stroke in 1996. She was completely incapacitated and Bobby Troup spent the rest of his life looking after her until he died last year.