Born: September 26, 1926 | Died: October 18, 2000 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Julie London told Life Magazine in 1957 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 over-smoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate. Her vocal style has been described as being sultry, sexy, come-hither, intimate, breathy, warm, smoky, haunting, husky, sullen, sad, suggestive and seductive.
The majority of her album covers were graced by sultry, yet sophisticated pictures of Julie - the cover of her first album, Julie is Her Name, being, at the time, thought of as so sexy that it was described as ...generating enough voltage to light up a theater marquee. The album Calendar Girl is graced with 12 cheesecake photos of Miss London - one for each month of the year, with an additional large photo for the thirteenth month on the inside of the foldout cover.
Julie London was born Julie Peck on September 26, 1926 in Santa Rosa, California, to Jack and Josephine Peck, a song and dance team in vaudeville and radio. In 1929, the family moved to San Bernardino, where Julie's parents had a radio show, on which she occasionally appeared. In 1941, they moved to Los Angeles, where Julie left school and went to work as an elevator operator in a department store. She began singing during this time with the Matty Malnech Orchestra. In Los Angeles, she met Jack Webb, then in the Marine Corps, and Sue Carol, an actor/agent and wife of Alan Ladd. Carol obtained a screen test for Julie, which started her on a movie career. Julie's roles during the first few years were bit parts. She soon reached star status by playing leading roles in such movies as A Question of Adultery, Task Force, and The Fat Man.
In 1947 she married Webb, who was just breaking into dramatic acting on radio. With marriage, she temporarily gave up her movie career to become a full-time wife and mother, and they had two daughters, Stacy and Lisa. Jack Webb was also a jazz fan and cornet player. He was best known for his role as Seargeant Friday in Dragnet on both radio and television, also began Mark VII Productions, producing, writing and directing many television programs.
In November, 1953, London and Webb divorced. With the breakup of her marriage, Julie entered a brief period during which, she said, she had a lack of self confidence. In 1954 this changed when she met Bobby Troup, a jazz musician and songwriter, best known for his hit by Nat “King” Cole, “Route 66”. Under his guidance she began a serious singing career in 1955. Her first singing engagement was the 881 Club in Los Angeles. In 1955 she cut her first album, Julie is Her Name. Included on this LP was her most successful hit: Cry Me a River. Over three million copies of the album and single were sold. The single remained on Billboard charts for 13 weeks, and the LP for 20. Julie was voted one of the top female vocalists of 1955, 1956, and 1957. On New Year's Eve, 1959, she and Bobby Troup married.
At the same time as her singing career took off, Julie's movie career was also resurrected. In 1956 she starred as an alcoholic singer in the film The Great Man. From there, she went on to star, or co-star in more movies for United Artists and MGM, including: Man of The West, Voice In The Mirror, The Wonderful Country, The George Raft Story, and The Third Voice. During the film Voice in the Mirror, Julie became a songwriter, composing the title song for the movie.
Julie London recorded 32 albums. One of her most famous singles Cry Me a River was written by her high school classmate Arthur Hamilton and produced by her husband Troup. The song was featured in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It. This became a million-selling single after release in April 1957 and also sold on re-issue in April 1983 from the attention brought by a Mari Wilson cover. The song gained recent attention being featured in the films Passion of Mind (2000) and V for Vendetta (2006). Other hit singles include Making Whoopee, Blue Moon and It Had to be You. Songs such as Go Slow epitomized her career style: her voice is slow, smoky, and sensual. Aside from her music, the notably suggestive portrait photos used on London's album covers made lasting impressions even on the tone deaf. The song Yummy Yummy Yummy was featured on the HBO series Six Feet Under and appears on its soundtrack album.
During the late 50's and into the 60's, Julie did some international tours in such locales as Brazil and Japan. While in Japan, she recorded a Japanese-only television program with Bobby Troup and his band. Many of her records were also released in Japan.
Julie London also appeared on numerous television shows as both actress and singer. In 1971, she began playing one of her best-known roles as Nurse Dixie McCall on the tv show, Emergency, which also featured Bobby Troup, as Dr. Joe Early. After Emergency, Julie did one last film: Survival On Charter #220 before retiring from show business.
Julie essentially quit recording when the Liberty label folded in 1968, but her last recording was in 1981, for the movie Sharky's Machine, in which she performed My Funny Valentine for the soundtrack.
She suffered a stroke in 1995, and was in poor health until her death in Encino, California, at the age of 74, survived by four of her five children. On her death in October 2000, Julie London was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
In Bobby Troup's words about his wife: She is not a Julie London fan. She honestly doesn't realize 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. I couldn't wait to do them, and she was only glad when they were over.
Appearances What's My Line? (three episodes) (1957-1961) Rawhide (one episode) (1960) The Eleventh Hour (one episode) (1963) The Big Valley (one episode) (1967) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (two episodes, The Prince of Darkness Affair, Part 1, Part 2, (1967), re- released as the feature film, The Helicopter Spies (1968) Emergency! (19721979) series regular Adam-12 (one episode, Lost and Found) as Dixie McCall Tattletales! (game show hosted by Bert Convy, 19741978) Emergency: Survival on Charter #220 (1978) Films Nabonga (1944) Diamond Horseshoe (1945) (bit part) On Stage Everybody (1945) A Night in Paradise (1946) (bit part) The Red House (1947) Tap Roots (1948) Task Force (1949) Return of the Frontiersman (1950) The Fat Man (1951) The Fighting Chance (1955) The Girl Can't Help It (1956) Crime Against Joe (1956) The Great Man (1956) Drango (1957) Saddle the Wind (1958) Voice in the Mirror (1958) Man of the West (1958) Night of the Quarter Moon (1959) The Wonderful Country (1959) A Question of Adultery (1959) The Third Voice (1960) The George Raft Story (1961)
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