Julie London (September 26, 1926 – October 18, 2000) was an American singer and actress. She was best known for her smoky, sensual voice. London was at her singing career's peak in the 1950s. Her acting career lasted more than 35 years. It concluded with the female lead role of nurse Dixie McCall on the television series Emergency! (1972–1979), co-starring her best friend Robert Fuller and her real-life husband Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband Jack Webb.
Born Gayle Peck in Santa Rosa, California, she was the daughter of Jack and Josephine Peck, who were a vaudeville song-and-dance team. When she was 14, the family moved to Los Angeles. Shortly after that, she began appearing in movies. She graduated from the Hollywood Professional School in 1945.
In July 1947 she married actor Jack Webb (of Dragnet fame). This unlikely pairing arose from their mutual love for jazz. They had two daughters: Stacy and Lisa Webb. London and Webb divorced in November 1954. Daughter Stacy Webb was killed in a traffic accident in 1996.
In 1954 having become somewhat reclusive after her divorce from Webb, she met jazz composer and musician Bobby Troup at a club on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. They married on December 31, 1959, and remained married until his death in February 1999. They had one daughter, Kelly Troup, who died in March 2002, and twin sons, Jody and Reese Troup (b. May 28, 1963). Jody died June 10, 2010, just 13 days after his 47th birthday. His cremated remains are interred with those of his parents in Courts of Remembrance, Columbarium of Providence, at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
London suffered a stroke in 1995 and was in poor health until her death on October 18, 2000 (the day her husband, Bobby Troup, would have been 82), in Encino, California, at age 74. Survived by three of her five children, London was interred next to Troup in the Courts of Remembrance, Columbarium of Providence, at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery, Los Angeles. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
London began singing under the name Gayle Peck in public in her teens before appearing in a film. She was discovered by talent agent, Sue Carol (wife of actor Alan Ladd), while working as an elevator operator. Her early film career, however, did not include any singing roles.
London recorded 32 albums in a career that began in 1955 with a live performance at the 881 Club in Los Angeles. Billboard named her the most popular female vocalist for 1955, 1956, and 1957. She was the subject of a 1957 Life cover article in which she was quoted as saying, "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.
London's debut recordings were for the Bethlehem Records label. While shopping for a record deal, she recorded four tracks that would later be included on the compilation album, Bethlehem's Girlfriends, in 1955. Bobby Troup backed London on the dates, and London recorded the standards, "Don't Worry About Me," "Motherless Child," "A Foggy Day," and "You're Blasé."
London's most famous single, "Cry Me a River," was written by her high-school classmate, Arthur Hamilton, and produced by Troup. The recording became a million-seller after its release in December 1955 and also sold on re-issue in April 1983 from the attention brought by a Mari Wilson cover. London performed the song in the film The Girl Can't Help It (1956), and her recording gained later attention in the films Passion of Mind (2000) and V for Vendetta (2006).
Other popular singles include "Hot Toddy," "Daddy," and "Desafinado." Recordings such as "Go Slow" epitomized her career style: her voice is slow, smoky, and sensual.
The song "Yummy Yummy Yummy" was featured on the HBO television series Six Feet Under and appears on its soundtrack album. Her last recording was "My Funny Valentine" for the soundtrack of the Burt Reynolds film Sharky's Machine (1981).
Though primarily remembered as a singer, London also made more than 20 films. Her widely regarded beauty and poise (she was a pinup girl prized by GIs during World War II) contrasted strongly with her pedestrian appearance and streetwise acting technique (much parodied by impersonators). One of her strongest performances came in Man of the West (1958), starring Gary Cooper and directed by Anthony Mann, in which her character, the film's only woman, is abused and humiliated by an outlaw gang.
She performed on many television variety series and also in dramatic roles, including guest appearances on Rawhide (1960) and The Big Valley (1968). Her ex-husband, Webb, was executive producer for the series Emergency!, and in 1972 he hired both his ex-wife and her husband, Troup, for key roles. London received second-billing as nurse, Dixie McCall, while Troup received third-billing as emergency-room physician, Dr. Joe Early. She and her co-stars, Robert Fuller, Randolph Mantooth, and Kevin Tighe, also appeared in an episode of the Webb-produced series, Adam-12, reprising their roles. London and Troup appeared as panelists on the game show Tattletales several times in the 1970s. In the 1950s London appeared in an advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes singing the "Marlboro Song," and in 1978 appeared in television advertisements for Rose Milk Skin Care Cream. Her song "Love Must Be Catchin' On" appeared in the premiere episode of the ABC series Pan Am on Sunday, September 25, 2011.
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5.^ McKnight-Trontz, Jennifer (1999) Exotiquarium: Album Art from the Space Age "St. Martin's Press" p. 77. ISBN 0-312-20133-8.
6.^ "A Small Voice Makes Big Stir" Life, February 18, 1957, p. 74.
7.^ Cason, Buzz (2004) Living the Rock 'N' Roll Dream: The Adventures of Buzz Cason "Hal Leonard." p. 102. ISBN 0-634-06672-2.
8.^ Julie London - Biography
Martin, Douglas (October 19, 2000). "Julie London, Sultry Singer and Actress of 50's, Dies at 74." The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
"A small voice to make a big stir: Julie London gets back to movies". Life: pp. 74–78. February 18, 1957. "Julie London." The Times. October 19, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-25.