Sunday 4 January 2009

Julie London

Julie London was born in Santa Rosa, California on the 26th September 1926 and died in October 2000, after a stroke in 1995, in California.

Her parents were vaudeville artists.

Julie London had been a bit part player in movies during the forties when she became one of the pin up girls for the American G.Is during the second world war.

In the fifties she was 'discovered' by Alan Ladd's wife Sue Carol who was an agent who revitalised Julie London's career.

As an actress she appeared in several movies and, probably, her best role was in the Gary Cooper movie 'Man Of The West' (1958), directed by Anthony Mann, where Julie played the only female role.
She guest starred in several TV series like 'Rawhide', 'Laramie' and 'The Big Valley' as well as classics like 'I Spy' and 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'. Between 1972 and 1979 Julie London was better known as Dixie McCall RN in the series 'Emergency' in which she starred with her second husband Bobby Troup.
Her first husband was 'Dragnet' star Jack Webb.

Julie London, though, is not remembered just as an actress but for her cool, smoky and sensual singing voice with a range that covered blues and jazz.
'Cry Me A River' is her best known and only million selling disc - not only did she sing it in the 1956 movie 'The Girl Can't Help It' but has turned up in the soundtrack of other movies - the latest being 2006's 'V For Vendetta'.

My own interest in Julie London, the singer, stems from a 1957 Alan Ladd film 'Boy On A Dolphin'. It was a track that had been requested on the BBC Radio show 'Family Favourites'. I was thirteen at the time but Julie London made an impression on me. Believe it or not I did not hear 'Cry Me A River' until the following year during a music class at school.

During her career Julie London has recorded over 30 albums that have included songs that she has composed herself as well as classic tracks. Tracks like Sinatra's 'Fly Me To The Moon', Nat 'King' Cole's ' When I Fall In Love' and Marylin Monroe's 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend' - and each one Julie London has made her own.

She reckoned that she couldn't sing - a 'thimbleful' she called it - and had to get up close to the microphone to make herself heard. When compared to Monroe, Julie London denied being a 'sex symbol' and just described herself as an ordinary housewife who's family came first before her showbiz career.

Maybe, but Julie London has left a legacy of songs that always remind me of black and white movies and smoky dance halls - and a talent that is missed.


David Cranmer said...

Ray, You have selected my next listening purchase. I grew up watching Julie London on Emergency! but have never bought one of her albums. I'm currently listening to Sinatra and Diana Krall so she will fit in nicely. Thanks.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember men in my childhood who were gaga over her.

Ray said...

David - good choice. I like Dianna Krall as well. There is a slight similarity so Julie London should fit in quite well.

Patti - yes, Julie London was a pin up girl. Though, when you look at some of the covers for the old pulp novels the models on some resemble Julie London. Another who seemed to crop up were covers that looked like Jane Russell. I don't think these guys were stupid - scantily clad females with faces of the stars - they knew what they were doing.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I always had a thing for Jane Russel myself

David Cranmer said...

Ray, thanks. I picked up a London collection yesterday and I'm hooked.