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Julie Peck
Julie London
October 18, 2000
Age 74 
  
 
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Gordon's Pick: Time for Love: Best of Julie London
 
 
 
 

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NY TIMES

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.

  
"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.  ~ E Online

     
    Julie London; Torch Singer, Movie and Television Actress 

                                            By MYRNA OLIVER, LA Times Staff Writer

 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.
                                              

 
       
 

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All-Music Guide 
        Born: Sept. 26, 1926 
        Died: October 18, 2000 
         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, Easy Does It, in 1967, she continued to act -- playing a nurse on the NBC medical drama Emergency from 1974-78. 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. -- Alex Henderson
 
 
  
 
 

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