London in 1958
September 26, 1926
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
|Died||October 18, 2000
Encino, California. U.S.
|Cause of death||Cardiac arrest|
|Occupation||Singer, actress, pin-up model|
|Spouse(s)||Jack Webb (m. 1947–54) (divorced)
Bobby Troup (m. 1959–99) (his death)
Julie London (born Nancy Peck; September 26, 1926 – October 18, 2000) was an American nightclub, jazz and pop singer, film and television actress and a former pinup model, whose career spanned five decades of television. She was noted for her smoky, sensual husky voice and languid demeanor. She released 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950s and 1960s, with her signature song being the classic "Cry Me a River", which she introduced in 1955. She had also appeared as a guest on several talk shows and as a panelist on numerous game shows.
London's 35-year acting career began in films in 1944, and included playing opposite Rock Hudson in The Fat Man (1951), Gary Cooper in Man of the West (1958) and Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959). She achieved continuing success in the 1970s medical drama Emergency! (1972–79), co-starring her real-life husband, Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb, in which London played the female lead role of Nurse Dixie McCall, her last starring role.
An only child, Julie London was born as Nancy Peck on September 26, 1926, in Santa Rosa, California, the daughter of Jack and Josephine Peck, who were a vaudeville song-and-dance team. In 1929, when she was 3 years old, her family moved to San Bernardino, California, where she made her debut singing professionally on her parents' radio program. In 1941, when she was 14, the family moved to Hollywood, California. Shortly after that, she began appearing in movies. She graduated from the Hollywood Professional School in 1945.
London began singing (under the name Gayle Peck) in public in her teens before appearing in 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 album. 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 reissue 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). The song "Yummy Yummy Yummy" was featured on the HBO television series Six Feet Under and appears on its soundtrack album. London's "Must Be Catchin'" was featured in the 2011 premiere episode of the ABC series Pan Am. 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 pin-up 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). On May 28, 1964, London and her husband Bobby Troup recorded a one-hour program for Japanese television in Japan. London sang 13 of her classic songs including "Bye Bye Blackbird", "Lonesome Road", and "Cry Me a River".
London remained close with her ex-husband Jack Webb; in 1972, Webb hired both his ex-wife and her husband, Troup, for starring roles in the TV series Emergency!, in which he served as executive producer. London played head nurse Dixie McCall, while Troup took the role of emergency-room physician Dr. Joe Early. They also appeared in an episode of the Webb-produced series Adam-12, reprising their roles.
The onscreen camaraderie between London, Troup, Randolph Mantooth, and Kevin Tighe (who played Ms. McCall's paramedics, Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto, in the series), carried over into real-life, as well. They all remained close friends long after the series came to a close. In 1977, after a six-year run and 128 episodes, Emergency! was put on hiatus, despite good ratings. London (the only actress to appear in every episode of the series) was invited back for two of the four movie specials, before the show ended for good in 1979. Afterwards, Jack Webb proposed making London an executive producer of possible TV projects, but instead she retired from Hollywood to spend more time with her family.
Randolph Mantooth said in an interview about the first time they met: "She was not impish, nor a diva. She was a soul, kind of mother. She was the kindest person I have ever known." He also added, "I don't know if it was up to her, but Kevin and I were both kept calm by her personality, when we were shooting in the hospital. Only Bobby Troup knew who she was...she was just like Julie! She made us laugh!"
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.
In 1947, London married actor Jack Webb (of Dragnet fame). This pairing arose from their common love of jazz. They had two daughters, Stacy and Lisa Webb. London and Webb divorced in 1954. Daughter Stacy Webb died in a traffic accident in 1996.
In 1959, London married jazz composer and musician Bobby Troup; and they remained married until his death, in 1999. They had one daughter, Kelly Troup, who died in 2002, and twin sons, Jody and Reese Troup. Jody Troup died in 2010. London was also the stepmother of Cynthia and Ronne Troup, Bobby's daughters from his marriage to Cynthia Hare; they are both entertainers.
Later life and death
A private and introverted woman, London, who had been a chain smoker since 16, 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. London was interred next to Troup in the Courts of Remembrance, Columbarium of Providence, at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recording is at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
|1945||Diamond Horseshoe||Chorine||Uncredited|
|1945||On Stage Everybody||Vivian Carlton|
|1946||Night in Paradise||Palace Maiden||Uncredited|
|1947||The Red House||Tibby|
|1948||Tap Roots||Aven Dubney|
|1949||Task Force||Barbara McKinney|
|1950||Return of the Frontiersman||Janie Martin|
|1951||The Fat Man||Pat Boyd|
|1955||The Fighting Chance||Janet Wales|
|1956||Crime Against Joe||Frances 'Slacks' Bennett|
|1956||The Girl Can't Help It||Herself|
|1956||The Great Man||Carol Larson|
|1958||Saddle the Wind||Joan Blake|
|1958||A Question of Adultery||Mary Loring|
|1958||Voice in the Mirror||Ellen Burton|
|1958||Man of the West||Billie Ellis|
|1959||The Wonderful Country||Helen Colton|
|1959||The 3rd Voice||Corey Scott|
|1961||The George Raft Story||Sheila Patton|
|1954||Armstrong Circle Theatre||Episode: "Hit a Blue Note" (5.15)|
|1956||The Rosemary Clooney Show||Episode 2|
|1957||The Ed Sullivan Show||(10.27)|
|1957||Zane Grey Theater||Julie||Episode: "A Time to Live" (1.25)|
|1957||Shower of Stars||Episode: "Jazz Time" (3.7)|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Angela||Episode: "Without Incident (1.36)|
|1957||Person to Person||Season 5 premiere|
|1957||The Big Record||Herself||Episode 3|
|1957–61||What's My Line?||Herself – Mystery Guest||3 episodes|
|1959||The David Niven Show||Maggie Malone||Episode: "Maggie Malone" (1.9)|
|1959||Adventures in Paradise||Dalisay Lynch||Episode: "Mission to Manilla" (1.7)|
|1960||The Red Skelton Hour||Up and Coming Vocalist||Episode: "Clem the Disc Jockey" (9.13)|
|1960||Laramie||June Brown||Episode: "Queen of Diamonds" (2.1)|
|1960||Rawhide||Anne Danvers||Episode: "Incident at Rojo Canyon (3.1)|
|1960||Michael Shayne||Anita||Episode: "Die Like a Dog" (1.3)|
|1960||Dan Raven||June Carey||Episode: "Tinge of Red" (1.12)|
|1961||Hong Kong||Penny Carroll||Episode: "Suitable for Framing" (1.14)|
|1961||The Barbara Stanwyck Show||Julie||Episode: "Night Visitors" (1.14)|
|1961||Checkmate||Libby Nolan||Episode: "Goodbye, Griff" (1.28)|
|1961||Follow the Sun||Jill Rainey||Episode: "Night Song" (1.11)|
|1962||The Jack Benny Program||Herself-Singer||Episode: "March 4, 1962"|
|1963||The Eleventh Hour||Joan Ashmond||Episode: "Like a Diamond in the Sky" (1.19)|
|1963||The Dick Powell Theatre||Linda Baxter||Episode: "Charlie's Duet" (2.25)|
|1965||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Barbara||Episode: "Crimson Witness" (3.12)|
|1965||The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson||Herself – Singer||Episode: "October 19, 1965)|
|1965||I Spy||Phyllis||Episode: "Three Hours on a Sunday Night" (1.12)|
|1967||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Laura Sebastian||Episode: "The Prince of Darkness Affair: Part II" (4.5)|
|1968||The Hollywood Squares||Herself||5 episodes|
|1968||The Big Valley||Julia Saxon||Episode: "They Called Her Delilah" (4.2)|
|1972||Adam-12||Dixie McCall, R.N.||Episode: "Lost and Found" (5.4)|
|1972–78||Emergency!||Dixie McCall, R.N.||126 episodes|
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- For the original niche, see Julie London at Find a Grave. The remains were relocated within the same columbarium. See: Julie London at Find a Grave.