Julie London in LIFE Magazine


A Small Voice Makes Big Stir


Julie London’s soft and husky voice has all Hollywood by the ears. It can sell 800,000 records, keep  a nightclub crowded, make memorable a scene in a movie. “It’s only a thimbleful of voice,” she says, “and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice and it automatically sounds intimate.” Now Julie (see cover) is using her voice to sing her way back to the movie stardom that might have been hers 10 years ago when, a rising young actress, she married Jack (Dragnet) Webb and, shortly afterward, retired.

When the marriage broke up Julie was all but forgotten --- but her evenings were free. “After the children are in bed at 7 what do you do?” she asked. She began singing in a nightclub. Her Cry Me A River was a smash hit, and soon she was a nightclub star, a recording success, an eagerly sought guest on top TV programs. Then, with small roles, the movies welcomed her back. Now, at 30, she has her first really good role. Playing the drunken castoff mistress in José Ferrer’s The Great Man. the story of a lovable radio personality who in real life is a heel, she not only sings excitingly but also shows herself a surprisingly fine actress.

Films Find A Singer

February 18, 1957


Although she was becoming increasingly well known in the movies in 1947 when she married Webb, then a young free-lance radio actor, it was not until her divorce in 1953 that Julie London hit the headlines. Fame came through a half-million-dollar settlement designed to preserve as much of Webb’s Dragnet wealth as possible for their children. On a date, musician Bobby Troup, heard Julie sing ad persuaded her to take a job in a nightclub where she launched the new musical career that enabled her to resume her interrupted career in the movies. 


SINGING IN THE SHEETS on a Sunday morning, Julie carols Eensie Beensie Spider for daughters Stacy (left), 7, and Lisa, 3, while Patsy the dormant dachshund listens. This is children’s hour for Julie. Weekdays, because of her irregular hours in recording studios, they play when they can snatch a chance.

SINGING IN STUDIO, doing Well, Sir for new album, Julie hears her own voice in one earphone and orchestra in next room in other.

SINGING ON SCREEN in her big scene from The Great Man, a tipsy Julie hears her own voice on a recording coming over the radio. She sings dreamily along with herself for a little while, toasts herself and then, after pointing truimphantly, she cries out, “Listen! I have not got a bad voice.”

ON BIGTIME TV Julie is introduced to audience by Bob Hope as “a London in better shape than Paris.” She sang song from her album, Calendar Girl.

DOING A FAVOR for a good friend, Julie helps warm up TV jazz show of her favorite composer, Bobby Troup (back to camera), before program goes on air.

IN CALL FOR TROOPS Julie and bandleader Les Brown do a song during a variety-show radio program designed to drum up Marine Corps enlistments.

END OF AN OLD CAREER seemed final for Julie in 1951 when she and TV actor-husband Jack Webb were proud parents. Here they visited nightclub.

START OF A NEW CAREER as singer took place in Walsh’s, a Hollywood night spot where, accompanied by a bass and guitar, she scored first successes.

For your enjoyment, here’s a good hi-res scan of the Julie London LIFE magazine cover. It was printed over 50 years ago. Drag this image onto your desktop for a copy of your own.