Singer Julie London Stars

In Amazing Flip of Careers

 
 
HOLLYWOOD, Feb. 23 (AP) Three years ago Julie London was known as Jack Webb’s former wife.

Now they sometimes refer to Webb around town as singer Julie London’s former husband.

That just about tells the story of an amazing flip of careers since the beautiful Julie and Sgt. Friday were divorced in November 1953.

Then she was just a gorgeous gal with two small daughters and a half-million dollar alimony settlement. She had once been an actress, but her singing had been largely confined to the shower.

Today she is one of the nation’s top female vocalists, and a movie actress much in demand.

Caption: Singer Julie London relaxes on the bed in her Sherman Oaks, Calif., home. A similarly pretty pose on the cover of her latest album, “Calendar Girl,” hasn’t hurt sales any. AP Newsfeatures photo.

SUCCESS  STORY

In Las Vegas, her act commands $10,000 a week. Her very first record, “Cry Me A River,” sold more than a million copies. Her first album, “Julie Is Her Name,” was the nations top selling album for five straight weeks and wound up seventh for 1956, even in the year of Presley.

Her new album, “Calendar Girl,” in which she sings a song for every month of the year is selling even faster. Its cover depicting Julie in a dozen revealing cheesecake photos, has done the sale no harm. Liberty records, a little known label, was pushed into a major spot in the industry by her success.

On the other hand, there was no hotter property in television in 1953 than Jack Webb. His “Dragnet” battled “I Love Lucy” for the top rated show, week after week. Then along came CBS with “Climax,” a drama series that finally cut “Dragnet” out of the top-10 list. This year Webb produced and directed “Noah’s Ark,” a series about veterinarians and animal patients. It didn’t catch on, and is being dropped.

“I’M ONLY HUMAN”

How does Julie feel about the reverse twist on her---and Webb’s---careers?

“I don’t cheer anyone’s bad luck,” she answers, “least of all, the man who is father of my two girls. Yet, I would be lying if I said there was no self-satisfaction. I am only human. There’s bound to be some elation.

“I guess any divorced woman would understand how I feel.”

Julie and Webb were married for seven years. She was a successful contract player at Universal-International Studios with a number of roles to her credit. Webb worked steadily as a radio actor but was a comparative unknown at the time.

JULIE HAS BOYFRIEND

Julie gave up her career to become a wife and mother and Webb zoomed to fame with “Dragnet.” When she won her divorce she testified that “Jack was married to ‘Dragnet’ not me.”

Webb later married actress Dorothy Towne. Julie has not remarried, although her steady boy friend is composer-pianist Bobby Troup.

Troup, who describes himself as the only saloon pianist with a Phi Beta Kappa Key, is the composer of such hits as “Route 66,” “Daddy” and “Julie Is Her Name,” dedicated to you know whom.

She credits the onetime University of Pennsylvania jazz combo leader for the upsurge of her singing career.

THROATY SINGER

“She used to sing around the piano at home,” Troup remembers. “She had an unusual throaty quality about her singing --- and what’s more she hit every note right on the button, more than you can say for most present day singers. I urged her to try singing but she wasn’t too keen about it.”

One night she and Troup were in an intimate night club off the Sunset Strip --- so intimate that it was no bigger than a good sized living room.

“If I ever sing in a club, I’d like a place like this,” she said. Troup talked to owner John Walsh who figured---and rightly so---that there would be box office draw in the singing debut of Jack Webb’s former wife.

Both Troup and Walsh worked with Julie and when the big night came, she was so nervous that she forgot the words to a couple of her songs. Right in the middle, she stopped and flatly told the audience so.

START OF SUCCESS

“The audience thought it was cute,” one first nighter recalls.

“And everybody started feeding her the lyrics from their tables. It went over big. I’m surprised she doesn’t keep it in her act now.”

Her engagement was a big success, both for Walsh and also for Julie’s confidence.

Julie’s range is not great but then neither is Bing Crosby’s. Her voice is not powerful like Kay Starr’s or Judy Garland’s but as one well known singer comments:

“Julie has good pitch, she whispers a song---almost makes love with a melody—and has a style so torchy that it reminds you of the late Helen Morgan.


BARELY LOST OUT

   

    And that’s not bad. In fact, in casting the singer to play the late Ziegfeld star on the screen, Julie barely lost out.

    Director Mike Curtiz interviewed hundreds in the biggest casting search since Scarlett O’Hara.

    “The two finest tests of all were Ann Blyth and Julie,” said Curtiz. “What decided in favor of Ann was the exploitation value of the shock casting. As everyone knows Ann has led a life entirely different from the tragic life of Helen Morgan but Julie’s test convinced me that she is going to be one of the movies’ biggest stars before long.

    She can sing, act and what a sexy figure, adds Curtiz. What more can you ask in a movie star?”

 

The Milwaukee Sentinel

Saturday - February 23, 1957

By Jams Bacon