Julie London, Torn Between Singing and Acting,

Tries Hand at Western

 
 
JULIE LONDON is a smallish, vigorous lass with freckles splashed across her nose. She laughs a lot and her blue eyes dance. Her blond hair cascades down to her shoulders like a golden waterfall.


She likes cool jazz and dachshunds and the blackjack tables at Las Vegas, where she never wins. She trembles all over when she has to report to a set for a movie or TV film.


Live television literally terrifies her. She's equally afraid of nightclub audiences---“I don't like anything live but people and dogs," she says.


Career Skyrockets


In the flamboyant world of show business, she seems an unlikely headliner. Yet at the moment the career of Julie London is jumping. Scripts pile up for her to read. Recording dates and guest appearances on TV fill her calendar. The mail is full of offers from nightclubs.


If she has one problem, it is this: "Am I an actress or a singer?"


A year ago, shortly after her astonishing comeback via record albums and supper clubs, this was no problem---"I'm no singer," she told me last fall. "I have no voice." But now, with the records continuing to sell like hot cakes, with more albums turning up for an eager public, she wonders.


Begins Film Role


She's an actress this week, at any rate. She costars with Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan in the Playhouse 90 production of "Without Incident" Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 2. This is a tale of the cavalry in the 1870s filmed at Tucson by that master of frontier stories, Charles Marquis (Bill) Warren, the man who developed TV's

Gunsmoke.


Last week she left town for Colorado to begin acting in a new MGM picture, "Three Guns," written by television's Emmy-winning Rod Serling, author of "Requiem for a Heavyweight."


"Both are westerns - but different," says Julie. "Westerns---I should never do westerns. Don't breathe it to a soul but I'm scared to death of horses."


She laughs and adds: "I play a wanton in ‘Without Incident.' Funny, I always think of myself as a housewife type and I'm always cast as a bad, wild girl."


Urged to Sing


Julie once quit show business without regrets to be a housewife and mother. She was a promising young actress on her way up when she met and married a struggling young actor named Jack Webb. She quit to run his home and rear their two children, Stacy, 6, and Lisa, 3. But as Webb got deeper into television---as the perfectionist director, producer and star of Dragnet---the marriage dissolved. Julie was left in a terrible void with no career and no marriage.


Then she began to sing. She'd never sung before in public. A youthful, intellectual musician named Bobby Troup persuaded her to stand before a microphone and give her whispered, haunted versions of the words of songs to the throbbing air.


Her smoky voice sent chills down male spines and her albums---“Julie Is Her Name," "Lonely Girl" and "Calendar Girl"--became enormous best sellers. Two more are now being released, "About the Blues" and "London by Night."


Still, Julie insisted: "I'm an actress, not a singer," and she proved it with her memorable performance in "The Great Man."


Julie plans a second marriage, sometime this summer --- to the man who gave her a voice, Bobby Troup. Meanwhile, Bobby has plunged deep into television with his Emmy-winning jazz show, Stars of Jazz.


Actress or singer---it's not a problem that worries Julie greatly. She says that if she could lay out a blueprint for her career she would like a musical series on television, just singing, and act in pictures when a good role comes along.


She recently filmed a half-hour musical show in color for the new Frances Langford series which she hopes may serve as a pilot for a series of her own.

 

Los Angeles Times

Sunday - June 2, 1957

By Cecil Smith