Julie London

Career Soars Like Balloon

 
 
     "Whenever I talk about your career," I said to Julie London, "I have the feeling you consider the whole thing---the singing, the acting, the works---some kind of a monstrous joke. That you think of it as a big, shining, bouncing balloon that someone, at any moment, may touch a lighted cigarette to and the whole filling will go up in a puff of smoke."


"Sure," said Julie, laughing, the huge gray eyes dancing. "It's all a fluke. I'm going to wake up one morning and find it all gone."


She hugs her bare legs, a magnificently assembled blond child in a harlequin play suit curled in a massive chair in the big all-purpose room in her Valley home. Timmy, a German shepherd the size of a middle-sized bear, lies on the hooked rug at her feet, gazing at her with adoring eyes.


Faith in Career Shaky but

Pins Hopes on Building Home


        One of the dachshunds chased his tail in a corner. Neither the other dachshund nor the basset hound" was around, but Julie's daughters, Stacy and Lisa Webb, thundered back and forth between their bedroom and the kitchen like a pair of jet-propelled Botticelli angels.


"When I get this feeling," said Julie, "that it's all going to vanish, I set little goals for myself. The current goal---the house I'm building in Royal Oaks. I pray the Lord: 'Let nothing happen 'til the house is finished.' "


This is curious kind of talk, because if Julie's career is a flimsy and unsubstantial balloon, it's one caught in a jet stream. She has always said that she can't sing, but the albums that carry her husky, smoky voice continue to sell like the proverbial hotcakes (and that voice still sends shivers down many a male spine, including mine).


She lays no claims to being a Bernhardt or Duse but she's just finished one movie, opposite Gary Cooper in "Man of the West"; she's currently at MGM working in another, playing the quadroon wife of John Drew Barrymore in "Night of the Quarter Moon," and when it is finished she leaves for Mexico to do a western with Robert Mitchum, tentatively titled "Wonderful Country."


Furthermore, the TV offers are piling up---and she continues to turn them down.


     Julie's second career continues to astonish her. She was an actress climbing the film ladder when she met and married Jack Webb. After their divorce, when she was at loose ends wondering what shape her  life would take --- "Your ego takes such a helluva beating when your marriage breaks up"---she began singing in a La Cienega night

club, made her first album, "Julie Is Her Name,” and her first movie, "The Great Man,” and suddenly found herself a star.


'Men Get All Good

Parts in the Movies'


As for her career, two things seriously concern her:


"I missed an era, No one is making big musicals these days and I would love to do a musical.”


“Moreover, in movies it's become a man's world. No parts are being written for women---men get all the good parts."


She's starred in half a dozen movies since "The Great Man"---still her favorite---and there's only one she likes very much, "Voice in the Mirror," a story of

Alcoholics Anonymous, "which is dying in the theaters."


"Something happens between what you read in a script and what appears on the screen---at least, in pictures I've made." she said. "I've agreed to do pictures because they had wonderful scripts, I loved them. Scripts like Rod Serling's 'Saddle the Wind' and Reginald

Rose's 'Man of the West.' But something always seems to happen; they water them down until the thing I loved just isn't there anymore."


She was remembering making "The Great Man."


Intended to Phone,

Couldn't Do It


        "I was so afraid." she said, "I agreed to do the picture because I had such admiration for José Ferrer. But on the morning the picture was to start I went to the telephone to call him and tell him I couldn't do it.

Just to be fair about it. But then I didn't call.


"Sometimes you sit here and wonder which way to go, what you should do with your career and your life. You see so many opportunities in TV, you don't want to miss them, but…Do you want to do a series? It is financially the best thing for you? So hard to say.


Will Never Leave

Girls Home Again


"You know, I made four pictures in a row without a week off. I was working so hard I got so I didn't know what picture I was in till I got on the set. Yet with taxes the way they are it's amazing how little all that work meant to me and the girls financially.


"I made a picture in England---left the girls home. I was so lonely, missed them so much. Never again. They’re going with me to Mexlco.”


The two girls swooped in like a pair of Stukas dive-bombing the dachshund.


"Eighty-six --- both of you," said Julie. "or you don't go to Mexico,"


        The girls laughed. I laughed. After a while Julie began laughing. And the shining balloon soared…and soared.

 

Los Angeles Times

Sunday - September 21, 1958

By Cecil Smith, Times Entertainment Editor