LIKE A LIONESS ON A LEASH

 
 
   “The Julie London image,” she says, “and I’m afraid there is such a thing, has been set by the style of the album covers and the style of my singing appearances. That’s the way TV producers think of me. Sometimes I think they tend to measure an actress’s talents by her-uh-measurements. If the measurements go beyond a certain point, they figure she can't possibly act. So I get cast as 'the other woman' or the sultry night-club singer." Those "measurements" (5-feet-3; 37-23-36 and 110 pounds) do not tell the story of Miss London.

    What separates her from the run-of-the-mill measurement girls is her face. She has the kind of face that is variously described as sultry, smoky, compelling or, to come right out with it, sexy. Her cheekbones are high; her eyes large, blue-gray and wide-set; the nose, forehead and neck are right out of the classic mold, and her mouth is full. At 34, she is just now reaching the peak of her beauty.

    Place these attributes atop the aforementioned physical dimensions, throw in a mane of yellow-brown hair, add a quite good talent for both acting and singing and you arrive at what one observer has referred to. As "a rich man's Jayne Mansfield. The only other girl in Hollywood you can compare her to is Lola Albright-they both have that same subdued, tawny quality, like a lioness on a leash."

    (The comparison with Lola Albright is an interesting one. Both are recording singers, both are actresses, both were first married to actors, both are now married to musicians, and both are almost bluntly outspoken.)


TELEVISION, A MAN'S WORLD


    While the public is inclined to think of Julie London only as a singer (12 albums plus one of the hit singles of the past decade, "Cry Me a River"), she was an actress first and still likes to consider herself as such. Since last November, for example, she has appeared in a total of 10 TV shows, singing in only three of them, acting in six. (On the "Bob Hope Sports Awards" special she was a presenter.)

    As for her acting career, she recognizes that "Television is a man's world. There just aren't many good scripts for women, and I'm not the one they send them to. What I’d really like to do is have my own anthology series and star in maybe one out of every four. But I'm too realistic to think anybody is going to offer me that."

    Julie's biggest frustration came with a recent Checkmate guest-starring role. She had to throw a fit of hysterics for six different camera angles, a scene which occupied almost an entire day of shooting. "They wound up using about 10 seconds of it," she says. "What are you going to do?"

    Julie got her start as an actress 18 years ago when she was discovered by agent Sue Carol (Mrs. Alan Ladd) operating an elevator in a men's clothing store in Hollywood. Nobody believes this story the first time he hears it but Julie is wearily adamant about it. "I'm sorry," she says, "but that's the way it happened and I'm stuck with it. Maybe one of these days I'll dream up something more exciting."


HER MARRIAGE T0 JACK WEBB


      Four years later she married a then struggling young radio actor named Jack Webb whom she had known in high school. ("I was kind of a wallflower in high school-crooked teeth, freckles and sort of too moodily mature for my age. I either scared boys away or they just plain didn't like me, I don't know which.")

    The marriage to Webb, who a few years later became both rich and famous as Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet, lasted seven years, a period of time during which Julie forgot her career and had two children: Stacy, now 11, and Lisa, 8. It was a good marriage until Dragnet turned Webb into both a celebrity and a demon for work.

    "Julie," a friend says, "had given up her career for a home, but when Dragnet hit, it just wasn't a home any more. Jack became obsessed with the show. What it amounted to---Julie had a house, two children and no husband."

    Shortly after the divorce in 1953, Julie met pianist-composer Bobby Troup. He encouraged her to sing. Her first record, ironically titled "Cry Me a River," was even more ironic in its origins. It had been written by a young, unknown songwriter named Arthur Hamilton, an old high school friend of Julie's. Julie had long been convinced he was talented and had talked Webb into signing him to a personal contract.

    "Arthur wrote 'Cry Me a River' for Sarah Vaughan," Julie says, "whom Jack was considering for 'Pete Kelly's Blues.' When Sarah dropped out of the picture I took the song to Liberty Records. I think it sold something like 1,000,000 copies the first time around and its total sale to date, including the album, is around 1,500,000. Anyway, I'm still getting royalties from it."

    The London-Troup twosome became a familiar item in the Hollywood gossip columns, but they didn't get married until Dec. 31, 1959. ("It was probably the longest engagement in Hollywood history. We'd each been married before and neither of us wanted to make another mistake.")

    While not a dedicated actress, Julie nonetheless considers it her work, has a full-time agent, a press agent and a normal desire to do the best she can. A total of 15 motion pictures (her biggest role was in "The Great Man," with Jose Ferrer) and upwards of 50 TV shows (including Playhouse 90, Zane Grey Theater and all the top musical-variety shows from Dinah Shore to Ed Sullivan) would seem to be a fair indication that her talents have not all been entirely lost on producers.

    "All I really want," she says, "is what every other girl in this town wants-a really good script."

 

Julie London is frustrated by her own sultry ‘image’

TV Guide

July 15 - 21, 1961