Julie Is Still Crying A River

In The Empire Room


THERE WAS A FELLOW, about ten years ago, who used to be seen at Ray's Famous Steaks on Illinois street, a fine restaurant that was replaced by a parking lot which now is being replaced by an office building. This fellow took to sitting in front of the juke box, listening to a recording of Julie London singing "Cry Me a River.” Whether he played it or someone else played it, he listened. And looked sad.

Finally. I asked him: "Are you disappointed In love, Cuz?" He said: "No, I'm unhappily married and I've long been resigned to that. But it's this Julie London. She just makes me want to cry. I don't even know what I want to cry about."

Well, it has been many years since I have heard from this chap, I don't know where he is or what he  is doing, or even if he has gone to his reward. But Julie London is in the Empire Room of the Palmer House. And she's singing "Cry Me a River,” still. And that is the high point of her program.

As a night club correspondent for another newspaper remarked: "She looks like a sexy Alice in Wonderland." (I'm gambling that he won't use that apt description in his own column; that's why I'm borrowing it from him here.)

She sings "My Baby Just Cares For Me," changing the lyric, "My baby don't care for furs and laces'” to "My baby don't care for sports car races," which is a good idea under the circumstances. She sits on the lap of a bald ringsider to sing "Daddy." And she sings of love and she sings the blues. Not all her songs carry enough authority.

Webmaster’s Note: In August, 2009, I spent several days at the Palmer House while on business in Chicago with AlphaGraphics. The grand hotel had recently had something like a billion dollar makeover. As you walk from the elevators to your room, you pass scores of portraits of the stars that entertained in the Empire Room at the hotel during the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. A few feet from my door, hung the portrait you see here of Julie London. She was probably 20 years younger in the picture than when she sang in the Empire Room in the Autumn of 1966.

On one day, there was a luncheon held in the Empire Room. The room impressed me as a perfect venue. Not small and certainly not too big. I could easily imagine Bobby Troup, Julie London and the many other entertainers, getting close to their audience in this elegant, intimate room.

Austin Kearney


The Chicago Daily Tribune

October 2, 1966

By Will Leonard