Miss Julie London

 
 
It's our pleasure to be sitting with a little lady who is very popular with all
of our listeners. To my way of thinking, her beauty is much more than skin deep. it shows in the beauty of her voice and in her performance of great songs.

A. Well, thank you, Martin. Those are very nice words.

Q. Do you think that your, we'll be conservative, that your attractive looks had anything whatsoever to do with your success as a singer?                                     

  1. A.I think the first album cover was considered most provocative. It was that. And I think that contributed a great deal.


Q. In other words, you think that your looks and the album cover helped to open the door for you and once you got in, of course, it's the old saying anyone can open the door for you, but once you get your foot in, you're on your own.

A. Well, that is true.

Q. Did you study singing?             

A. No.

Q. In other words, your singing is just absolutely natural?

A. Just me.

Q. Just doing what comes naturally?

A. Of course, I'm sure any vocal teacher that listens to me would rather cut my throat than do anything. I do everything all wrong, but I think for me that's the best, because I don't think I have a voice so I think what I project would be style and if I learned to sing, I'd lose my style.

Q. But you'd never lose your audience.  Voice or no voice, style or no style, all Julie London has to do is stand in front of the microphone and . . . wow!

A. That's a nice thing to say.

Q. Well, when a woman is as beautiful as you are, Julie, it's easy to say nice things. Julie London makes for mighty easy listening.  And we're doing that listening out here in the home of Julie London and Bobby Troup in Sherman Oaks . . . this is Sherman Oaks, isn't it?

A. I think it's Encino, it's on the line, separated by one block or something.

Q. Well, we'll cal it Encino - Sherman Oaks so that we don't make any enemies in either town. Julie, who furnished this place?  Who does it reflect?

A. Bobby and I did it ourselves.

Q. No decorators?

A. No.

Q. You just decided this was what you wanted?

A. Yes, I think sometimes you kind of lose yourself in someone else's personality if you call in someone else to do it. I think homes should reflect the individuals and their individual taste rather than someone else's.  

  1. A.You're so right. And in this lovely home there are many beautiful rooms, drawing rooms and dining rooms but, as usual in everybody's home, we've gravitated right to what I guess you'd call the rec-room.

[This is a 1962 photograph taken in what her family called “Julie’s Room.”]

A. Un-huh

Q. I'm curious. How big is this room, Julie?

A. I think it's about thirty-by-forty feet, something like that.

Q. Thirty-by-forty, a nice small room where you can put on earphones and listen to the stereo, hum?

A. Very cozy.

Q. A great open fireplace, very delightful.

A. I think so, yes.

Q. It's always a pleasure to sit and talk to you and listen to you sing. And, by the way, when you first started singing, was it as an amateur or as a professional?

 A. I guess as a professional. Actually, I'd been an actress for some time and then I'd retired for about six or seven years. Then coming back to the business, I found that I was sort of not quite a has-been, and it wasn't a new career, and it was just kind of difficult to crack the nut, so to speak.

Q. So that was when Bobby stepped in and said, "Well, why not try a different approach?' Then the idea of the type of singing that you're so well known for now came from Bobby Troup?

A. Well, not exactly. I just sort of did what I had always done just sitting on the living room floor at night, only this time you sat up on a stool. We moved the living room into the club.

Q. And that, if you'll pardon the pun, helped to make the audience feel right at home?

A. Oh, well, I hope so.

A. Julie, what have you got planned in the way of work?

A. I think in this business, it's difficult to make plans. I think the plans follow you and find you. Whatever comes along, I think any entertainer just sort of goes along with. I think it's really impossible to project ahead even six months in this business.

Q. In other words, you can't just go to you manager and say, 'Hey, Joe’, I don't know his name, but you can't say, 'Hey, Joe, get me a picture,' or 'Joe, get me a television show; I want to do a lot of work in TV.’ You have to wait until they tap you on the shoulder?

A. I think so, yes.

Q. You've appeared in Europe?

A. No.

Q. Never sang over there?

A. No.

Q. Well, Bobby's been there, hasn't he?  He's played there.

A. No, he hasn't performed there, either. We've performed in South America and in Japan.

Q. Oh, well, then, you were across the ocean, but not the way I was thinking. I know in my travels through England and the Continent your albums and your songs are most popular and I was just wondering if you had made, or were going to make that a trip. Anything like that in the future?

A. No, but I certainly would like to go if it were a long trip. I wouldn't want to go puddle-jumping. Two weeks in the Palladium and spend fifteen days there, something where I could take my children along and let them get the benefit of it. Where we'd be in one place long enough to do that.

 Q. Well, unfortunately, that's the problem when an artist is in demand as you are, is it that there are so many bookings that you just never can get settled down in one place. You've appeared just about everywhere, including a White House performance. You know, I've often wondered, Julie, how do you get these invitations? I've never been invited.

A. Darned if I know. This is the one appearance that I made for President Kennedy. He, as I understand, had his choice or was asked to make a list of the people he would like to have perform and I was fortunate enough to be one of them.

Q. In other words, President Kennedy picked you.

A. Yes, I believe so and I must say, he had good judgment in more than one way. He was a marvelous man to perform for because he was most interested in music of all kinds.

Q. For some reason or other, I have the idea that these kinds of things at the White House would be rather stodgy or even the Press Ball would be rather stodgy, that everybody would be constricted and a little bit worried about whowas listening and that they didn't make any mistakes.  Did you find it that way?

A. I think we were all terribly nervous.

Q. You were?

A. More so. It was a pretty large audience as far as the personnel was concerned and I must admit that we all had a flutter or two.  But the people themselves were so nice that that was quickly forgotten and everybody relaxed and had a wonderful time.

 Q. You said you were terribly nervous about getting up in front of all those dignitaries. Do you still get butterflies when you perform?

A. I think that first five minutes, the five minutes just before you go on, is terrifying. I don't think a performance has ever gone by during that time that I said, 'What in the world am I doing in this business?  Why am I putting myself through this torture?" But the minute I'm on, it seems to disappear.

A very well known psychiatrist explained the thing to me. I guess it could be regarded from a psychiatric viewpoint. He said, 'Every good performer must of necessity have a good imagination.'  If you have imagination and you're gong to perform at something like the affair for the President, you immediately have in the back of your mind, 'Suppose I forget the words? Suppose I start off flat or sharp?'

  1. Q.Un huh

A. This is your imagination running away with you. But if you don't have that imagination, nothing will ever happen for you.  At least that's the way it was explained to me.  And I guess it all happened for you.

That's a very interesting observation because I think the one thing I always think about is, what if I forget the words?  What if I do?  In fact, I've even gone so far to think if I do, are there some kind of words I could make up easily?

 

March 1966

Interview By Martin Block


This is a transcript of an interview with Julie London done by disc jockey, Martin Block, for his radio program. The discussion ranges from decorating her home, Julie’s return to show business after her divorce and performing for President Kennedy.


Since this was a radio interview, there obviously weren’t any photographs. Using the miracle of web design and the internet, I have now crafted the first radio interview, complete with relevant photographs on the topics discussed.

Martin Block

President John F. Kennedy welcoming Julie London to the White House Correspondents Dinner February 25, 1961.