What Am I Doing Here?

 
 
    No one is more surprised to find Julie London
acting in a television series (NBC's Emergency) than Julie London.


"I keep asking myself: What am I doing here?" What's more, she likes it! --- "Even getting up at 5 in the morning. That's when I used to go to bed."


Julie was curled in a wide, low chair in front of the huge stone fireplace in that big house she built for herself and her daughters before she married Bobby Troup. Fact is, they were married in that room---New Year's Eve,1959. Julie had a 103 degree temperature. Turned out she had pneumonia and spent her honeymoon in a hospital.


Now she says she and Bobby would be quite content to spend the rest of their professional lives in the ersatz hospital on Jack Webb's new series, playing, respectively, head nurse Dixie McCall and visiting neurosurgeon Dr. Joe Early.


"It's a way to get off the road," said Julie. "It's a rescue from nightclubs. Bobby and I get up together, go to work together, come home to spend the evening with the kids.”


The big house in Royal Oaks swarms with kids. In addition to Julie's daughters from her marriage to Jack Webb---Stacy, 22, and Lisa, 19---there are the three children of her marriage to Troup: daughter Kelley, 9, and the two-headed identical twins, Jody and Reese, 8. Bobby's children of his previous marriage drop in---Ronne, who plays Polly on My Three Sons, and Cynnie, who works on Adam-12.


Oh, well, when Julie played a thinly disguised replica of Marilyn Monroe in a stunning performance on TV's 11th hour in 1963, she claimed she was nothing like Monroe and had never considered herself a sex symbol---"I'm more the wife and mother type."


Smarts at Snide Crack


Still, she smarts at the snide crack of a gossip columnist that she looked more like the mother than the girlfriend of costar Robert Fuller, the chief surgeon of Emergency. And there was the added observation that Webb possibly cast his ex-wife in the series in lieu of alimony.


"Alimony!" snorted Julie. "Jack hasn't paid me alimony since Bobby and I were married." It was about that time she switched from Cokes to Jack Daniel's.


Fact is. Webb had talked for several years about doing a dramatic series with Julie---"People forget what a helluva actress she is!"


But Julie says: "It was news to me. First I knew about it, Jack called before Thanksgiving and said this part was right for me and he needed an answer before I saw the script and that Bobby would be in it and he had to start shooting in four weeks.


"I had a three-week commitment to sing in Las Vegas at the Tropicana. Bobby was in Las Vegas writing the lyrics to Billy May's music for the new edition of the Follies Bergère, which opened Jan. 1 in the Tropicana. We did it. But I don't know how."


Julie was an actress before she sang a note. She'd made a major splash in a movie called "The Red House" with Edward G. Robinson before she married Webb, then a radio actor (Pat Novak for Hire). She quit acting with the arrival of Stacy. It was after her marriage broke up that she met Troup who persuaded her to try singing. Her record of "Cry Me a River" made history.


'You Know Me and Horses'


She went back to movies with a brilliant performance in "The Great Man," after which, she says, "I did a slew of movies, mostly westerns and you know me and horses---they leave me alone, I leave them alone. There was one good one, 'Man of the West' with Gary Cooper. Had a great script by Reginald Rose. That title killed it."


Julie's done little acting in the last half-dozen years, concentrating on singing ballads on record albums and in clubs and concerts in that smoky voice that can send tremors up the spine. Troup, who guided her musical career, meanwhile has been building quite a reputation as a first-rate film actor. Bobby was the host of the finest jazz show in TV history, the memorable Stars of Jazz.


If the world premiere that launched Emergency seemed more of a training film (for the paramedical program of the Fire Department) than a drama and if it placed more strain on Julie's uniform than her considerable acting talents, it holds promise in the Troup household.


"I never expected to be here," said Julie, "but now that we're here, I hope we stay."

 

Los Angeles Times

Tuesday - February 1, 1972

By Cecil Smith