Julie London: She Can Settle Down Now Thanks To Emergency

    Julie London has traveled and worked all over the world, but it took an emergency to get her settled down at home. It was, in fact, not an emergency, but the Emergency---NBC's Saturday night paramedic action series of the same title which will start its third season this fall on the network.

    Sitting in a low chair in a spacious room of her home in the San Fernando Valley, dressed casually in jeans and T-shirt, Julie left no doubt that she likes being grounded. She was weary of traveling, she said, and wanted the opportunity to stay home with her family: husband Bobby Troup (who is one of her co-stars on Emergency) and their children, daughter Kelly, 12, and twin sons Jody and Reese, 11. Julie also has two daughters from her marriage to Jack Webb, Stacy, 24, and Lisa, 21.

    As it happens, it is Webb's Mark VII Productions which produces Emergency at Universal in association with NBC. And, says Julie, it was Webb's idea to cast her and Bobby in the series. "Jack brought the whole thing about," she recalled, adding that, "the series has been great for us. Now, we don’t have to go on the road. It's taken Bobby out of clubs and it's taken me out of clubs.”

    But she recalls that the switch from Julie London, singer, to Julie London, actress in the role of head nurse, was a bit frantic because she was appearing in Las Vegas right up until time to start working on the new series.

    "That was a roughie," she smiled. "Basically, you see, I'm a night person…all those years working in clubs and in Vegas where you don't get to bed until 5 or 6 a.m. So there I was working in Vegas and not getting to I bed until early in the morning. Then, in the space of a couple of days, I had to turn myself completely around and get up at 5 a.m. to go to work at the studio. What made it even worse was that we were doing both the World Premiere movie of 'Emergency' and the first episode of the series at the same time. I thought I'd lose my mind trying to get turned around."

    Emergency, it might be noted, came on NBC at midseason in 1972 and was slotted against the CBS powerhouse, All in the Family. To NBC's delight, it gradually found its own loyal audience and started posting respectable ratings. One reason often cited for its success is that it has become very popular with younger viewers.

    "I think kids find appeal in the action of the show," Julie reasoned, "the fire engines, the sirens, the equipment, the work of the paramedics. It’s complete action, and they like that.”

    She went on to say how they strive for accuracy on Emergency. "All of the scripts are gone over by a paramedic on the set. And we are coached in the various medical procedures so that we are always correct. If we do a spinal, for instance, we go through exactly the same motions that they would in a real hospital."

  There can be problems, however. One, she said, is trying for accurate pronunciation of medical terms . . . especially when there is a difference of opinion. (She says she goes with the pronunciation given her by the producer.) Then there's the problem of "those darned rubber gloves. I always try to have the gloves on before they start shooting a scene," Julie explained, "because I've had too many times when the cameras were rolling and I couldn't 'pop' them on, which meant the scene had to be done over again." She avoids that hassle now by "pre-gloving.”

    Emergency just resumed shooting after a hiatus, a period which Julie used to rest and relax at home. She mentioned that "I'm on a health kick now, so I started going to a spa every day. I felt that I was sitting around stagnating. You know, on the set you sit around waiting for the next scene, and I'm not that well disciplined. I mean, why walk to the commissary for lunch when you can take a car? So I've been going to the spa every day to exercise and it's made me feel great."

    And unlike other TV performers who seize the hiatus time away from their series to appear elsewhere, Julie didn't take on any musical or club dates during her vacation from Emergency.” I have no desire to do it," said the actress who shot to fame as a singer with her first record, "Cry Me a River." “I suppose it's silly financially not to cash in on something while the series is on hiatus, or to use the time off to work somewhere. But the thought of working in a club sends chills up my spine!"

    The one thing she'd "really love to do,” she said, is a straight musical special…"a one-shot, where you could really work a long time preparing it so that it would be special." Asked why she hasn't done it, the surprising answer came back, "because no one has asked me."

    "I have done some specials that I really enjoyed," she continued, "but often shows are put together too quickly. You have to have time to prepare." She feels it would be possible to do such a program in addition to working on Emergency.

    Is there any other field she'd like to try? "I like to do anything if it's interesting," she replied. "But everything starts with the script. If that's good, then the end result will be good. It's the same with a record. If it's a good piece of material, I can't wait to do it. But if it's bad, I hate it. I think," she emphasized, "that writers are the most under-rated people in the industry."

    For now, she finds everything calm and cool on Emergency. "You'd think with five principal players (Robert Fuller, Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe in addition to Julie and Bobby) everyone would be stepping on everyone else's toes. But it's a great group. There's a lot of humor on our set and a lot of horsing around.” It's definitely an Emergency Julie London can handle.



Los Angeles Times

Sunday - June 16, 1974