Troups Still Troupers in New Roles

 
 
Millions of television viewers remember them for their roles in the series “Emergency.” For seven years during the 1970s, the lives of Bobby Troup, who played Dr. Early, and Julie London (Dixie McCall) gravitated around the show.

Relatively few in their vast audience knew much about their previous careers --- hers as a sultry movie actress and intimate-voiced recording star, whose “Cry Me A River” propelled her to the charts in 1955: his as a night club singer and pianist, whose compositions alone had earned him a lasting reputation: “Route 66,” “Girl Talk,” “The Meaning of the Blues” and others that became pop or jazz standards.

Now, after a long hiatus since the show went off the air, they are both back. Troup just played his first night club dates in 11 years, at Donte’s and the Ol’ New Yorker here. More auspiciously, he was commissioned to contribute (in collaboration with Snuff Garrett and two others) five songs to the Burt Reynolds movie, ”Sharky’s Machine,” due out in December.



Troup has reason to believe that the songs will constitute one of the most valuable sound track albums ever recorded, since they were performed by Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Joe Williams, the Manhattan Transfer and Troup himself.

His wife’s return to activity has taken on an unpredicted twist. After all those years before the lenses in films or television, Julie London will position herself on the other side of the camera.

“I took out an option on a book, a first novel by Enid Harlow called ‘Crashing.’ I just fell in love with it,” Miss London said.

Troup explained: “There is a part in it that could be for Julie, but she doesn’t want to act any more.”

Mrs. Troup, wearing a lavender sweater that she took less than a week to knit, looks not an eyelash less striking than when she was making movies, or singing in a recording studio. Now as then, she has zero ego. Downgrading her achievements in a tone of mild sarcasm seems to afford her genuine pleasure.

Even her best known association, the “Emergency” series, seems less than meaningful in retrospect.

“A show of that kind takes away your creativity, your motivation,” she said. “The dialog was mainly surgical and medical; there was no chance to really play a scene with anyone. That moment when you do a scene and you know you’ve played the hell out of it --- well, this can urge you on to do more and better; but when you do the same thing all the time, you lose that drive.”

Troup expanded the point: “Personally I love doing the show, because I enjoy being active, and because of the camaraderie --- we were known as the happiest crew at Universal, Jack Webb’s original concept was to get Julie into romantic scenes in which she could wear lovely clothes instead of the nurse’s uniform; but when Universal found out that the kids were more interested in the sirens and the red fire engines, the medical part got cut down and cut down until we didn’t have that much to do.”

When there was no more “Emergency,” the Troups found themselves enjoying a welcome sense of freedom from responsibility.

“I had stopped performing in clubs when we got the parts in the show,” “Troup recalled. “After all, it’s a bit difficult to work in a room until 2 a.m. and then have to get up at 5 a.m. for a studio call.”

Since 1977, they have taken life easy.

“Mainly it’s been a royal treat for the two of us,” Mrs. Troup said, “being able to spend a lot of time with the kids, which is really important to us both, and which we’re still doing.”

The kids are hardly kids any more. “We’re a his-mine-and-ours family,” she said. Troup’s two oldest are by his first marriage: Cynnie, 38, who, is, he attests, “one of the best script supervisors in town,” and Ronnie, 36. Julie’s children by her marriage to Jack Webb (who has remained a close friend of both Troups) are Stacy, 31, and Lisa, 28. The “ours” children are Kelly Troup, 19, and the twin boys Reese and Jody, 18.

“Kelly and Stacy and Jody are all very much into music and writing lyrics,” Julie said. “One night Kelly and I were alone, just gabbing, and she said she’d been doing a little writing. I asked to see it, and she came out with a whole book. I was astounded, it was so brilliant.”

“The kids write contemporary lyrics,” said Troup. “They have depth. Nobody’s climbing in and out of the sack, they have real messages,” Miss London added.

Julie London is a member of ASCAP along with Troup. “At my insistence, Troup said, “she wrote the title song for a picture she was in at Universal called ‘The Voice in the Mirror.” It was one of Hank Mancini’s first real scoring credits, and God bless him, he used it all through the picture.”

Troup’s enthusiasm over his wife’s talents reflects the extent to which their personalities dovetail. They are the perfect example of the axiom that opposites attract: he outgoing and eager, she introverted and minimally self-confident.

After a 5-year courtship, the two were married on New Year’s Eve of 1959. Over the years the Troups have settled into what appears to be one of Hollywood’s best marriages: they share a comfortable home in the suburbs, a sense of humor, a love of music, and an abiding passion for children and family life.

Though Troup has been anxious to become active, Miss London obviously could not care less whether or not she ever works again. Her last album came out in 1969 (“It was called ‘Easy Does It,’ and it was the best I ever made”): her last movie was “The George Raft Story” in 1962.

Even if she wanted to sing, it would present a problem. “I had my throat cut a couple of years ago --- a thyroidectomy. It left me with no chops. I could just talk; then gradually the singing voice started to come back a little. If I worked at it six hours a day for three months straight, I could get it back, but I’m not interested. The only time I miss it is maybe at a party; after a couple of belts I may open my mouth to sing a tune and I shudder.”

 

HOLLYWOOD---It’s A Whole New Ball Game For The Troups

Los Angeles Times

Tuesday - July 28, 1981

By Leonard Feather

Webmaster Note: In this 1981 Los Angeles Times article, the paper chose to publish it with the photo above. Julie & Booby posed for this portrait in 1957, 24 years earlier.