A biography of the American actress and pop singer.
Julie London (1926-2000) may not be a household name, but during the 1950s and ’60s, she was a popular singer known for her sultry, “spectral” voice, as pop-culture historian Owen describes it in this absorbing biography. However, as the author shows, she had never intended to be a singer. In fact, London begrudgingly took on the role after her future husband, Bobby Troup, convinced her to give it a shot when her acting career had begun to sputter. As a singer, London established herself as an unlikely talent, and her status as one of the age’s pre-eminent sex symbols was cemented by her throaty vocals and provocative, sensual album covers. Born Nancy Gayle Peck in Stockton, California, London began her career in 1943 when she was discovered in a department store in Los Angeles. She was cast mostly in small parts in various B-movies, never really breaking through to leading-lady status. It wasn’t until the dissolution of her first marriage to the domineering and aloof Jack Webb and London’s eventual romantic involvement with Troup, a respected musician, that she began to pursue her musical career. London would go on to release numerous albums of standards and covers, including her breakthrough debut “Julie Is Her Name,” which featured her best known song, “Cry Me a River.” But for an early crossover star who managed to remain in the public eye for more than two decades, London was surprisingly cagey about her celebrity and career. As a reluctant singer, she never truly believed in her ability, and her lack of confidence and self-esteem plagued her throughout her career. Returning to acting later in life as star of the TV show Emergency!, London’s consistent and long-running career disproves her own doubts.
An affectionate and complex portrait of London that will help rekindle an interest in her life and work.