London’s 35-year acting career began in films in 1944 and included playing opposite Gary Cooper in Man of the West (1958) and Robert Mitchum in The Wonderful Country (1959). She achieved continuing success in the TV medical drama Emergency! (1972–1979), co-starring her real-life husband, Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb, in which London played the female lead role of nurse Dixie McCall. She and Randolph Mantooth, who played one-half of her medical students, a paramedic, in the series, were very close to her family, until her death in 2000.
Born in Santa Rosa, California, she was the daughter of Jack and Josephine Peck, who were a vaudeville song-and-dance team. When she was fourteen the family moved to Los Angeles. Shortly after that, she began appearing in movies. She graduated from the Hollywood Professional High School in 1945.
London began singing under the name Gayle Peck in public in her teens before appearing in a film. She was discovered by talent agent Sue Carol (wife of actor Alan Ladd), while working as an elevator operator. Her early film career, however, did not include any singing roles.
London recorded 32 albums in a career that began in 1955 with a live performance at the 881 Club in Los Angeles. Billboard named her the most popular female vocalist for 1955, 1956, and 1957. She was the subject of a 1957 Life cover article in which she was quoted as saying, “It’s only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate.”
London’s debut recordings were for the Bethlehem Records label. While shopping for a record deal, she recorded four tracks that would later be included on the compilation album Bethlehem’s Girlfriends in 1955. Bobby Troup backed London on the album, for which London recorded the standards “Don’t Worry About Me”, “Motherless Child”, “A Foggy Day”, and “You’re Blasé”.
London’s most famous single, “Cry Me a River”, was written by her high-school classmate Arthur Hamilton and produced by Troup. The recording became a million-seller after its release in December 1955 and also sold on reissue in April 1983 from the attention brought by a Mari Wilson cover. London performed the song in the film The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), and her recording gained later attention in the films Passion of Mind (2000) and V for Vendetta (2006). The song “Yummy Yummy Yummy” was featured on the HBO television series Six Feet Under and appears on its soundtrack album. London’s “Must Be Catchin’” was featured in the 2011 premiere episode of the ABC series Pan Am. Her last recording was “My Funny Valentine” for the soundtrack of the Burt Reynolds film Sharky’s Machine (1981).
Other popular singles include “Hot Toddy”, “Daddy”, and “Desafinado”. Recordings such as “Go Slow” epitomized her career style: her voice is slow, smoky, and playfully sensual.
She was married to Jack Webb, of Dragnet fame. Her obvious beauty and self-poise (she was a pinup girl prized by GIs during World War II) contrasted with his pedestrian appearance and stiff-as-a-board acting technique (much parodied by impersonators). This unlikely pairing arose from his and her love for jazz; their marriage lasted from July 1947 to November 1953. They had two daughters, one who was killed in a traffic accident in the 1990s and one who survived London. In 1954, having become somewhat reclusive after her divorce from Jack Webb, she met jazz composer and musician Bobby Troup at a club on La Brea Blvd. They married on December 31, 1959 and remained married until Troup’s death in February 1999. Together, they had one daughter and twin sons.
London suffered a stroke in 1995, and was in poor health until her death in Encino, California, at the age of seventy-four, survived by four of her five children. She died on18th October 2000, and was buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Edited by midlifefanclub on 26 Sep 2013, 14:26
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