A TRIBUTE TO JULIE LONDON
How can I explain my profound sorrow resulting from the death of someone I never met?
I can always remember wanting to "call Rampart" - just to talk to Nurse Dixie
McCall. (I don't know how it started, but eventually my parents had to relent and allow me
to stay awake and watch the show.) I was five or maybe six; smashing my Matchbox cars
together and dispatching rescue squads and ambulances built of Legos. Oh sure, I played
fireman and paramedic both, but my favorite part, bar none, was "calling
Rampart" on a plastic telephone. I wanted to talk to Dixie, the always composed and
forever beautiful Nurse McCall. Oh sure, a doctor could answer the call on the television,
but in my imagination, it was only Dixie.
continued as I grew older. Then I could only see this incredible nurse and her heroic
friends on UHF reruns, but that didn't matter. I no longer "radioed in" patient
reports, although I still played with my Hot Wheels cars (now smashed with hammers to
create more realistic "wrecks"). But when Dixie appeared on the screen, all of
my playing stopped. I realized how cool, compassionate, intelligent, and strikingly
beautiful she was. Needless to say, my infatuation grew into an early adolescent crush. I
loved her. Not in the sick, psychotic and perverse way we now often associate with those
who claim to "love" television stars they have never met. No, this was an
innocent, joyful reaction to seeing her on the screen (although I can remember being
really embarrassed when once, during a pre-adolescent game of "truth-or-dare", I
admitted that she was the "girl" I would most like to kiss). I looked forward to
coming home from school to "play Emergency" while watching the show, always
trying to live up to the standards set by Johnny and Roy, so that I too, could impress
I went on to become a firefighter and a paramedic (my growing up is, however, debatable).
I have taught EMS at many levels over the past, not so few, years. Now I sit in a medical
school lecture, surrounded by a more youthful generation, most of whom would not even be
able to identify the source of the phrase "Squad 51 responding" having just
learned of Ms. London's death; and I have never felt more like crying after hearing news
of the passing of someone I never met. I know that my love for EMS has grown from the same
spot in my heart that was once home to the maelstrom of emotions I felt as a result of my
crush on Ms. London. She certainly played an indirect, but not insignificant, role in my
As I have progressed through my EMS career, I have found that my experience with
"Emergency", while individually unique, was shared in essence by many of those I
work with. By extrapolation over space and time, Ms. London has played and indirect, but
not insignificant, role in the development of enough EMS careers as to affect the
development of EMS in general; as many paramedics grew up watching, and hoping to one day
emulate, her and her co-stars on "Emergency".
I realize that to those honored enough to have known her personally, she was a
real, three-dimensional person with a life and identity of her own; with emotions and
dreams not scripted by writers, controlled by directors, or caught on camera and broadcast
across the country. I hope those people will accept my deepest, most heartfelt sympathies.
I also hope that they realize that through her portrayal of Nurse Dixie McCall on the
television show "Emergency", she has touched, and continues to touch, countless
lives. By motivating a love for EMS in so many talented individuals who have gone on to
serve others through the emergency services, she has not only touched their lives, but
also the lives of those persons they treat, as well as those of the new EMS providers they
teach, and thus, the lives of those persons treated by those new EMTs and paramedics, and
those that those new EMTs and paramedics go on to teach, ad infinitum. So, to those who
knew and loved her, both as Dixie McCall, and more importantly as Julie London, please
find some solace in the realization that a small part of her will live forever in the
lives she has touched...
With deep sorrow,
Howard K. Mell, MPH, EMT-P
M1 - University of Illinois, College of Medicine
A voice was calling out to her,
A hand was reaching too, The face
It was different, and yet it was
face she knew.
Hello my love, How Ive missed you so,
I never wanted to leave you,
And now Ill never let you go.
"Come my love and take my hand,
And let me lead the way,
Forever starts with a single step,
That step begins today."
Somehow she knew the time was right,
And she stepped forward towards the light.
Her eyes then filled with tears and
Each and everyone of them washed
Away the years.
Then standing there before him,
As radiant as before,
His one true love, the woman he adored.
Come my love, Our journey
has only just begun,
We will now live and love
an eternity as one."
The Julie London Show, filmed in Japan
(Bobby and his band were also featured)
Julie on The Bob Hope Show (1957) & with Jack Benny
Photo provided by Brenda