September 26, 1926  * October 18, 2000


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.

My games 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 Nurse McCall.

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 life's direction. 

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".

JL-Life2-18-57.jpg (22518 bytes)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

Eternal Love

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 I’ve missed you so,
I never wanted to leave you,
And now I’ll 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."

Gayle Stewart

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The Julie London Show, filmed in Japan
(Bobby and his band were also featured)

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Julie on The Bob Hope Show (1957) & with Jack Benny
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Photo provided by Brenda

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