Julie Wilson (1924 - 2015)

Julie Wilson
1924 - 2015
updated October 17, 2019
Julie Wilson was born on October 21, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska. She died on April 5, 2015 at age 90.

Julie Wilson Born Julie May Wilson October 21, 1924 Omaha, Nebraska, .
Died April 5, 2015 (aged 90)
New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Singer, actress
Years active 1942–1990
Notable work Legs Diamond
Julie May Wilson (October 21, 1924 – April 5, 2015) was an American singer and actress "widely regarded as the queen of cabaret". She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1989 for her performance in Legs Diamond.
Wilson was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of Emily (née Bennett), a hairdresser, and Russell Wilson, a coal salesman.[3] She first found a musical outlet with local musical group "Hank's Hepcats" in her teenage years and briefly attended Omaha University. She won the title of Miss Nebraska and would have competed in the Miss America pageant, until it was discovered that she was just under the required minimum age of 18. She headed to New York City during World War II and found work in two of Manhattan's leading nightclubs, the Latin Quarter and the Copacabana. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, in a 1948 newspaper column, referred to Wilson as "Kay Thompson's discovery," adding that Wilson "is being tested by Arthur Freed at Metro."
Wilson with Phil Silvers in an episode of The Phil Silvers Show in 1958
She made her Broadway stage debut in the 1946 revue Three to Make Ready.In 1951, she moved to London to star in the West End production of Kiss Me, Kate and remained there for four years, appearing in shows such as South Pacific and Bells Are Ringing while studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She returned to New York to replace Joan Diener in Kismet. Additional Broadway credits include The Pajama Game (1954), Jimmy (1969), Park (1970), and Legs Diamond (1988), for which she received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also toured in Show Boat, Panama Hattie, Silk Stockings, Follies, Company, and A Little Night Music.
In 1957, Wilson sang with Ray Anthony and his Orchestra, contributing vocals to a number of songs in the soundtrack to the film This Could Be The Night. Wilson also had an acting role in the film, as singer Ivy Corlane. Wilson's television credits include regular roles on the American daytime soap opera The Secret Storm. She also appeared in a Hallmark Hall of Fame telecast of Kiss Me, Kate and numerous episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show.
Personal life
With her second husband, actor/producer Michael McAloney, Wilson had two sons, Holt and Michael, Jr., who attended school in Ireland while their parents worked in New York City. When the marriage failed, Wilson sent the boys to live with her parents in Omaha. When they reached their teen years, she retired and joined them. Holt McAloney now acts under the name Holt McCallany. Michael McAloney Jr. died in 1991.
In 1983, with her sons grown and her parents deceased, she found her niche and forged her reputation as a cabaret performer, known primarily for her dramatic delivery of torch songs and show tunes. Her recordings include My Old Flame, Live From the Russian Tea Room, Julie Wilson At the St. Regis, and collections devoted to the songbooks of Cole Porter, Kurt Weill, Harold Arlen, Cy Coleman, and George and Ira Gershwin.

Julie Wilson Biography

Vital facts & highlights of Julie's life to share with the world.

Julie Wilson
Most commonly known name
First name
Middle name
Maiden name
Last name(s)
Julie Mary (or May) Wilson
Nickname(s) or aliases
Unknown. Did Julie move a lot? Where was her last known location?
Last known residence
Julie Wilson was born on in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska United States
Julie Wilson died on
Julie Wilson was born on in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska United States
Julie Wilson died on
There is no cause of death listed for Julie.
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Julie Wilson?
Burial / Funeral

Ethnicity & Lineage

What is Julie's ethnicity and where did her parents, grandparents & great-grandparents come from?

Nationality & Locations Lived



Unknown. Was Julie a religious woman?


Did Julie finish grade school, get a GED, go to high school, get a college degree or masters? What schools or universities did Julie attend?


Share what Julie did for a living or if she had a career or profession.

Personal Life & Organizations

Share some highlights of Julie's personal life & organizations in which they participated.

Military Service

Did Julie serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with her life?

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Looking for a different Julie Wilson?
View other bios of people named Julie Wilson
Back to Top

Julie Wilson Family Tree

Julie's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Wilson family tree.

Julie's Family

Add a parent
Add a parent
Julie Wilson
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a sibling


Click to add friends & family.

Share Memories about Julie

What do you remember about Julie Wilson? Share your memories of special moments and stories you have heard about her. Or just leave a comment to show the world that Julie is remembered.

Amanda S. Stevenson
10.5k+ favorites
10/21/1924 - 4/5/2015|
Julie Wilson (Associated Press) NEW YORK (AP) — Julie Wilson, a musical theater actress and cabaret star who earned a Tony Award nomination and was cheered for her ability to harness the great songs of Cole Porter, has died. She was 90.
Christopher Denny, Wilson's friend, said she died Sunday in New York after having suffered two strokes over the last several days.
Upon learning the news of her death, the Broadway icon Kristin Chenoweth tweeted: "Broadway's loss. Heaven's gain."
Wilson's most famous stage role was the 1988 Peter Allen musical "Legs Diamond," for which she earned a Tony Award nomination. Her other Broadway credits include "Park" in 1970, "The Girl in the Freudian Slip" in 1967 and as a replacement for the role of Babe Williams in the original run of "The Pajama Game."
But it was as a singer — known for her interpretations of such songwriters as Sondheim, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, and Porter — that made the biggest impressions, from such recordings as "Julie Wilson Sings the Cy Coleman Songbook" to her live sets at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel.
Denny, who was a friend for 30 years, called her his "second mother" and praised her for being "one of my life's greatest teachers and an example of humility, compassion, kindness and generosity which I never expect to see equaled."
Wilson was born Oct 21, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, and recorded several albums, including "My Old Flame," ''Live From the Russian Tea Room" and "Julie Wilson at the St. Regis."
She is survived by her son, actor, writer, and producer Holt McAloney.
May 14, 2018 · Reply
Amanda S. Stevenson
10.5k+ favorites
I first saw her at the St. Regis Hotel in La Maisonette. And in the Algonquin Hotel and her very last night before her retirement at Brothers and Sisters and she said, "I am moving back to Omaha to raise my children." Then with her comeback.
May 14, 2018 · Reply

Julie Wilson Obituary

This obit of Julie Wilson is maintained by Julie's followers. Contribute to her obituary and include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Julie Wilson, Sultry Cabaret Legend and Actress, Dies at 90
The New York Times By Stephen Holden April 6, 2015
Julie Wilson, the revered nightclub performer and actress widely regarded as the queen of cabaret, died on Sunday in Manhattan. She was 90.
She died after having a stroke, her son Holt McCallany, an actor, said.
The rail-thin Ms. Wilson, her hair pulled back, a gardenia tucked behind one ear, cut a striking and elegant figure onstage in clinging custom-made gowns usually augmented by a feather boa. As she wove her spell, performing standards from the American songbook in addition to humorously racy material, she was by turns naughty and intense, digging so deeply into the lyrics she sang that she seemed to be living them.
Ms. Wilson did not shy from strong emotion. Her voice, though limited in range and not conventionally beautiful, was a forceful dramatic instrument that she wielded with the authority of a great storyteller. As she aged, she increasingly moved toward the style of speech-song known as parlando, long associated with Mabel Mercer, which imbued lyrics with a conversational immediacy. One of her many definitive performances was her rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here,” a song that could be read as the story of her life on the bumpy road of show business.
Julia Mary Wilson was born in Omaha on Oct. 21, 1924. Her mother, the former Emily Bennet, was a hairdresser; her father, Russell Wilson, sold coal for a living.
She began singing with local bands at 14 and briefly attended Omaha University (now the University of Nebraska, Omaha). She won the title of Miss Nebraska and would have competed in the Miss America Pageant, but she had to give up the title when the mother of the runner-up discovered she was three days short of 18, the minimum age.
Ms. Wilson joined the chorus of “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” in Omaha in the early 1940s and traveled with the show to New York, where she worked as a chorus girl at the Copacabana and the Latin Quarter. In 1946 she made her Broadway debut in the revue “Three to Make Ready.”
After winning a singing contest on a radio show hosted by Mickey Rooney, she was offered an engagement at the Mocambo in Los Angeles. While there she met Cole Porter, who offered her the role of Bianca in the London production of “Kiss Me, Kate.” She remained in England through the early 1950s, appearing there in musicals including “Bet Your Life” and “South Pacific.”
The nightclub she later called her “anchor” and the place where she said she “grew up” was La Maisonette at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, where she first performed around 1948. She continued to sing in nightclubs in the 1950s and ’60s and appeared in road productions of “Show Boat,” “Silk Stockings” and “Panama Hattie,” but turned down the lead in the original 1954 Broadway production of “The Pajama Game” to continue studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. (She later joined the cast as a replacement.)
She also recorded several albums during this period, of which the most representative was “Julie Wilson at the St. Regis,” and appeared in two 1957 movies, “The Strange One,” a dark psychological drama, and “This Could Be the Night,” in which she played a saloon singer.
She later had roles in two flop Broadway musicals, “Jimmy” (1969) and “Park” (1970), but was well received in road productions of three Sondheim shows: “Company,” “Follies” and “A Little Night Music.”
In 1976 Ms. Wilson began a seven-year sabbatical from show business and moved back to Omaha to bring up her two sons, Holt and Michael, as they entered their teens. Michael died in 1991. In addition to Holt, she is survived by a granddaughter. She was married and divorced three times.
Ms. Wilson returned to New York nightclubs in 1984 with a triumphant engagement at Michael’s Pub, singing the songs of Cole Porter. She then became a fixture at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel, where she reached a pinnacle of critical acclaim performing the songbooks of major theater composers with the pianist William Roy. Among the most admired of her 21 albums were the songbook albums she recorded for DRG Records. In 1988 she was nominated for a Tony Award for best featured actress in a Broadway musical for her role as the owner of a speakeasy in Peter Allen’s “Legs Diamond.”
More than a role model for other nightclub singers, she became a godmother to the cabaret scene and until very recently visited clubs many nights a week to support young talent in the field she loved. Her last memorable show at the Metropolitan Room, where she frequently performed during the last decade, was an evening of Brecht-Weill songs in 2008.
Of her performance of “Surabaya Johnny,” from the album “Julie Wilson Sings the Kurt Weill Songbook,” the critic Will Friedwald wrote: “She fluctuates between bipolar extremes of love and hate in re-enacting what can only be described as a grandly dysfunctional relationship. It is as wrenching as the most powerful blues by Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.”
In a 1987 interview with the music critic and historian Whitney Balliett, Ms. Wilson named Holiday as her major influence. “No singer has ever moved me so much,” she said. “No one has ever had such pain and emotion in her singing. She is why I wear a gardenia in my hair every night.”
An obituary on Tuesday about the singer and actress Julie Wilson, using information from her son, omitted a survivor. Besides her son Holt McCallany, Ms. Wilson is survived by a granddaughter.

Followers & Sources
Other Records of Julie Wilson

1924 - 2015 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Julie's lifetime

In 1924, in the year that Julie Wilson was born, on January 21st, Vladimir Lenin, a leader of the Russian Revolution and the first leader of the Soviet Union died. He had survived two assassination attempts but had subsequent physical problems, suffering 3 strokes. He was in such great pain, it is said that he asked Stalin to poison him. The circumstances of his death are still disputed. He did oppose Stalin as the next leader - nonetheless, Stalin won a power struggle and ruled as a Soviet dictator until his death in 1953.

In 1937, at the age of just 13 years old, Julie was alive when on May 6th, the German zeppelin the Hindenburg caught fire and blew up. The Hindenburg was a passenger ship traveling to Frankfurt Germany. It tried to dock in New Jersey, one of the stops, and something went wrong - it blew up. Thirty-six people were killed out of the 97 on board - 13 passengers, 22 crewmen, and one ground worker. The reasons for the explosion are still disputed.

In 1978, at the age of 54 years old, Julie was alive when on November 18th, Jim Jones's Peoples Temple followers committed mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana - where they had moved, from San Francisco, as a group. Jones was the leader of the cult and ordered his followers to drink cyanide-laced punch, which they did. Whole families (women and children included) died - more than 900 people in all.

In 1980, she was 56 years old when on December 8th, ex-Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his home - the Dakota - in New York City. Chapman was found guilty of murder and still remains in jail.

In 1998, by the time she was 74 years old, on December 19th, the House of Representatives initiated impeachment charges against U.S. President Bill Clinton. He was subsequently acquitted of these charges by the Senate on February 12th.

Other Biographies

Other Wilsons

1900 - 1961
1804 - Unknown
Jan 21, 1877 - 1918
Aug 21, 1881 - c. Dec 22, 1931
2006 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Feb 23, 1930 - Sep 1, 2007
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Oct 17, 1957 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - 1915
1913 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
1899 - Sep 20, 1967
May 4, 1906 - Feb 18, 1907
1902 - 1948
Unknown - Unknown
Jan 3, 2004 - Unknown

Other Bios

Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Jul 2, 1917 - Mar 12, 2002
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Sep 3, 1963 - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
May 5, 1869 - Feb 2, 1957
Unknown - Unknown
Unknown - Unknown
Aug 22, 1934 - May 8, 2010
Mar 14, 1949 - Unknown
Success Stories from Biographies like Julie Wilson
Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
Highlights of just a few of the many successes of sharing memories & family history at AncientFaces. From reuniting lost or 'orphan' photos with their families, seeing the faces of family for the first time, to connecting unknown and lost relatives.

These stories will warm your heart. Are you inspired to share photos and biographies of the people from your past?