Julie Wilson



Born: October 21, 1924
Omaha, Nebraska

Died: April 5, 2015

Obituary:Julie Wilson, a singer whose dominant presence in the cabaret world over the past few decades led her to be called “The Queen of Cabaret,” died April 5. She was 90.

Ms. Wilson began her career as a musical theatre actress, both in New York and London. But, beginning in the 1980s, she began to focus on the smaller stages of the cabaret world, finding acclaim for her interpretations of songwriters such as Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter.

“It is a brilliant tour de force,” the New York Times wrote of a 1984 show of Sondheim songs. “It is a triumph for Miss Wilson that lifts her to a new career level and that sets a standard for contemporary cabaret performance.”

She was a regular star at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel. In 1987, she performed From Weill to Sondheim at the Kaufman Theatre Off-Broadway. At the same theatre in 1991, she did Cole Porter at the Kaufman.

"Porter does the work for you," she once said, comparing the two songwriters. "Sondheim is more cerebral and he makes you do the work."

Her solo recordings include “Julie Wilson Sings the Cy Coleman Songbook,” “Julie Wilson Sings the Gershwin Songbook,” “Julie Wilson at the St. Regis,” “Live from the Russian Tea Room” and “My Old Flame.”

Julie Wilson was born Oct. 21, 1954, in Omaha Nebraska, the daughter of a coal salesman and a hairdresser. She moved to New York City during World War II and soon found a job at the Latin Quarter, a prominent Times Square night club. In 1946, she was a replacement in the musical revue Three to Make Ready.

Her other Broadway appearances included Park (1970), Jimmy (1969), The Girl in the Freudian Slip (1967). She also stepped into the role of Lalume in Kismet, replacing Joan Deiner, and Babe Williams in the original run of The Pajama Game.

Her most famous stage role was arguably the 1988 Peter Allen musical Legs Diamond. The show had a notoriously short run, but she emerged with a Tony Award nomination.

Ms. Wilson married actor and producer Michael McAloney. Together they had two sons, Holt and Michael Jr., who survive her. The marriage did not last, and the boys were sent to Ms. Wilson’s parents in Omaha to be raised there. In 1976, when they became teenagers, she retired from the stage to be with her children. Once they had grown to adulthood, and her parents had died, Ms. Wilson had little to do. Gil Wiest, the owner of Michael's Pub, contacted her. He had been looking for a singer to do a Cole Porter program. Though she argued she was not ready, he booked her for early 1984 anyway. The show was a critical smash. Her second career had begun.



Playbill Cover - Legs Diamond Legs Diamond
Dec. 26, 1988 - Feb. 19, 1989
Flo Performer
Playbill Cover - Park Park
Apr. 22, 1970 - Apr. 25, 1970
Woman Performer
Playbill Cover - Jimmy Jimmy
Oct. 23, 1969 - Jan. 3, 1970
Allie Walker Performer
Playbill Cover - The Girl in the Freudian Slip The Girl in the Freudian Slip
May 18, 1967 - May 20, 1967
Barbara Leonard Standby
    Paula Maugham Standby
Playbill Cover - The Pajama Game The Pajama Game
May 13, 1954 - Nov. 24, 1956
Babe Williams Performer
Playbill Cover - Kismet Kismet
Dec. 3, 1953 - Apr. 23, 1955
Lalume Performer
Playbill Cover - Three to Make Ready Three to Make Ready
Mar. 7, 1946 - Dec. 14, 1946
Ensemble Performer


Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1989 Featured Actress in a Musical Legs Diamond Nominee
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