Dame Julie Andrews
is a world-famous British actress, most notable for her roles as Mary Poppins
and Maria von Trapp in the film version of The Sound of Music
Born Julia Elizabeth Wells in 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, England, Julie Andrews grew up performing in vaudeville as a child, after her parents discovered her "freakish" four-octave singing voice. In 1948, at age 12, she performed at the Royal Command Variety Performance, the youngest person ever to do so.
She made her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend
, but became a national sensation as Eliza Doolittle in the Broadway smash My Fair Lady
. In early 1957, she took a week off from the show to star in Rodgers and Hammerstein
's TV production of Cinderella
, which became the most-watched television broadcast in history. While performing her third Broadway lead — Queen Guenivere in Camelot
— she was approached by Walt Disney
, who asked her to star in the upcoming live-action adaptation of Mary Poppins
. She agreed, and two years later won Best Actress in a Leading Role at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards of 1964 - beating out Audrey Hepburn, who was nominated only for the former award, for her role as... Eliza Doolittle in the film of My Fair Lady
. On top of that, Andrews gave a classic Take That
acceptance speech at the Golden Globes which she thanked Jack Warner
for snubbing her for the film version of Eliza, and thus being able to trump Hepburn. The next year she had an even bigger smash hit — she starred in the film of The Sound of Music
Sick of her sweet reputation
, she took much more daring roles in the 1970s and '80s. She returned to Broadway in yet another smash, Victor/Victoria
, reprising her role from the film as a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman.
Her career tapered off in the '90s, partly due to a botched vocal surgery that cost Andrews her four-octave range, but she returned full-force as Queen Clarisse in The Princess Diaries
in her first Disney film in 40 years. She went on to provide the voice of Queen Lillian in the Shrek
franchise and star as Lily in Tooth Fairy
Today she is well known as a writer, actress, director (of the Broadway revival of The Boy Friend
) and spokeswoman. Her singing voice is slowly coming back, although she will probably never regain those four octaves — her first public singing performance was in The Princess Diaries
sequel. Hardened crewmen cried.
She was married to director Blake Edwards
from 1969 until his death in 2010. She counts comedienne Carol Burnett, The Sound of Music
co-star Christopher Plummer and three-time co-star James Garner among her closest friends.
Andrews' other famous films include S.O.B.
, Thoroughly Modern Millie
, The Americanization Of Emily
and Torn Curtain
(directed by Alfred Hitchcock
She's also written several children's books under the name Julie Andrews Edwards, the most famous of which are The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
. Interestingly, most of the marketing for them doesn't mention the author's work as an actress. They're quite charming.
She also swears like a sailor given the opportunity.