There are many people who could be regarded as the Princesses of Television. Now, meet the Queen— the acting one, that is, not the British one who resides in Buckingham Palace. That is a whole different kettle of fish, though they are both British.
Dame Julie Andrews DBE (born Julia Elizabeth Wells on 1 October 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey) is a world-famous English actress, bast known for her roles as Mary Poppins and as Maria von Trapp in the film version of The Sound of Music.
Andrews grew up performing in music halls 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 in London, the youngest person ever to do so. After crossing the Atlantic, Andrews made her Broadway debut (on the eve of her 19th birthday) in The Boy Friend, then became a national sensation as Eliza Doolittle in the smash hit My Fair Lady. In early 1957, she took a week off from the show to star in the 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 his 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, in which she thanked Jack Warner for having rejected her for the film version of Eliza, thus enabling her to trump Hepburn.) The next year she had an even bigger smash hit, starring 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, a role she reprised in the sequel. She went on to voice Queen Lillian in the Shrek franchise, star as Lily in The Tooth Fairy, and voice Marlena Gru in Despicable Me and Despicable Me 3. She was also in Aquaman (2018) as a giant sea monster of all things.
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 and director Blake Edwards were married in 1969 during the filming of Darling Lili and remained married until his death in 2010. She counts comedienne Carol Burnett, as well as her late The Sound of Music co-star Christopher Plummer and three-time co-star James Garner, among her closest friends.
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 and Mandy. Interestingly, most of the marketing for them doesn't mention the author's work as an actress. They're quite charming. She is also the lead in Julie's Greenroom, an original Jim Henson Company production featuring Andrews hosting a group of young children who are learning about the theater, with top-flight guest stars such as Idina Menzel; it can be seen on Netflix. Additionally, she narrated Broadway: The American Musical, a six-part PBS documentary miniseries on the Broadway musicals where she started her career that aired in the fall of 2004.
She also swears like a sailor given the opportunity. She also met David Tennant once - he almost died of glee and sheer joy.
Julie Andrews provides examples of:
- Actor-Shared Background: She's terrified of cockroaches like her character in Victor/Victoria.
- Awesome, Dear Boy:
- Career Resurrection: The Princess Diaries led to Julie re-entering the public eye in a different way, and she enjoyed lots of success as a Celebrity Voice Actor in the Shrek and Despicable Me franchises.
- Contractual Purity: The successes of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music gave her a wholesome, sweet reputation that meant she struggled getting varied parts. She attempted to break out of it with Darling Lili but succeeded with SOB. As of the 2000s, she has returned to her wholesome roots, albeit Adam Westing in places.
- Cool Old Lady: In her eighties and as cool as ever, both on screen and stage and in real life.
- Creator Backlash: She grew to hate being being stuck with a sweetly nature.
- Creator Couple: Blake Edwards directed her in Darling Lili, S.O.B., Victor/Victoria and a cameo in The Return of the Pink Panther that got cut.
- English Rose: She is mostly remembered as a perfectly decent and squeaky clean British woman, a role she played in her most famous films.
- I Am Very British: To most people outside the UK she is the most famous example of an actress fitting this trope.
- Lady Swears-a-Lot: She is infamously foul-mouthed behind the scenes in contrast to the public's perception of her as a proper English lady.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: She described her favourite role as The Americanization of Emily - a lesser known World War II drama that was significant at the time and is still beloved among her hardcore fans, but hasn't had the mainstream popularity of her more famous roles. (Incidentally, her co-star in that film, James Garner, listed it as his personal favourite role as well.)
- Meta Casting: In the film S.O.B. she plays an actress with a goodie-two-shoes image who gets convinced to go topless in a film, mirroring her own attempts to shake off her wholesome image.
- The Musical: Appeared in many musicals, where she got to show off her impressive vocal range.
- Odd Friendship: Between herself and Carol Burnett, at first glance since one is primarily known being an English Rose while the other for a more working-class style of comedy. But both have their roots in vaudeville and share a similar sense of humor. They've appeared in three well-received TV specials together, the first of which has an opening number ("You're So London") highlighting their differences. In her children's show Julie's Greenroom, Burnett plays a wealthy benefactor named Edna Brightful who makes a sizeable donation to Julie's theater class after being impressed by their original performance.
- Playing Against Type:
- As a Mata Hari-esque Femme Fatale in Darling Lili, a deliberate attempt to not be seen as a Magical Nanny for the rest of her career.
- She also plays Gru's nagging and emotionally abusive mother in Despicable Me, in contrast to her Cool Old Lady roles in later years.
- If we told you that she had a role in Aquaman, you'd probably be able to guess said role was for a character who's heroic, but not that said character is a giant sea monster.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Andrews lives on in the public conscience as Mary Poppins and Maria in The Sound Of Music.
- Real-Life Relative: Her stepson Geoffrey Edwards cameos in Victor/Victoria as the man who says "divine" while 'Victor' sings at rehearsal.
- Reality Subtext:
- In Victor/Victoria, Victoria tells King they must promise to not keep secrets, to not hold grudges, they won't plan past tomorrow, and they'll take things one day at a time. This what Julie and Blake Edwards agreed to each other when they got married.
- The tension between the Captain and Maria in The Sound of Music was pretty real; Christopher Plummer was annoyed with Julie during filming, calling her "Ms Disney". However, they later became good friends.
- Romance on the Set: She met her husband Blake Edwards while making Darling Lili.
- Star-Making Role: She was a big star on the stage, but Mary Poppins made her internationally famous.
- Those Two Actors: She and James Garner starred in three different films together.
- Throw It In: During "A Spoonful of Sugar", Mary Poppins's reflection starts singing on its own, to which the real Mary says "cheeky!" - which was ad-libbed by Julie.
- Typecasting: She describes having to turn down numerous Magical Nanny roles after playing the two Trope Codifiers.
- What Could Have Been:
- She was strongly considered to reprise her role as Eliza Doolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady, but Jack Warner wanted to go with a name actress, and cast Audrey Hepburn instead. They ended up competing with each other for the Best Actress Academy Award; Hepburn wasn't nominated, while Julie won Best Actress for Mary Poppins.
- After Mary Poppins was filmed, she nearly turned down the role of Maria von Trapp, fearing she was too similar to Mary. She changed her mind, and got typecast as a Magical Nanny anyway.
- She was the first choice to play Miss Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which she initially turned down. But then she changed her mind and called up Disney to say she would take the role. However while she had been re-thinking it, Angela Lansbury had already been cast.
- She was set to star in a musical biopic of Irving Berlin, called Say It With Music but the project was cancelled.
- She was offered a cameo in Mary Poppins Returns but declined, not wanting to take away from Emily Blunt's performance.*
- Thoroughly Modern Millie was originally intended to be a light comedy - as the studio were trying to make Mary Tyler Moore "the next Doris Day". When Julie came on board, the film became a musical that focused more on her.
- Word of Saint Paul: On if Mary Poppins and Bert ever got together - "I hope so. She wouldn't admit it but I hope so."