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If you like Julie Andrews's story, you might also like:
Carol Burnett,
Olivia de Havilland,
Sally Field,
Ron Howard,
Jeremy Irons,
Johnny Mathis,
Audra McDonald,
Jessye Norman,
Trevor Nunn,
Sidney Poitier,
Harold Prince,
Stephen Sondheim,
Hilary Swank,
Julie Taymor and
Kiri Te Kanawa

Julie Andrews can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Julie Andrews's recommended reading: The Little Grey Men

Related Links:
Julie Andrews Music on Jango
Reel Classics
The Julie Andrews Collection

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Julie Andrews
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Julie Andrews Interview (page: 5 / 6)

Legend of Stage and Screen

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  Julie Andrews

You got married after doing My Fair Lady in London. How did you meet your first husband?

Julie Andrews: I met my first husband, Tony Walton, long before I became anybody. I had just made that first debut at 12 years old, and he was 13 at the time, and he came to see me in one of those English pantomimes at Christmas. It was the first pantomime I ever did, and I played the egg in Humpty Dumpty, and he was sitting there in the front row. And lo and behold, got on the train going home and got off at the same station and said, "You're from Walton? I'm from Walton." And Tony Walton, which is his name, is not linked with the town but it just happened to be similar. And, he said, "Where do you live?" And I thought, "Oh, I will be very clever." And I said, "Oh, the other side of the bridge." So he then went and looked up all the Andrews that lived the other side of the bridge in this area and, lo and behold, about two days later there was a knock on my door and he arrived with his brothers and we became firm friends, and eventually Tony and I married. We have a beautiful daughter by that marriage called Emma.

You were passed over for the film of My Fair Lady, and then made a fantastic screen debut in Mary Poppins. How did that all come about?

Julie Andrews: Again, the good fortune in my life suddenly came along. After My Fair Lady I was very lucky to do Camelot for Lerner and Loewe with the wondrous Richard Burton. By now I was married to Tony and I did know my way around Broadway, and I knew a little bit more about performing, and everybody trusted me and I wasn't quite so desperately shy.

My Fair Lady was bought by Jack Warner to be made into a movie. I didn't think I'd get it. Alan Jay Lerner and Moss Hart, I believe, hoped that I would. Rex [Harrison] certainly was going to make it. But, I understood very well when they cast Audrey Hepburn in the role because, although by then I was a fairly big name in the small pond that is Broadway, I certainly wasn't known across America, and I certainly had never made a movie. So I didn't get the role of My Fair Lady in the film and, lo and behold, I was in Camelot and Walt Disney came to see Camelot. He was advised to see it because he was putting together this movie of Mary Poppins. He came backstage afterwards. I thought he was just going to visit. And, he said would I like to come to Broadway -- sorry, to Hollywood. I was on Broadway. Would I like to come to Hollywood to see the drawings, the designs, the art, hear the songs and the lyrics for this musical of an English book, Mary Poppins, that he was doing.

And he turned to Tony Walton and said, "And what do you do, young man?" Tony was, and is, a designer of theater and film. A wonderful designer of sets and costumes, but he had done very, very little at that time and he explained this to Walt. And Walt said, "Well, then you better bring your portfolio with you when you both come." Oh, and I was just a teeny pregnant, like about two to three months pregnant. And I said, "But I'm going to have a baby, Mr. Disney." He said, "It's okay. We'll wait." And so...

Tony and I went to Hollywood and Walt showed us everything to do with Mary Poppins and also wined and dined us so sumptuously and so wonderfully. And, it was such an easy thing to do to say, "Yes, thank you, Mr. Disney. I would love to do that movie," because everything seemed to come full circle, because all the stuff in Poppins had that rum-ti-tum quality of being vaudeville. And all of a sudden I thought, "Right, I'm home because this I can embrace and perhaps bring something to." And again, in the kindest hands possible, I was taught how to make a movie and that was the beginning of that. How lucky can anybody get losing out on My Fair Lady and three months later being asked to do Mary Poppins?

To this day a lot of your fans are upset that you weren't in that movie, but it sounds like you made your peace with it.

Julie Andrews Interview Photo
Julie Andrews: I did make my peace with it. That isn't to say that years later I didn't wish that somewhere, somehow I had put down My Fair Lady definitively, just so that my children or my grandchildren could see it. But in the great scheme of things I ain't complaining one bit.

What was it like winning the Oscar?

Julie Andrews: I honestly didn't think I would. I really thought Anne Bancroft was going to get it that year for The Pumpkin Eater. She was superb in that movie. And Poppins was my first film. I never dreamed I would get it. Actually, when I did get that Oscar I really felt that it was more because I had missed out on My Fair Lady, that Hollywood was (a) saying welcome and (b) saying how sorry they were that I didn't get it. In the speech that I gave I said, "I always knew Americans were generous but this is absolutely ridiculous," and I really felt that it was generosity and their saying, "Welcome, welcome."

Your movie The Sound of Music has become a classic. Was it clear to you that this was going to be a great piece of work when you first encountered it?

Julie Andrews: When I was first asked if I would like to do Sound of Music, I was very thrilled to be asked and very glad that I was going to do the movie, but was a little careful about certain aspects of it because it was tremendously saccharine, on Broadway particularly, and it seemed to me that if we weren't careful with the real scenery and with everything else that was going into it, it could be horribly sugary. And, I certainly made every effort to make it more astringent and the great Christopher Plummer contributed so much in that respect. It was his performance that was the glue, the vinegar that held the film together. And, then Robert Wise, who was again an adorable man, our director, and he taught me a great deal about filmmaking because Mary Poppins was the first film I ever made, and then I made one called The Americanization of Emily, but by the time I got to Sound of Music I was probably getting full of a lot of little tricks and things that I didn't know I was doing, and Bob said, "Don't do that. Don't do that. Do that." And, I really learned a little bit more about filmmaking at that time.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

it was an indelible performance. How did you meet your second husband, Blake Edwards?

Julie Andrews: I met Blake in 1967. We both laugh at this. I passed his car and he passed mine on the middle island of Sunset Boulevard on Roxbury Drive. I thought, "That's a very interesting looking gentleman," and I presumed he must have thought the same about me in terms of being an interesting looking lady. And lo and behold, a couple of days later it happened again and again. And finally, we were waiting for the traffic to clear on either side of this intersection and he rolled down his window, and I cannot remember which one of us said it but it was sort of, "Are you going to where I just came from?" And we both realized that, being on Roxbury Drive, we had probably both been to see, or were going to see, an analyst. And one of us nodded. I don't know which one asked the question. And not too long after, I received a phone call asking if he could talk to me about a film, which was a film that we both did together called Darling Lili. It was a huge flop and it was great fun to make, and shortly after Darling Lili we were married.

We're very interested in how people recover from career setbacks and failures like the one you mentioned. You must have been very well grounded, because there were a couple of failed movies in this period, but you kept going.

Julie Andrews: I think it's that early training, if anything, in vaudeville for me that gave me any kind of gumption. Touring endlessly around England, doing the second show on a Saturday night in places like Glasgow or Newcastle or Liverpool or Swansea or Cardiff, that's pretty dicey. I was very, very young. There were days when they would have to turn all the house lights on in the theater because people were hurling beer bottles and things like that. And, there was this determination to get through. My mum was terrific. She would say, "Don't you dare complain. Don't you dare say you can't sing in cigarette smoke," because in those days you could see it spiraling down the great arcs on to the spotlights on to the stage. Nothing but cigarette smoke in those days. And she would say, "Don't you dare get a swollen head," accompanied by great love sometimes. But, all the good stuff that one needs, "Get up and do it. What are you complaining about? You're so much luckier than most other people," just absolutely true.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

So you never lost hope when some of those movies didn't do so well?

Julie Andrews: You never set out to make a bad movie. You always hope that you're making a good one. We're sad about them, inasmuch as they damage the career. In those days it was important, but not as important as it is today, to keep making success after success after success. It's terrifying today. You can maybe have one so-so movie but you've got to come back with another that's huge, if possible, and that must be very, very difficult for young talent.

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This page last revised on Mar 31, 2008 14:50 EST
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