Friday, October 01, 2010

A History of... Julie Andrews

To celebrate the 75th birthday of the great Julie Andrews, our favorite singing governness, our favorite magical nanny, our favorite gender bending toast of Paris. Something big was in order. Why, she's practically perfect in every way... so in her honor, a resurrection of a long dormant exhaustively researched 100% true* series that was once the Film Experience's most popular feature.

1935 Julia Wells is born to Mrs. Barbara Wells in Surrey, England. Mr. Wells is not the father. Scandal! This bastard child will one day become the icon of squeaky clean family entertainment. She won't always enjoy it. At her christening the good fairy Fauna grants her the gift of song
One gift, the gift of song,
Melody your whole life long!
The nightingale her troubadour,
Bringing his sweet serenade to her door.
(We figure that's the only way you get a voice that lovely.)

1940 Having already recognized the fairy's generous gift, non biological daddy Ted Wells sends Julia to live with mom's new man Ted Andrews (also not her biological father --- so confusing!) who is better equipped to give her the musical education she needs.

1947 Julia -- now "Julie Andrews" -- makes her professional debut at the London Hippodrome singing the aria "Je Suis Titania" (i.e. 'I am Titania' -referencing the Queen of the Fairies in A Midsummer Nights Dream, no doubt an homage to generous Fauna) from the opera Mignon. She blows the roof off the place.

1951 Does not prick her finger and fall into an unnatural slumber but is, by now at 16, a British star of stage and radio. Waits impatiently, but sweetly, for love's first kiss total world domination.

1954 Start at the top: Debuts on the American stage on Broadway in the lead role of The Boyfriend.

1956 Wouldn't it be loverly if she originated the plum role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and concurrently became a superstar with the live television airing of the musical Cinderella? Statistics vary but her numbers are basically up their with the explosion of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and the final episode of M*A*S*H. We're talking everyone... or roughly 10 times the numbers that even the biggest "event" nowadays.

1959 Love's first kiss: Marries set designer Tony Walton who she met on the stage in London many years prior whilst playing the Egg in Humpty-Dumpty.

1960 Her eggs produce first child, Emma. Also creates the original Guinevere in the smash hit Broadway musical Camelot.

1962/1963 Julie, already a household name in America, is passed over for the movie version of the role she created in My Fair Lady because Jack Warner, in a typically lazy movie industry move (that we still see every day in 2010) only wants someone "bankable." Never mind that her first two movies become enormous "all time" blockbusters, each outgrossing My Fair Lady (which was also a hit with "bankable" Audrey Hepburn). Nobody can see into the future and most people aren't willing to risk casting based on rightness for a role... even though anyone in the right role at the time can become bankable as Mary Poppins will soon prove.

1964 Kill Audrey, Vol 1: Julie's movie debut Mary Poppins outgrosses My Fair Lady. So much for not bankable. She also stars in the acclaimed adult-oriented drama The Americanization of Emily, a film which she reportedly loves, though few notice in the enormous wake of that flying nanny.

1965 Kill Audrey Vol. 2: Julie wins the Oscar, besting Audrey Hepburn (who actually wasn't nominated but this isn't the way history remembers it. Shut up!).

As follow up, Julie spins around on a mountain top; billions of people all over the world get dizzy, and thousands of fairies are born. The Sound of Music outgrosses every movie that's ever existed including Gone With the Wind (if you don't adjust for inflation).

After defeating Audrey Hepburn, Julie targets Vivien Leigh. 'You can make one dress out of curtains? Amateur!'

Von Trapp play-clothes

1966 Hitchcock, having worn on Tippi Hedren's last nerve, has to find a replacement blonde. He tries Julie out for Torn Curtain. Outcome: Not icy and anonymous enough for Hitch. They never work together again. The film is a big hit. So is Hawaii that same year. Even outside of musicals Julie is beyond bankable.

1967 Julie stars as wannabe flapper Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. People remember it today as a misfire or flop but sorry: another huge hit, the biggest in Universal's history up till then. Julie + musicals = box office gold.

1968 Except when it don't. Oops. Star, a bloated biopic of Gertrude Lawrence becomes her first failure. Julie divorces Tony Walton and...

1969 ...marries Blake Edwards after filming Darling Lili (1970) for the director with Rock Hudson.

1970s After five years on the mountain top of global stardom, Julie bows out of the movies, making only two more films over the decade. She has two more children and then adopts two more still. She makes multiple television appearances.

1981 Blake convinces his wife to bare her breasts, which he had undoubtedly seen thousands of times already but he's a sharer. Her boob flash in S.O.B totally scandalizes Mary Poppins fans and my parents (also Mary Poppins fans). I remember the fallout vividly from my youth. They were furious.

1982 Despite her "betrayal" of squeaky clean loving fans, Hollywood and pop culture reembrace the icon when Victor/Victoria hits. Her multi-octave slide in "Le Jazz Hot" shatters glass and thousands more fairies are born. Julie is nominated for another Oscar for her woman-pretending-to- be-a-man-pretending- to-be-a-woman nightclub act wherein she falls in love with gangster King Marchand (James Garner again) or "Fairy Marchand" as his arm-candy girlfriend rechristens him in a jealous rage.

1983 Julie Andrews loses the Oscar to Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice as would anyone from any year in any film under any circumstance.

rest of the 1980s makes a few more movies with Blake Edwards but nothing ascends. Bares her breasts again opposite Rupert Everett in Duet For One (1986) but few notice. You only get a shock from that once.

1990s-1999 returns to Broadway, eventually revives Victor/Victoria in new form, refuses a Tony nomination for their "egregious" snubbing of her fellow cast members. Vocal problems begin. Undergoes surgery for throat nodules and something goes wrong and she is unable to sing again. A special new circle of hell is created for whomever is to blame though...

2000 on earth the matter is settled in a malpractice lawsuit. Julie's Just Rewards: She becomes "Dame" Julie Andrews by order of the Queen.

2001 Speaking of Queens...  The Princess Diaries opens, surprising virtually everyone by becoming a smash with non-bankable Anne Hathaway in the leading role of the Princess and non-singing no-longer bankable Julie as the Queen of Genovia. The hit film will win her a new generation of young fans and set in motion a new career in children's films, albeit usually just as voice work. As in...

2010 Despicable Me wherein Julie Andrews plays the disapproving mother of super villain Gru. On October 1st, Julie Andrews celebrates her 75th birthday.

Here's to her next quarter century as one of the great entertainers of all time!

*or truthy, same diff.


Anonymous said...

Fact: Julie Andrews loses My Fair Lady job because of Audrey.
Fact: Blake Edwards gets Breakfast at Tiffany's job because of Audrey. She didn't know who then director John Frankenheimer was and made way for Edwards to get the director's chair instead.

Now THAT's what I call conflict of interest.

Damien said...

I love this woman and thank you SO much for this....

Off to do my own Julie post now ;)

WOO HOO !!!!!

joe burns said...

Yay, I love her! But you forgot to include that she was nominated for The Sound Of Music!

Fernando Moss said...

All hail the Dame!

James T said...

Amazing post! This series rules!

And I'm not even a big fan of Andrews (haven't watched many of her films).

Michael said...

It's unfortunate that she has kind of a diva reputation


Damien -- thanks. glad someone enjoyed. where is everyone tonite?

okinawa -- i didn't knwo this. strange.

joe -- i didn't forget so much as included only so much ;) i think she's so super in The Sound of Music but i can understand not winning two years in a row, especially when you're up against the Sunshine Girl.

Tan said...

Wonderful post. I love Julie!

MRRIPLEY said...

my fave julie drama perf is duet for one and she woulda been amongst my 86 actress nominees with matlin,turner,weaver & bancroft.

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Julie :-)

You are incredibly beautiful and have an amazing voice.

Now... return that 1964 Oscar to someone who actually deserved it, and then advise your "My Fair Lady" rival Audrey Hepburn to follow the pattern.

principessa1121 said...

Happy Birthday, Julie!!! I love this woman. Just recently discovered her "Mamas Rap" video with Carol Burnett, and LMAO. Hilarious! :)

kent said...

i always think ANDREWS VS CHRISTIE in 1965. two are both polar opposite british imports that made it BIG around the same time (though andrews was there for a while)

my fav andrews performance is THE SOUND OF MUSIC, but on a different day i'll prob switch to MARY POPPINS ;) too many riches


I'm happy to see the Julie fans come out of hiding in this comments section. There needs to be more of us. Is any voice as heavenly as hers?

(i mean besides Judy Garland)

as said...

my fave julie drama perf is duet for one and she woulda been amongst film my 86 actress nominees with matlin,turner,weaver & bancroft.

Patricia Perry said...

Great post.

I hero-worshipped Julie as a kid,and spend countless hours singing along with soundtrack albums from "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music" tyring to sound just like her. (With little success, I might add. It's not that I can't sing, but that I will never, in my wildest dreams, be a colatura soprano.)

In 1996 I was lucky enough to see her onstage in the pre-Broadyway tryout for "Victor Victoria," and I can attest that she has an amazing "star" presence in live performance.

And speaking of "Star," I know it was a bomb, and yet I still kind of get a kick out of it. It used to show up on TV, very late at night from time to time.

Marissa Skudlarek said...

Did anyone else, when they were little, read the children's books that Julie wrote under the name Julie Andrews Edwards--"The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles" and "Mandy"? I loved them! And was amazed that their author was the same woman who sang so beautifully in "The Sound of Music" and on the "My Fair Lady" cast album.

chris na Taraja said...

YOu are totally hysterical. I truly LOL a few times.

You do realize of course if Julie did MY FAIR LADY, there would be no Julie in MARY POPPINS or THE SOUND OF MUSIC. both films were shooting at the same time as LADY.

Andrew R. said...

Deserved the Oscar for Mary Poppins, should've been in My Fair Lady, is quite good in Victor/Victoria, best part of the vastly overrated Sound of Music, just as bad as the rest of the Throughly Modern Mille cast (that is, ridiculously bad).

A good actress, overall.

Sid said...

Loved this bit:

1983 Julie Andrews loses the Oscar to Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice as would anyone from any year in any film under any circumstance.

... WORD!

Anonymous said...

my fave julie drama perf is duet for one and she woulda been amongst film izle my 86 actress nominees with matlin,turner,weaver & bancroft.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your history of the great, talented and forever beautiful Julie Andrews. What a wonderful singer and actress! Time has been her friend, and an Oscar is something that totally suits her, no matter for what film - Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Duet for One, Victor/Victoria - Dame Julie rocks! A treasure - that's what she is - whose beauty, talent, class, great sense of humor, generosity and charms make her one of our favorite things!

waldemar Lopes said...

I have written above about the great, talented and forever beautiful Julie Andrews. Waldemar Lopes, Brazil

Lorena F. Pimentel said...

Bow down to the true Dame! I absolutely love this woman and I thank you for this homage.

As she'd say it herself by the end of each episode of the wonderful Julie Andrews Hour, time - most definitely - is her friend.

Anonymous said...

Only thing, Julie has only one natural child. Two are step children and two are adopted. But I agree there is no one like her. She deserves to be a diva. Beautiful, graceful, generous, and empathetic.

Anonymous said...

Julie Andrews is awesome. She's like a full parade of talents! She has brought so much joy to this world! She's such a blessing. Way to Go Jules! You rock!

Simon said...

I vaguely recall her singing again in the sequel to The Princess Diaries. And it was real singing, not humming or under her breath or anything. It made me happy.

Anonymous said...

I simply adore this woman. Julie Andrews is not only amazingly talented but also freaking gorgeous. Just please give her the Tony Award, she already has all the rest already (Academy Award, Grammy, Emmy, BAFTA, Golden Globe, SAG, People's Choice and many others)or maybe she may rule her own country since she is a real queen you know.

Anonymous said...

It is not correct that, had she done MY FAIR LADY, she would not have been able to do either MARY POPPINS or THE SOUND OF MUSIC. MP was finished before a frame of MFL was shot and MFL was finished before a frame of TSOM was shot. She could, in fact, have done all three (now, that would have been a perfect world to live in). However, she would not have been able to do the film she has said is her personal favorite--THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, which was shooting at the exact same time as MFL. The role in EMILY would have been a natural for non-singer Audrey, though the exchange of roles would have thus prevented the lifelong friendship Julie had with wonderful James Garner from developing.

Oh, and daughter Emma was born in 1962. Not 1960.

Michael said...

It is not true that, had she made MY FAIR LADY, she would not have been able to make either MARY POPPINS or THE SOUND OF MUSIC. MP was finished filming before a frame of MFL was shot, and MFL was finished before a frame of TSOM was shot. She could have done all three (and what a perfect world that would have been!). However, she would not have been able to do the film she has said is her personal favorite--THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, which was shoooting in Hollywood at the exact same time as MFL. The role of EMILY would have been a natural for non-singer Audrey, though role reversal would have thus prevented the lifelong friendship Julie has with wonderful James Garner from ever developing.

Oh, and--for the record--her daughter Emma was born in November 1962. Not sure why the OP listed that as being in 1960, like CAMELOT.

Jane C said...

Great article! You left out her contributions to the Shreck films as the Queen! Julie only had one biological child - Emma. She was step-mother to Blake's two children and they adopted two Vietnamese orphans.