A History of... Julie Andrews

Posted by julian On 4:24 PM
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 ...here 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.

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