Working over seven decades, this lady's all class

OSCAR QUOTIENT

PROS: Who wouldn’t want to see Julie Andrews walk down the red carpet?

CONS: Lightweight film in an extremely tough category this year.

To many, British star Julie Andrews embodies royalty, thanks to her classic style and cut-glass accent. But truth be told, when Garry Marshall was casting “The Princess Diaries,” Andrews was not his first choice as Queen Clarisse Renaldi of Genovia.

“I was going to cast my sister Penny but she sounded a little whiney, and tends to get ‘tiara hair,’ ” Marshall jokes.

Andrews nabbed the gig because of her “elegance and class,” Marshall says. “And she walks well in heels.”

Marshall has a history of showcasing actresses for Oscar recognition. He helped to elevate Julia Roberts to superstar status for her role in “Pretty Woman.” Andrews, however, probably doesn’t need an Oscar bump to maintain her standing among Hollywood’d elite and most well-respected.

The career of 66-year-old Andrews is remarkable. She has screen credits covering seven decades, dating back to 1949’s “La Rosa di Bagdad,” an Italian film which was also released in the States as “The Singing Princess.”

Fifteen years later she starred in one of her most famous films: 1964’s Disney classic “Mary Poppins.” “The Sound of Music” followed a year later.

“Princess Diaries” not only marks her Mouse House comeback, but, as in her other hugely popular pics, she has again scored with kids.

That’s not to say many grown-up critics weren’t also enchanted. USA Today’s Susan Wloszczyna commented “as glorious as ever, Julie Andrews proves she doesn’t have to be hoisted in the air like ‘Mary Poppins’ to float through a Disney film.”

“Poppins” brought Andrews her only Oscar, though she was nommed for “Sound of Music” and “Victor/Victoria” in 1983. Nearly 20 years after that, a nom for “Diaries” would be one way for the Academy to congratulate the actress on an extraordinary career.

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