Julie Andrews: A look at her life

Day by Dame


  • Julia Elizabeth Wells is born Oct. 1 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, 18 miles south of London.


  • Mother Barbara Wells takes a job as a pianist for a variety show and marries a tenor named Ted Andrews, her second husband, who gives Julie singing lessons. The parents become a double act, soon to be joined by their young daughter.


  • Julie takes singing lessons from Madame Lilian Stiles-Allen, a renowned concert vocalist who teaches her pupil perfect diction.


  • Julie makes her radio debut singing a duet with Ted Andrews on a BBC variety show called “Monday Night at 8.” In December, Julie performs solo for the first time at London’s Stage Door Canteen. Among those in attendance: Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.


  • Makes her legit debut at age 12 in the “Starlight Roof” revue at the London Hippodrome, where she performs for a full year.
  • Is given a screen test by the British division of MGM, but the studio passes, saying she’s “unfilmable.”


  • Makes her first appearance in a Royal Command Variety Performance at the London Palladium on Nov. 1, the youngest performer to appear before royalty at that venue.


  • Makes her TV debut on the BBC’s “Radiolympia Showtime.”


  • Tours the U.K. making music hall appearances, eventually meeting Tony Walton, whom she would later marry.


  • Director Cy Feuer and composer Sandy Wilson discover her playing the title role in pantomime “Cinderella.”
  • Makes her debut as a dramatic actress in the Liverpool Court Theater production of “Mountain Fire.”


  • Feuer and Wilson buy the Broadway rights to “The Boy Friend,” which is running in London. She is offered the lead and agrees to a one-year contract. The musical becomes an overnight success.


  • Andrews makes her American TV debut opposite Bing Crosby in a musical version of Maxwell Anderson’s “High Tor” for CBS.


  • After auditioning for Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, Andrews stars as Eliza Doolittle in the musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” which is retitled “My Fair Lady.” The show is a smash hit and runs for two years in New York and 18 months in London’s West End.


  • With Andrews in mind, Rodgers & Hammerstein write the musical “Cinderella,” which airs on CBS and earns her an Emmy nom.


  • Andrews marries Walton.


  • Is asked to play Queen Guinevere opposite Richard Burton’s King Arthur in the Lerner & Lowe tuner “Camelot,” which runs for two years on Broadway and earns Andrews another Tony nom.


  • Walt Disney sees “Camelot” and Andrews is subsequently offered the title role in “Mary Poppins.”
  • Gives birth to daughter Emma Kate Walton in London.


  • Wins the Oscar and Golden Globe for “Mary Poppins,” as well as a BAFTA award for Most Promising Newcomer. The laurels are seen as vindication for being passed over for the bigscreen version of “My Fair Lady,” which went to Audrey Hepburn. (Hepburn was not nominated by the Acad or the HFPA.)
  • Andrews follows “Poppins,” the biggest hit in Disney history, with “The Americanization of Emily,” which earns her a BAFTA nom for best British actress.


  • “The Sound of Music,” in which Andrews plays Maria Von Trapp, gradually becomes the all-time box office champion and wins the Oscar for best picture. Andrews receives an Oscar nom and her second Golden Globe award.


  • Appears in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Torn Curtain” and the epic James Michener adaptation, “Hawaii,” both of which are poorly received by the critics; however, the latter is a hit for Universal.


  • Stars in the title role of B.O. hit “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
  • Voted “World Film Favorite Actress” at the Golden Globes, an honor she would also receive the following year.
  • Divorces Walton.


  • Plays legit thesp Gertrude Lawrence in “Star!” reuniting her with “Sound of Music” director Robert Wise and producer Saul Chaplin. But despite Variety’s prediction that the lavish production should “cause plenty of sweet music at the box office,” the film proves a costly disappointment for the studio.


  • Marries producer-director Blake Edwards in the garden of their Coldwater Canyon home.


  • Stars in another lush musical, “Darling Lili,” directed by Edwards. Despite the film’s sterling production values, it doesn’t live up to box office expectations.
  • The partnership will prove fruitful, however, as the two begin a filmic collaboration that will last through seven more films over the next 16 years.


  • Stars in the TV special “Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center,” which earns her an Emmy nom.
  • Pens her first children’s book, “Mandy,” the result of losing a bet to her stepdaughter that she would stop swearing for a week.


  • Headlines ABC variety show “The Julie Andrews Hour,” which runs from Sept. 13, 1972, until April 28, 1973, and wins an Emmy in the bargain.


  • Stars in “Julie’s Christmas Special,” also for ABC.


  • Sings many of her Broadway and Hollywood hits at the London Palladium.


  • In perhaps the apotheosis of their modern-day Henry Higgins/ Eliza Doolittle relationship, she stars in Edwards’ “S.O.B.” a scathing satire on Hollywood in which he further tweaks Andrews’ good-girl image by having her bare her breasts.


  • Earns her third Oscar nom and wins her third competitive Golden Globe win for her role as a cross-dressing cabaret performer in “Victor/Victoria.”


  • Stars in the drama “Duet for One,” inspired by the true story of classical cellist Jacqueline du Pre.


  • Embarks on a series of TV movies and specials, including “Our Sons” (1991), “One Special Night” (1999), “On Golden Pond,” and “Eloise at the Plaza” and “Eloise at Christmastime” (2003).


  • Rejects her Tony nom, the only one, for Broadway musical “Victor/Victoria,” saying she would prefer to stand with “the egregiously overlooked.”


  • Stars in the short-lived ABC sitcom “Julie,” directed by Edwards.
  • The first of several children’s books written with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, “Little Bo,” is published by Hyperion Books.


  • Is made Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.


  • Is honored at the Kennedy Center for her contribution to films and musical theater.
  • Stars as the queen of fictional Euro principality Genovia in “The Princess Diaries,” which spawns the sequel “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” (2004).


  • Makes her directorial debut with legit tuner “The Boy Friend.”


  • Lends her voice as another queen, in “Shrek 2,” which spawned her involvement in “Shrek the Third,” due for release in 2007.


  • In anointed by the Screen Actors Guild as its 43rd Life Achievement Award recipient.

Sources: Variety; julieandrews.co.uk; Wikipedia; “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows” (Ballantine Books); “The Tony Award” (Heinemann)

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