An occasional series with Thomas Myler

When Walt Disney came to see Julie Andrews during the remaining weeks of her stage production Camelot opposite Richard Burton on Broadway in December, 1962, he was very impressed by her performance as Queen Guenevere.

He met Julie after the show and told her she would be perfect for the role of the magical English nanny in a live/animation movie he was planning called Mary Poppins, based on the book by P.L. Travers. Julie politely declined, saying she was returning to London to have her baby. To her surprise, Disney said, “We’ll wait for you.”

Turning to Tony Walton, Julie’s husband, Disney asked him what he did. When Tony said he designed sets and costumes for the theatre, and showed him his portfolio, Disney offer him the job of designing the principle sets and all the costumes for Mary Poppins.

The rest is history. Mary Poppins became the biggest box-office draw in the studio’s history, winning five Oscars including Best Actress for Julie. It was the start of a stellar career and was followed by one of the outstanding movie musicals of all time, The Sound of Music.

Julie has now written Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years in which she describes her years in the world’s movie capital, the highs and lows, working alongside famous movie stars, dealing with success and failure, moving on from her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children and falling in love and marrying the mercurial film director, Blake Edwards.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own