Who Is Julie Andrews?
Julie Andrews was a hit on the English stage before duplicating that success on Broadway, where she received Tony Award nominations for her roles in Camelot and My Fair Lady. She won an Academy Award for playing the title role in Mary Poppins and was also nominated for her performance in The Sound of Music. Andrews later worked on a number of acclaimed films with husband Blake Edwards and was made an English dame in 2000.
Early Life and Stage Career
Andrews was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1, 1935, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. Andrews has endured as a popular star of stage and screen for many decades. She came from a musical family; her mother was a pianist and her stepfather, from whom she took her surname, was a singer.
Andrews first found success on the English stage in the late 1940s and then moved to America, where she starred in the musical The Boyfriend during the mid-'50s. In 1956, she starred opposite Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle, a role that earned her a Tony Award nomination for best actress in a musical. She followed that stellar performance with another lead role in the musical Camelot in 1960, for which she earned her second Tony Award nomination.
'Mary Poppins' and 'The Sound of Music'
Andrews made the leap to film stardom in 1964 with lead roles in The Americanization of Emily, opposite James Garner, and Mary Poppins. It was as the lovable, magical nanny in Mary Poppins that Andrews won an Academy Award for best actress. The following year, she was nominated for her part in another musical, The Sound of Music, which featured her as a governess to the von Trapps. The family-oriented movie featured Andrews on songs like "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi" and "Something Good."
Both Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music were hugely successful, winning Andrews fans around the globe. The two films have remained popular over the years, becoming firmly entrenched as classics.
Film Projects With Husband Blake Edwards
After portraying fellow actress/singer Gertrude Lawrence in Star! (1968), Andrews appeared in only a few screen projects during the 1970s, including The Tamarind Seed (1974) and 10 (1979). The latter was directed by her second husband Blake Edwards and starred Brit comedian Dudley Moore along with actress Bo Derek.
In the 1980s, Andrews seemed to be ready for new challenges. She starred in 1981's S.O.B., which provided a satirical look at Hollywood and was once again helmed by Edwards. The next year, Andrews took gender-bending to new heights as a woman who pretends to be a man pretending to be a woman in Victor/Victoria—earning the third Oscar nod of her career. She again collaborated with Edwards and reunited with leading man Garner. Over the course of her career, Andrews worked on many projects with her husband, such as Darling Lili (1970), The Man Who Loved Women (1983) and That's Life! (1986).
In 1996, Andrews returned to Broadway in the stage production of Victor/Victoria. For her performance in the musical, she earned her third Tony Award nomination. However, she refused the nomination, stating that she felt the rest of the cast had been overlooked.
Losing Her Singing Voice
Andrews experienced a huge personal setback in 1997 when her vocal cords were damaged during an operation. While she never regained her powerful, sharp singing voice, she continued to act in films and television movies.
Andrews also received a special distinction at the turn of the century, when she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. As befitting an English dame, she played a monarch in the film The Princess Diaries (2001) and its sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004).
Voice Roles, Books and Lifetime Achievement Recognition
Andrews went on to voice the character of Queen Lillian in several installments of the animated film series Shrek. She also portrayed the mother of Gru (Steve Carell) in Despicable Me (2010) and reprised her role for the sequel in 2017. Declining to appear in the 2018 reboot of Mary Poppins, Andrews instead voiced the all-powerful sea monster Karathen in that year's Aquaman. She also voiced the narrator, Lady Whistledown, the 2020 series Bridgerton.
Purposely taking a new direction after the loss of her singing voice, she has written several children's books with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, from her first marriage to Tony Walton. (Andrews has two daughters from her marriage to Edwards: Joanna and Amelia.) In 2008, Andrews published the book Home: A Memoir of My Early Years. She followed in 2019 with Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years.
In 2007, Andrews received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for her professional accomplishments, and a few years later she received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. In 2015, she was honored in a Sound of Music tribute performed by Lady Gaga at the 87th Annual Academy Awards. It was also announced that Andrews would serve as the director of a production of My Fair Lady in 2016 at the Sydney Opera House, in honor of the work's 60th anniversary.
Continuing her work with children and the arts, Andrews co-created and starred in a preschool television series on Netflix called Julie's Greenroom, which premiered in March 2017. In spring 2020, with schools around the world closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the celebrated actress announced that she was launching the Julie's Library: Story Time with Julie Andrews podcast with her daughter and frequent writing partner, Emma.
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