Born Julia Wells on October 1, 1935, just outside of London she soon began to learn both tap and ballet from an Aunt. Julie's mother Barbara took a job as a pianist in a music hall where one of the performers was a singer named Ted Andrews. Soon they were a musical duo and toured Britain.
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In 1939, when Julie was four, Barbara and Ted Wells got divorced. Ted Andrews and Barbara were married. Julie's voice lessons began with her step father and she was sometimes a part of he and his wife's act. It was at this time that Julie changed her last name to Andrews simplify the billing of their act.
At the age of eight, Julie began to study voice with Lillian Stiles-Allen. With lessons four days a week, Lillian and Julie not only became quite close but refined her amazing four-octave range. Her early childhood consisted primarily of touring and studying voice. By the end of WWII the family came to settle in the same suburb of London where Julie was born, Walton-on-Thames.
On December 5, 1946, at Stage Door Canteen, Julie's first performance alone was attended by Queen Mother Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. When Julie turned twelve, she outgrew the regulation's against children performers that included: performing in a show more than one year and being in a theatre after ten-o'clock, and was cast in Starlight Roof which opened at the London Hippodrome on October 23, 1947.
Julie continued to delight British audiences performing regularly on BBC radio shows and appearing pantomimes. She landed her first dramatic role in a new play, Mountain Fire , which was seen by Cy Feuer, who liked her performance and thought she would be perfect for his new musical. After much consideration Julie agreed to a one year contract performing on Broadway in The Boy Friend . Her later theatre musicals include My Fair Lady , Camelot , and most recently Victor / Victoria .
Walt Disney made a trip to see Camelot and was delighted. He thought she would be excellent in his new live action movie. After her performance he asked her to be a part of Mary Poppins Julie didn't answer immediately because she hoped that she would be cast in the film version of My Fair Lady . Audrey Hepburn was ultimately cast as Eliza Doolittle and Julie accepted the role as Mary Poppins, thus beginning her movie making career. Sixteen films would follow. Many were musicals but often Julie would act in drama and comedy films that were not.
Another medium that has been utilized by Julie is that of television. Julie's first television special guest starred Gene Kelly and received good reviews. Julie appeared in a television movie titled "High Tor" with Bing Crosby in 1956. This film is a bit odd and centers on Bing's character not wanting to sell his mountain, Tor, to developers. A band of ship-wrecked Dutch spirits enters the scene & Julie's character is one of them. Bing's girlfriend has left him because he is too concerned w/ the mountain & so he hooks up with the 16th century Julie spirit & both try to forget their troubles for a while. This whole film was produced by Ford & features the 1956 Arkansas high-way department driving around.
"Cinderella" , a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, written for her, was viewed by 107 million people, an amazing figure, especially in 1957. The story-line is pretty conventional. There's a slight twist at then end, however. Where we expect Julie's character to be found in the cottage, try on the shoe & live happily ever after, we find her running away & then being found at court, where she puts on the shoe, narrowly escaping being arrested for trespassing. There's quite a bit of humor present as the two step-sisters whine about how they never find a man. Best of all, however, is the commercial about half-way through which features a woman at a party looking for her prince while the refrain music from the film plays, she then spots a man & he offers her a Pepsi. Life becomes perfect as she looks into the cool bottle of cola that awaits her. I hear that a colourised version is being prepared. It was originally shown in color in the east. A kinescope version recorded during a dress rehearsal was aired on the west.
Over the years Julie has performed with her long-time friend Carol Burnett on numerous occasions. She starred in her own show titled "The Julie Andrews Hour". "Our Sons", a 1991, ABC made for TV movie, is about a wealthy widow who finds out that her son is dying of AIDS. She and her son's lover's mother, played by Ann-Margret, come together and learn about each other and accept their sons for who they are.
After losing a bet with her daughter that she could stop cursing, Julie wrote the first of her two children's books titled Mandy, published in 1971. The second, written three years later, titled The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles takes it's title from a word Julie found in the dictionary one day.
At sixty-two, Julie Andrews has performed in some of the best loved musicals and films ever. Her warm, rich voice, ready wit and wonderful acting performances have assured her a highly-positioned place in the world of entertainment for years to come.
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