Julie Andrews was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on 1 October 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. She is a born natural at performing, and she loves the stage. She made her first stage appearance at the very young age of two, as a fairy. Her aunt, Joan worked for dancing school where her mother, Barbara provided piano accompaniment for classes and performances, and her father, Ted made the stage sets. It was all too natural for her to come to be on the stage. Due to her mother’s stage ambitions for her, she was home taught and as her father was a teacher, it became convenient.
World War II broke out when Julie was four, and her father volunteered for the Royal Air Force. Her parents soon separated and Barbara fell in love with another man, Ted Andrews, who was part of a traveling concert group that Barbara was a part of. Although Julie’s father was awarded custody of her and her brother, he signed Julie over to her mother because he recognized her talent and he knew that he was not in a position to get her into the business, and her mother and new stepfather were able to do this.
After losing these two precious family members, her mother moved them into a house in London. When Blitzes would light up the sky, the little family (by this time she had another brother, Donald) would run to the subway station and stay underground until it was over, since their home did not have a basement. Eventually her mother was able to afford a ground flat, which had a basement air raid shelter. It seemed that every time she came to a more stable environment, another air raid would happen and she would lose her sense of security. It was in this basement that her voice was discovered.
Her parents would sing to pass the time during the air raids, and one night Julie was heard singing an octave above that of her stepfather. Julie was taken to a singing coach, who discovered she had a three octave range, very strange for a girl at the age of nine. Physicians discovered her secret to be a fully mature, adult larynx. Soon her voice had been trained to reach four octaves and her mother and stepfather incorporated her into their act. Her stepfather found it awkward to introduce her as Julia Wells, so with the approval of her father, her name was changed to Julie Andrews.
She only agreed to this because it was convenient, since she loathed her stepfather. The year following her name change, her mother was able to afford to move into a house, this house was called The Old Meuse. There was a yard for the children to run and play in. Her aunt lived on the grounds with them, and set up her own dance studio, where Julie continued to be instructed in dance. Her mother would often call her in to sing for friends, and one day she was called in to sing for the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Film Cooperation, and the manager of Britain’s largest theatre circuit.
These gentlemen gave Julie a role in what would be her West End theatre debut, but she was dropped from the show two days before opening night. Her mother and agent fought for her, and after stunning the producers at dress rehearsal, they agreed to let her perform. Not long after she became a start of the London stages, her parents show went downhill and she became the biggest sustainer of her family, she paid the mortgage and even helped pay for her little brothers’ schooling. But before long, she was offered a role in The Boy Friend, which took her to the United States, and to Broadway.
She became a star and after the first performance, September 30, 1954. Her name was put in lights above the title. Later came the musicals My Fair Lady (1956), and Camelot (1960). It was during a performance of Camelot that Walt Disney came to see her perform, shortly after acquiring the rights to make a movie out of the popular books on Mary Poppins. After hearing Julie whistle during a song, he was sold on the idea of her becoming Mary Poppins. He even offered employment to her new husband, Tony Walton as a costume designer.
After hearing some of the songs for the movie, Julie was sold, as was her husband. During the last part of filming, Robert Wise, who was preparing the Broadway hit The Sound of Music for film, went to the Disney studios to see clips of the Mary Poppins film, and decided on Julie for the role of Maria Von Trapp. Shortly before filming these two movies, Julie gave birth to a baby girl Emma Kate, and the irony of her playing a nanny and having to hire one for her own child, was not lost on her.
Mary Poppins was a big success at its debut on August 26, 1954, and it won Julie her first big award, a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy film, and then won an Oscar in the same category. The debut of The Sound of Music was on March 2, 1965 and it was the combination of these two films that made Julie Andrews a household name. These films were big steps for her, and she certainly did not take them for granted, but it meant the death of her marriage. Because she was filming so often, the only time she was able to spend time ith Tony was during a break in filming, or if they happened to be working on films that were being taped close together. A year after her divorce, she married Blake Edwards, a director and also a producer. She often starred in his films, which were mostly flops. She was trying to change her image, but her audience was not buying her role as these new characters, which were very different from Mary and Maria. One of these shows was Victor/Victoria (1995), for this she was nominated for a Tony award, but she turned down the nomination because the show and its actors did not receive any additional nominations.
In June of 1997, Julie was operated on for a cyst on one of her vocal chords. After this operation, her musical career was over, as she has never again been able to sing with all her previous quality. She filed a malpractice suit and it was settled out of court. During this time, in 1997 the Queen appointed Julie Dame Commander of the British Empire, for her services as an entertainer, becoming the fourth woman to be from the performing arts to be given the honor. Since that time she has taken to writing children’s stories with her husband.
She has also taken on many movies, such as The Princess Diaries (2001), and lending a voice to the animated film Shrek 2 (2004). In January 2007 she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Standing by her side were her former co starts, Dick Van Dyke and Anne Hathaway. The first was from her first Disney film, Mary Poppins and the second was from her latest Disney films The Princess Diaries. Analysis Living in England during World War II had an impact on her life because it coincided with the time that she was moving around, making it symbolic of her life at that time.
She would be lured into a false sense of security in a new home (think of the times in between bombings) and then her world would be turned upside again as she was moved away from her father, and into beaten down homes, and then again to a somewhat better home. Finally, when her parents bought The Old Meuse, she got the security she had craved from the time that her parents separated. Although her times spent in bomb shelters could be terrifying, they ended up being important because it was where her voice was discovered. Her voice ould have eventually been discovered anyway, but it was a wonderful thing that came out during a time of destruction. It was this talent that helped her parents make enough money to buy her childhood home, so in a sense, it was her voice that brought her security. Unfortunately her voice also led to her name change, and this was something that she never really liked. She never liked her stepfather, part of the reason she did not was because she felt that by liking him, she would be being disloyal to her real father. It was ironic that this man that she despised so much had such a big impact on the person she would become.
Even though her father singed her over to her mother, Julie, with wisdom beyond her years understood why he did it, but she still saw it as being her stepfathers fault and that is probably another reason why she never did like him. When he became an alcoholic she felt justified in her dislike for him. She was the family member, young as she was, making the most amount of money, and it was feeding his habit, and later her mother’s habit. Most people would say that if your parents are an alcoholic, then you two will be.
She has proved this theory wrong because if anything it has kept her from drinking like they had. She has always had a sense of duty, and knows that she cannot fulfill that duty with a drink in her hand. Supporting her family while she was so young was something that affected the way in which she has lived her life since. Her feelings about work were to just get on with it, she knew what she had to do, and she did it for her family, because she loved them. Because her mother and stepfathers income was never stable, it led her to want to not have to worry about money.
She has worked hard her whole life to make a good stable home for her family. Unfortunately it was this strong work ethic which later led to her divorce from her first husband Tony. Work always seemed to come before her family, although she tried hard not to let this happen. She wanted to find the perfect home for her family, she did not want her daughter to be caught in the constant moving from home to home that she had in her early years. She did achieve this, by having a nice home in every city that she worked in, with a main home in London, where she wanted to spend her days the most.
In London she tried to recreate The Old Meuse since this was the home that remains a dominant and needed part of her childhood. She would always be torn between wanting to spend time with her family, and wanting to provide for them. She had a very hard time trying to reach a balance between the two. It may have been her very demeanor that caused the rift with her first husband. She was receiving all these offers, and she was too nice about them, and just did not know how to say no to them. This could also be the reason for her success with her current husband.
Blake was a producer and a director, and because she was often the star of his productions, they were together more often, which led to a successful marriage. Julie always had great appreciation for her fellow actors, and she shows this when she denies her nomination for a Tony award for her part in Victor/Victoria. She knows that a show is not put on by one person, it takes many people for the show to go on. Julia did not feel it was right that she was the only person to be recognized out of the entire cast and crew.
She always knew that without rest of the cast and the whole of the crew, no production would be successful. Her role in Camelot became a pivotal moment in her career because if it was not for her role of Guinevere, and then whistling during a song, Walt Disney may not have decided to offer her the role of Mary Poppins. That movie was what helped her become famous, a world known star. Since it also gave her the first Golden Globe, it was a big confidence booster, and it opened up her world to future movies and stage productions.
Julie is a very strong woman, and instead of hiding after her singing voice was killed, she has kept herself out in the open, and still continues to be a star. Her role as Queen Clarice in The Princess Diaries has kept her in the world of the early teenagers. And her voice in Shrek 2 keeps her among the children population. She has made a new image for herself, based on her acting and not on her singing. Her childrens books are also a way to give to the children, one of the reasons she may like doing this is that she feels a need, in her subconscious, to make up for being away from her aughter so often while she was growing up. The fact that she accepted her lifetime achievement award alongside her former costars, one from her first Disney film, and the other from her last was very symbolic. It made everything she had done, everything she had went through up to that point seem worthwhile. She had finally achieved something real for all the sacrifices she had to make for her career status. She may have spent a lot of time away from her family, but now she has something big to show for it.