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Wednesday's Connector – Julie Andrews

May 8th, 2011
02:16 PM ET

She's an academy award-winning actress and singer.  Dame Julie Andrews is the archetypal musical theater star, known for her role as the singing nun in The Sound of Music (1965). Still popular today, this was one of the biggest box office successes of all time and the highest-grossing movie of its day.

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews

Starting out on the vaudeville stage, Andrews was discovered as a child to have an incredibly rare range: the ability to sing four octaves.

While she played the original Eliza Dolittle in the Broadway musical My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn played the part in the movie adaptation in 1964.  Studio executives did not want Andrews because she hadn't had any experience in film and thought Hepburn would be the better choice.

That same year, Andrews accepted the role of Mary Poppins in the Disney film alongside Dick Van Dyk – for which she scooped a best actress academy award.

Sadly, an operation on her vocal chords left her voice badly damaged in 1998.

No longer able to take singing roles, Andrews went on to star in the Princess Diaries and Shrek, proving that even without her singing ability she is one of the most loved actresses of her generation.

While co-authoring children's book Simeon's Gift with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, Andrews worked hard to recover her famous voice, and returned to the stage after a 30-year absence with a comeback musical performance in  2010.

Her latest children's book installment, The Very Fairy Princess, has just been released.

If you have any questions for Julie Andrews, fill out the form below and we'll put them to her. Don't forget to tell us where you're writing from.

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Greg

    Your film (directed by husband Blake Edwards) THAT'S LIFE! was certainly one of the most personal films you made with Blake (to the crowd: the film was shot in the home of Blake and Julie, with many of their children participating in front of and behind the camera, and was to some degree, improvised by the actors). It's also a film within which your character (Gillian, a famous singer, much like, well, Julie Andrews) who is awaiting the results of a throat biopsy (and the possibility of losing her vocal abilities). Gillian has not told her husband, Harvey about the situation as he is turning 60 (and he's quite depressed and unhappy about that). In one remarkable scene towards the end of the film, Gillian has had all of Harvey's complaining she can take, and you blast every other actress that year off of the screen in that scene, it's so brilllantly done. With your own throat problems (prescient, indeed, the film) and Blake's passing, possible reflections? Much love to you.

    May 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  2. Greg

    (I live in New York City).

    May 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  3. Dwayn Smith

    From Johannesburg,South Africa:
    I would like to ask Julie Andrews what she thinks of the film & Television industry today in the 21st Century compared to what it was like back in the early 60's when she was acting infront of the Film Camera? What has changed but more specifically,what has been most dramatic change that has affected her in terms of the industry itself? (Apart from her voice operation) What is missing? What,in the world of film and stage,can be brought back to regain that "Good old days" feeling? Because I see Julie as an actress with everlasting appeal!

    Many Thanks.

    May 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  4. ZsazsaR

    Dear Miss Andrews,

    You have been a great inspiration to very many people, including myself. It is great to see you so active both as an actress and as an author! I know you have directed for the stage before, my question is, would you like to direct a film musical for the big screen? Also, do you plan to write a sequel to your autobiography?

    Zsazsa from Hungary

    May 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  5. Oswald Baruch

    As a father of two and grandfather of four I thank you, Julie, for all those beautiful, enchanted moments my daughters and grandchildren enjoy to this day...

    May 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  6. Meredith G

    I'd like to ask: what is her personal favorite of all the films she's made?

    -writing from Charlotte, NC

    May 8, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  7. Abramo

    Abramo from Athens, Greece

    Dear Julie,

    A third generation in my family is growing with "Feed the birds" and "My favourite things"!

    Were the days of "Poppins" and "Maria"

    – lots of hard work?
    – lots of fun?
    – lots of hard work & fun?

    All the best,
    Abramo

    May 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  8. Grace

    Hi Ms. Andews,
    My name Grace and I am a huge fan of yours, and an aspiring musical theater actress. I was wondering, since you have so much incredible experience and wisdom, what your best advice is for a young actress.
    Thank you!

    May 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  9. Annette (from Denmark)

    What are your ambitions for your work as an author?

    Have you preferred to perform in musicals or in movies and why?

    What are your plans for the future?

    Your role in "The Sound of Music" is iconic. How do you remember your performance for that role?

    What would you like to be recognized most by the public for?

    May 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  10. Samantha Estevez

    While re-watching Marry Poppins recently with my two young siblings, (12 & 9; I am 21) we discussed if Marry Poppins were made today if it would be as popular or appealing to children; while the movie remains a timeless classic, do you feel if it were made in 2011 it would still be regarded as such? (If it were even to be made at all?)

    May 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  11. Samantha E.

    There is a quote on your IMDB page from you regarding your Oscar: "[asked where she kept her Oscar] He stayed in the attic a long time. I just didn't feel worthy . . . When I got to know more about film, I felt safe trotting him out."

    If that quote is accurate, now that your Oscar has "trotted out" where do you keep him?

    May 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  12. John Bleakly

    What is the nature of your role in the upcoming film directed by Gary Marshall, "New Years Eve?" Also, when do you expect to film "Enchanted II?"

    May 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  13. Ainsley

    Throughout your career, you have been one of the most influential actresses of my generation as well as my parent's generation. If you could pick out your favorite role (theatre and movies) you have played throughout the years, who would you say and why?

    May 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  14. Haitham

    In Victor/Victoria you played a man (well, sort of). what did it feel like?
    Haitham from Egypt

    May 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  15. Grace

    Hi Ms. Andrews,
    My name Grace and I am a huge fan of yours, and an aspiring musical theater actress. I was wondering, since you have so much incredible experience and wisdom, what your best advice is for a young actress.
    Thank you!

    May 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  16. Lorena Pimentel

    Hello,

    I'm Lorena Pimentel, 21 years old and I write from Amazonas, Brazil.
    First of all, I would like to say that Julie Andrews' body of work as a performer/actress/writer has deeply affected my life. I'd also like to express my profound admiration and great respect for her.

    As for the question - How was the experience of working with George Roy Hill, who directed you in a straight dramatic role in "Hawaii", followed closely by one of your funniest characters, in
    "Thoroughly Modern Millie"?

    Thank you so much for this opportunity!

    May 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Reply
  17. Eric J. Alexander

    What do you think are the best musicals ever and why?

    May 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  18. Anna M.

    Of the large range of films and types of films you have acted in, which would you say has been the most fun to be in? What do you think of the turn Hollywood has taken to animated films for children rather than live action children's movies such as Mary Poppins?

    May 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  19. Betsy Pontellini

    My question is more of a curiosity. I wonder if Julie has ever really understood how many hearts she's touched through her work, and what a role model of positivity she has been to many ?

    Of course the screenwriters of her beloved films created the dialogues and scenes, and real life contributed enormously to the power of the story behind "The Sound of Music"... but it was Julie who shined through with a grace and gentleness and spunk that inspired, and a voice that enchanted.

    I first saw "The Sound of Music" as a small child, and still today watch it several times a year. It was one of the first DVDs I bought as an adult. I'm 43, and will undoubtedly keep watching it for years to come. The same is true for my mom and sisters.

    In your presentation of Dame Julie, you wrote that she was one of the most beloved actresses of her generation. I think that is an understatement: I am sure she can be better described as one of the most beloved actresses of all time !

    When I holiday each summer hiking in the Alps with my husband, I look around me, remember Julie, and at times can't help singing 'her' songs, quietly, but with a big grin– with her performance in my mind's eye. The beauty of those alpine meadows always seems to bring back to mind her gentle smile and lovely voice, which somehow seemed to give a voice to all that is beautiful, and right, and strong, and true.

    I do so hope she is continuing to have a wonderful happy life, with the fairy-tale "happily ever after" that her fans have wished for her.

    May 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  20. Betsy Pontellini

    I forgot to say, as requested, where I'm writing from: Italy !

    May 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  21. Andreina

    Her vast talent: singing (one of the most precious voices ever... and still), dancing, acting, writing. Graciously, she has shared her talents in theater, movies, TV. She has touched the heart of people generation after generation with kindness, joy, and humbleness. She has devoted her efforts to support theater, arts and many other good causes (Operation USA, Unicef among others), a true Humanitarian. A long life of love, talent, dedication and discipline. If I ever ask her anything, it would be: What's the secret of love? She seems to pour love in everything she does... and in everything she is and project on screen and beyond. A lovely family, an spectacular career, and a truly beloved Dame. Thanks for the many gifts of your talents and who you are. Andreina from Caracas.

    May 8, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  22. Annie

    Your book "Mandy" is one of my favorite books of all time. Are there currently any plans to, or have you ever wanted to see it turned it into a movie?

    May 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  23. Yosef Malone

    Does Julie Andrews really ahve a facebook account or are there multiple people out there that set one up under her name? If so, which one is her actual facebook account? Does she have a fan club here in the USA?

    A very good friend of mine Phil Nemy was the Exec Producer for the Princess Diaries. Did Dame Andrews ever meet Mr Nemy?

    May 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  24. David R

    Dear Ms. Andrews,

    When I was a boy of about 12 and "The Sound of Music" opened in central North Carolina, you quickly became my very first movie star crush.

    I saw the movie three times in its' first run. The second and third viewings were to spend more time with you. I thought you were the most attractive woman I had ever seen in my life. I had a picture of you inside my locker door during junior high school and the third time I watched "The Sound of Music" I dressed as if for a date and went by myself. I was absolutely smitten.

    Now at 58, all these years later, I still think you are gorgeous. I felt sad about your singing voice. As a musician, I think I can understand some of the frustration you experienced but I want to tell you that I always liked your speaking voice better and its' sound still sends me over the roof.

    My question is ... How have you managed to hold onto my heart all these years?

    An Admiring Fan of Yours' and most sincerely,

    David R

    May 8, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  25. Bridget Herrera

    Hello, and greetings from Brazil! Firstly, let me just thank you for all the joy and pleasure you have provided us through the years. I grew up singing along with you and raised my daughters with your beautiful voice and films as well. Thank you!

    I'd like to know what film has been your favorite and who is your favorite leading man?

    All the best, Julie!

    May 9, 2011 at 12:51 am | Reply
  26. Ozzie Oswald

    Which books, poems, or songs help you through difficult times?

    Thanks,
    Ozzie
    Yellow Springs, Ohio

    May 9, 2011 at 1:00 am | Reply
  27. Alastair Murray

    I just want to thank you Julie for The Sound of Music and what it has meant to my own life.
    In 1965 I was just 8 years old and saw TSOM for the first time at The Adelphi in Slough – I have now seen it more than 200 times – and whenever I am feeling down or depressed, The Sound of Music is my antidote – always uplifting!
    My wife and I have visited Salzburg numerous times – Austria has such breathtaking beauty!
    Julie we Love you more than words can say. And thanks also for the documentaries you have made of the film.
    I would also like to offer my condolences for your recent loss of your beloved husband.
    Like yourself, Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as Robert Wise have left us with so much that is beautiful in a World that has truly gone mad!
    Blessings to you always.
    Alastair, Perth, Western Australia

    May 9, 2011 at 5:50 am | Reply
  28. Andy

    The Sound of Music, while a perennial audience favourite, was not well received critically when it first opened. Today it seems many critics have a far more positive view of the movie. I was wondering if your own opinion of the movie has changed over the years, and if so, how?

    May 9, 2011 at 7:14 am | Reply
  29. Doug (from South Africa)

    Greetings from a fan all the way In South Africa!

    I loved your performances in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music – they were, quite frankly, fantastical and magical. And I was so happy when we got to see you again in The Princess Diaries with another favourite of mine, Anne Hathaway. But I must say that the performance that most surprised me (and which I deem underrated by too many) was your turn in Victor Victoria.

    You were funny, charming, believable, cute, emotion-invoking, musical, honest and endearing.

    I have 2 questions for you:
    (1) Are there any other roles like Victor Victoria, the non-mainstream roles, of which you consider some of your best?
    (2) You have a lot of gay fans who have supported you mercilessly and unapologetically over the years – what does that support and admiration mean to you? Has it ever influenced any of the roles you have taken / played?

    Thanks very much for the decades of entertainment. The world is a better place for having people like you in it.

    Sincerest regards,
    Doug

    May 9, 2011 at 7:36 am | Reply
  30. Mariam

    I would like to ask Dame Julie Andrews the following:

    – Which of your classic movies (Victor Victoria, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins) would you have loved to have made a sequel?

    This is Mariam from Cairo, Egypt

    May 9, 2011 at 10:38 am | Reply
  31. Rachael

    Hello Ms Andrews,

    I do really hope you realise how much of an idol you have been for many people throughout the years, including myself. Though you might be very modest and deny what effect you have on people, there is no denying how much happiness you bring to people and how much of an icon you are.

    My question will seem quite silly compared to others, but it's one of the ones on my list to ask you (if I ever get the chance to meet you). In many of your movies, TV specials and other performances, you not only show how much of a great singer you are, but you also have a knack for making sound effects; especially whistling. Personally I can't whistle, and I was just wondering whether you could give me some advice (I may as well get advice from the best), and can you do any other sound effects?

    Thank you so much for being you and sharing your gifts with the world. I am so glad to have been born while you made such an impact on the world.

    -Rachael from Australia
    P.S. Please do consider coming down under for a vist!

    May 9, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
  32. michelle

    what helped her through the trauma of her iconic voice being damaged? i've been through a lot in my life, including abuse & a very rare medical condition requiring daily pain & regular brain surgeries, and wondered how she go through the realization that what had in part defined her was gone.

    May 9, 2011 at 11:07 am | Reply
  33. Michal Boguslawski

    Warsaw, Poland

    Dear Mrs Andrews

    like millions of people around the World I have been raised on your films and "do a dear..." was one of the first, if not THE first song I have sung in my life.

    Which of the roles you have played you cherish most? Which of them is your favourite?

    My warmest wishes

    Michal Boguslawski

    May 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  34. MusicalTheatreDR

    Dear Ms. Andrews,

    Thank you for giving pleasure to so much of the world, especially our children, with your sincerity and grace. Even with the tragic loss of your full singing voice, your career has still soared (like a kite). Bless you. My questions are fourfold:
    1. With so many aspiring young singer/actor/dancers (or, the "triple threat") that are out there today, what advice do you have for them to guard and protect their voices, especially after your terrible personal misfortune?
    2. So much of your career has centered around fantasy... What role has fantasy had in your personal life and what are your favorite touchstones of fantasy from your childhood?
    3. Your perpetual youth is undeniable, but sadly, many of your peers have not been able to maintain the same verve and stamina: what roles have you observed have smoking, alcohol and drugs had on those in your profession? And, have you seen any changes in the trends of those influences over the years?
    4. Since the tragedy of your vocal damage, you have spent much more time in film than Broadway: what has been the difference between the two in your career and what do you miss (if anything) about Broadway?

    Thank you for the generosity of your spirit and the magic of so many emotional moments in the lives of your fans.

    Paz siempre,
    Andrew Wilson,
    American Musical Actor
    Dominican Republic

    P.S. You are ALWAYS welcome at the National Theatre to give a Master Class to the amazing young generation of musical theatre aspirants here in Santo Domingo!!!

    May 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  35. Jessica

    Dear Ms. Andrews,

    Greetings from an American in Germany!

    I would like to tell you how much I have admired you since my childhood and how much joy your films (Especially TSOM and Marry Poppins) have brought to my life and to my family. The Sound of Music is the first movie I remember watching as a child. It is one of my favorite things.

    That said, I would like to ask you if it was difficult to transition from musical roles (like Maria and Marry Poppins) to the non-musical role of Sarah Sherman in Torn Curtain.

    Many thanks,
    Jessica

    May 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  36. Eric J. Alexander

    Dear Ms. Andrews I am writing from Utena Lithuania.

    I would like to ask three things.

    1. How do you rate Christopher Plummer as a kisser? How about Dick Van Dyke?

    2. Also have you ever stayed at the Von Trapp lodge in New England? If so how did that go? Any plans to go?

    3. When Billy Crystal sang at the Oscars and said "My apologies to Julie Andrews" did you have any idea what would happen before hand?

    Thank you so much. In the world of entertainment you are Batman and Robin combined.

    Thank you
    Eric

    May 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  37. Ellen

    Miss Andrews,
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your gift with me as well as the whole world. The first time I heard you sing was when I purchased my first record, My Fair Lady. I was so impressed that I shared it with my Grandmother, who was violinist. You have enriched my life more than I can ever say. When people ask me who is my favorite vocalist I immediately say Julie Andrews. I sing with the Bach Society and so music is very much a part of my life. I really don't have a question, I just wanted to tell you of my deep admiration and gratefulness.

    Wishing you happiness always,
    Ellen

    May 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  38. Kathleen in Peru

    Miss Andrews: Why was your co-star in Mary Popplins, Dick van Dyke, allowed to use that rediculous accent which did not come close to English. It ruined a perfectly good movie.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  39. Evelyn

    Greetings from Germany

    Dear Ms Andrews,

    You’ve written the music of 2 beautiful songs “Time Is My Friend” ( “The Julie Andrews Hour”) and “When You Were A Tadpole” (“The Muppet Show”) but as to my knowledge, not the lyrics. That makes me wonder why given that you’re such a prolific writer you hadn't written the lyrics to go with your songs?

    Is there any other music you have composed, still unreleased and lying in the drawer?

    Did you ever think about a release of a book with Audio CD with your own composed music and lyrics? That would be simply wonderful!

    All my very best to you and your family and warmth greetings.

    Evelyn

    May 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  40. Mary Ann

    Although I was practically raised on and developed a profound appreciation for Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music, I've really come to appreciate some of Julie Andrews' lesser recognized films (e.g., That's Life, Duet for One). A couple questions:

    What is it about acting and peforming that has kept you engaged?

    Had you not gone down that path (toward Broadway and the silver screen) what do you imagine you might have done instead?

    With deep gratitude for sharing your stunning voice and talents with us all,

    -Mary Ann from the San Francisco Bay Area

    May 10, 2011 at 6:11 am | Reply
  41. Keira

    Hi,

    Super, duper HUGE fan of Ms. Julie Andrews (nice to see others here too)!!!

    My question is, have you been approached (or would you like to be approached) to guest star on "Glee?" I think she would be PERFECT as Kurt's (Chris Colfer) grandmother. Carol Burnett did it, will Ms. Andrews follow??

    Thanks!

    Keira
    NYC

    May 10, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  42. Victoria

    Dear Ms Andrews,

    Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration and an amazing role model; you've helped me get through depression and to believe in myself again.

    My question is, is there a chance that you would come to perform to Europe again – perhaps with a show like 'The Gift of Music'? Or doing any other projects in the UK?

    Victoria, 22 from Hungary

    May 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  43. foxfyreangel

    So Julie–Do you plan to remarry?

    May 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Reply

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