Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
New Music Releases 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Friday, 31 December, 1999, 01:34 GMT
Dame Julie: The sound of music

Dame Julie: Rewarded for her contribution to acting and entertainment

To a generation of cinema and TV audiences, Dame Julie Andrews will always be best remembered as the singing star of the Sixties films The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.

But, as her New Year's honour for services to acting and entertainment would suggest, there has been much more to Dame Julie's career than these two successes.

Dame Julie, 64, has been one of the world's best-loved screen and stage stars for more than 40 years.

She has appeared in more than 30 movies and received acclaim for her musical stage performances on Broadway and in London's West End. She has totted up an impressive list of awards - including an Oscar for Best Actress and three Golden Globes.

Dame Julie in her movie heyday
Dame Julie has also, over the years, been seen trying to shed the squeaky clean image that has followed her since her Sound of Music and Mary Poppins days.

She appeared in her husband director Blake Edwards' risque comedy 10 and she went topless in the comedy SOB. She even switched genders in the film and stage show Victor/Victoria.

But ultimately, Dame Julie will remain best-known - and loved - for her sunny persona, pristine image and cut-glass voice.

Showbiz family

Dame Julie was born Julie Elizabeth Wells on 1 October 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.

She was the daughter of show people and her distinctive, clear, singing style was ingrained during the lessons she had as a child. She made her - unbilled - professional debut at the age of 10 in her parents' variety act.

The fledging star rehearsing in 1948
At the age of 12, she made her London debut, singing operatic arias in the Starlight Roof revue.

Her New York stage debut as Polly Brown in the hugely successful musical The Boy Friend in 1954 was the turning point in her career.

Two years later, and she was creating the part of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, which became one of the most spectacular hits in Broadway history. She then conquered Broadway again as Queen Guinevere in Camelot.

But when it came to transferring her success as Eliza Doolittle onto film, Dame Julie lost the role to American actress Audrey Hepburn in 1964.

Film glory was nonetheless waiting just around the corner, and that same year she secured her Oscar-winning role as the magical nanny in the children's fantasy Mary Poppins.

Film successes
Mary Poppins (1964)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
Star! (1968)
The Tamarind Seed (1974)
SOB (1981)
Victor/Victoria (1982)

The following year, she starred in The Sound of Music - still a firm TV favourite and one of the top-grossing films of all time - and for which she was also nominated for another Oscar.

Golden Globe nominations followed for her roles in the film musicals thoroughly Modern Millie and the Gertrude Lawrence biopic Star!.

Stage success
The Boy Friend (1954)
My Fair Lady (1956)
Camelot (1960)
Victor/Victoria (1995)
She then won a Golden Globe in 1983 for her starring role in the movie Victor/Victoria, in which she starred with James Garner.

A quiet period away from the limelight followed as Dame Julie decided to concentrate on her personal life. She divorced her first husband, scenic designer Tony Walton, after nine years, and married Blake Edwards, 13 years her senior, in 1970.

As far as her career went, she appeared in a number of feature films during this period, including The Tamarind Seed, 10 and SOB - all directed by Edwards - before returning to the New York stage in 1993 in Putting It Together.

Lost voice

In 1995, she was back on Broadway reprising her movie role in Victor/Victoria on the stage.

But in 1997, after missing more than 30 performances of the show, she quit for good to have surgery on non-cancerous nodules in her throat - an operation that she says has robbed her of her voice.

Dame Julie has battled with throat problems
In the summer of 1998 she made a tentative step back to singing when she recorded the vocal part of Polynesia The Parrot for the London stage show Doctor Dolittle.

But in December 1999, she took steps to sue the US hospital which operated on her throat by launching a medical malpractice suit.

Despite not being able to sing Dame Julie has not let the grass grow under her feet.

In a recently completed film version of Noel Coward's play Relative Values - due for release in early 2000 - she plays the part of the widowed English countess Felicity.

Dame Julie also writes children's stories under the name of Julie Edwards and has plans to collaborate on a book with her daughter Emma as well as starting her autobiography.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Trio of Dames lead showbiz honours
14 May 99 |  Entertainment
Andrews denies 'painkiller addiction'
26 Dec 98 |  Entertainment
Andrews hopes to sing again
15 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Andrews sues over lost voice

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories