Julie Andrews was a success on the English stage long before duplicating that success on Broadway. She won an Academy Award for playing the title role in Mary Poppins and was nominated for her performance in The Sound of Music. Additionally, she received Tony Award nominations for her roles in Camelot and My Fair Lady. Andrews worked on a number of acclaimed films with husband Blake Edwards, and was made an English dame in 2000.
Singer and actress Julie Andrews was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1, 1935, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. Andrews has been a popular stage and film actress and singer for many decades. She came from a musical family; her mother was a pianist and her stepfather was a singer.
Andrews first found success on the English stage in the late 1940s, and then a lucky break found her appearing on Educating Archie where she performed to a listening audience of millions still at the tender age of just thirteen. Peter Brough was a friend of Julie’s parents Ted and Barbara Andrews. One evening whilst Peter was visiting he heard this wonderful voice floating through the house. Taking it to be the voice of a mature female singer he asked Ted where it was coming from? To Peters amazement Ted laughed and replied, “why that’s Julie, upstairs practicing!” Peter was so moved by Julie’s voice he asked Ted and Barbara if Julie would like to appear in Educating Archie to cover the musical side of the show. Julie was delighted and with her parents blessing she appeared in the very next episode and stayed with the show for the next two series. Julie eventually moved to America where she starred in the musical The Boyfriend from 1954 to 1955. The following year, she starred 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.
Julie Andrews made the leap to film stardom in 1964 with lead roles in The Americanization of Emily, starring opposite James Garner; and Mary Poppins. It was as the lovable, magical nanny in Mary Poppins that Andrews won her first Academy Award for best actress. The following year, she was nominated for her part in another musical, The Sound of Music, which featured her in a care-giving role to the von Trapp family. Both Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music were hugely successful, winning Andrews fans around the globe. These films remain popular, gaining quite a following over the years.
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 directed by her second husband Blake Edwards. The next year, Andrews took gender-bending to new heights as a woman who pretends to be man pretending to a woman in Victor/Victoria—starring opposite James Garner and marking another collaboration with Edwards. Over the next several years, she would work on many projects with her husband, including 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.
Andrews experienced a huge personal setback in the late 1990s, when her vocal chords 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 around this time: Being made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II of England. As befitting as an English dame, she played royalty in the film The Princess Diaries (2001) and its sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004).
More recently, Julie Andrews performed as the voice of Queen Lillian in the second and third installments of the animated film series Shrek. Additionally, 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: Amy and Joanna.)
For several decades, Andrews has been entertaining and delighting audiences worldwide. In 2007, she received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for her professional accomplishments.