10 Things You Didn’t Know About Julie Andrews

Photo by Peter Brooker / Rex Features

Julie Andrews is truly one of Hollywood’s greatest treasures. For decades she has graced the entertainment industry as both a film and stage actress, as well as a singer, an author, and a dancer, and has stunned audiences with each and every performance. As well as being a highly regarded actress and singer, she is also a Dame after being honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, and so it shouldn’t be surprising she has an interesting life story! Here are 10 things you never knew about Julie Andrews:

10. Parentage Surprise

Julia Elizabeth Wells was born on October 1, 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. She was born to Barbara Ward Wells and Edward Charles “Ted” Wells; however, in a surprising and dramatic twist, in 1950, her mother disclosed to her that Andrews was actually conceived from an affair her mother had with an “unnamed family friend.” Andrews did not speak of it publicly until she released her 2008 autobiography entitled Home: A Memoir of My Early Years.

Source: Weebly

Source: Weebly

9. Early Life

Not unlike a lot of people in the 1940’s, Andrews led a very difficult life in England. After the start of World War II her parents divorced and, after living for some time with her father and her brother, she was sent to live with her mother and her new stepfather Ted Andrews. Andrews has called the time “a very black period in my life,” and added that her family was “very poor and we lived in a bad slum area of London.” Unfortunately her stepfather was also violent and an alcoholic and on more than one occasion tried to get into bed with Andrews, causing her to have to put her own lock on her door.

Source: Press Association

Source: Press Association

8. Singing 

After her mother and stepfather’s careers improved, the family was able to move to a better home and her stepfather sponsored singing lessons for Julie at the Cone-Ripman School. She was then instructed by Madam Lilian Stiles-Allen, who Andrews has referred to as her “third mother.” According to Andrews, at a young age she could sing in octaves only dogs could hear. “I had a very pure, whit, thin voice, a four-octave range – dogs would come for miles around.”

©20th Century-Fox Film Corporation, TM & Copyright/courtesy Everett Collection

©20th Century-Fox Film Corporation, TM & Copyright/courtesy Everett Collection

7. Starting Her Career

The star officially began her career at the age of 11, performing in unbilled parts in plays with her parents, but got her big break when she was introduced to Val Parnell, who owned Moss Empires and controlled the most prominent venues in London. In 1947, she made her professional solo debut at the London Hippodrome and the next year, at 13 years old, she became the youngest solo performer ever to be seen in a Royal Command Variety Performance at the London Palladium.

Everett Collection

Everett Collection

6. Throat Surgery

While performing in a Broadway show in 1997, the talented star was forced to quit the show before its run had ended because she had developed hoarseness in her voice. She ended up having to undergo surgery at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital for the removal of “non-cancerous nodules” from her throat; however, she later stated it was due to a “certain kind of muscular striation that happens on the vocal cords.” Unfortunately, the surgery left her with permanent damage, leaving her unable to sing the way she had become famous for. In 1999, she filed a malpractice lawsuit which was settled in 2000 for an undisclosed amount.

Photo by Peter Brooker / Rex Features

Photo by Peter Brooker / Rex Features

5. Mary Poppins

After years of stage work as well as some radio and television roles, Andrews burst into films with the lead role in Disney’s Mary Poppins in 1963. Walt Disney himself had seen her performance in Camelot and immediately wanted her for the role of the British nanny, but Andrews actually declined the offer initially because she was pregnant. Luckily, she made such an impression on Walt Disney; his reaction was, “We’ll wait for you,” securing her role in the film.

Everett Collection

Everett Collection

4. Net Worth

So how much net worth does a Hollywood icon such as Julie Andrews have? According to sources, she has an estimated net worth of $45 million and has understandably seen a substantial change in salary over the years. Back in 1963, she was paid $125,000 for Mary Poppins and only $225,000 for The Sound of Music. By 1970, however, she was earning $1,110,000 for the film Darling Lili.

Photo by Christian Gilles/Newspix/REX/Shutterstock

Photo by Christian Gilles/Newspix/REX/Shutterstock

3. Personal Life

The graceful star was first married at the age of 24 to set designer Tony Walton, who she was married to from 1959 to 1967. Two years later she was married to famed director Blake Edwards, who she had actually first met while on her honeymoon with Walton, but states she did not become friends with Edwards until years later, and the pair were married for more than 40 years until his death in 2010. She welcomed her first child, a daughter, Emma, in 1962 with her then husband Tony Walton. She became a stepmother to Blake Edwards’ two children Jennifer and Geoffrey, and then she and Edwards went on to adopt two daughters from Vietnam: Amy and Joanna. Now, Andrews is a grandmother to nine and a great-grandmother to three.

Everett Collection

Everett Collection

2. Back To Singing

Although she continued on with acting, Andrews did not sing again on film until she appeared in the 2004 film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Andrews, along with Raven-Symone, sang “Your Crowning Glory” and was set specifically in a limited range of octave in order to accommodate her damaged voice. The film’s music supervisor said that the actress “nailed the song on the first take. I looked around and I saw grips with tears in their eyes.”


1. Career Troubles

It may be hard to believe that Julie Andrews ever had “career troubles” but, in ’70s, she did suffer from a bit of a lull and so she and her husband Blake Edward both decided to undergo psychoanalysis as a way to deal with their individual “career slumps.” After that, in the late ’90s Andrews again spent “some time” in a psychiatric clinic on order to cope with the trauma she felt from her botched throat surgery which forever changed her voice and threatened her career.

Photo by Rob Latour/REX

Photo by Rob Latour/REX

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