Okay. I know. You're feeling kind of blue because members of
the Academy didn't show "Saving Mr. Banks" all that much love last
week. There's also a number of you out there who are really, really angry at
Meryl Streep right now. Mostly because you believe that her ill-considered
remarks at the National Board of Review awards gala is what wound up costing
Emma Thompson a Best Actress nomination.
Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson at the 2014 Board of NationalReview Awards Gala
Well, look. As I already proved with last week's "Wizard of Oz"
article, I wasn't all that thrilled with Meryl calling Walt "a hideous anti-Semite,"
a "gender bigot" as well as a person who "didn't trust women or
cats." But that said, I also don't think that Streep's comments at this
awards dinner wound up costing Emma an Oscar nomination.
"And why is that?," you ask. Because the dates
don't line up. To explain: Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts &
Sciences could start voting on their choices for Oscar nominees on Friday,
December 27th. Meryl gave her ill-conceived speech on the night of Tuesday,
January 7th. And then voting closed for this year's Oscar nominees on
Wednesday, January 8th at 5 p.m. PT.
You get what I'm saying here? Given that there were less than 20 hours between
when Ms. Streep spoke at that awards gala and when voting for this year's Oscar
nominees officially closed, it's doubtful that Meryl's comments about Walt
could have had all that big an impact on the vote. After all, the nearly 6000
members of the Academy had already had 12 days to cast their ballots prior to
this point. So it stands to reason that most members had already made up their
mind about "Saving Mr. Banks" prior to the social media firestorm
that erupted in the wake of Streep's speech. Or -- for that matter -- the
second wave of online outrage that followed when Abigail Disney jumped on
Facebook & then insisted that Meryl Streep was right about her grand uncle.
Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn backstage at the 1965 AcademyAwards in front of the Hollywood press corps. CopyrightAMPAS. All rights reserved
Still, all of this talk of one actress possibly costing
another an Oscar nomination reminds me of what happened back in February 1965.
When the Los Angeles Times actually ran a banner headline on its front page
which read ""JULIE ANDREWS CHOSEN, AUDREY HEPBURN OMITTED" on
the day when the Academy Award nominations for "Mary Poppins
"My Fair Lady
" were announced.
Nearly a half century later, few film fans can recall the outrage
that ensued when Jack L. Warner announced that -- rather than Julie Andrews --
he had cast Audrey Hepburn to play Eliza Doolittle in his studio's $12 million production
of "My Fair Lady" (which -- at that time -- made this movie musical
the most expensive motion picture ever produced).
Mind you, back in June of 1961 when Warner initially snatched the screen rights
for this Tony Award-winning musical away from MGM for $5.5 million, Jack was
still open to the idea of hiring Julie. In "Audrey Hepburn" (Putnum Adult,
October 1996) " -- Barry Paris talks about how Warner & Andrews
initially spoke on the phone about this project.
Copyright Putnum Adult. All rights reserved
"I'd love to do it," she reportedly told him.
"When do we start?" Warner asked when she could come out for a screen
test, to which Andrews replied, "Screen test? You've seen me do the part
and you know I can do a good job." He said, "Miss Andrews, you're
only known in London and New
York. I have to be sure you photograph and project
well. Film is a different medium."
So sometime in 1962, Julie supposedly flew out to LA and
screen-tested for the role of Eliza Doolittle. And according to Hollywood
legend, this test did not go well. What exactly went wrong? Well, to be blunt, even back when
she was playing this part on Broadway, Julie found portraying Eliza
tremendously challenging. As Matthew Kennedy revealed in "Roadshow! The
Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s
" (Oxford University Press, January
2014), Ms. Andrews felt that ...
"I never quite got that part under control."
Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison in the original Broadwayproduction of Lerner & Loewe's "My Fair Lady"
Which is why Julie ...
... was never costar Rex Harrison's first choice on stage or screen. He found
her wooden, and ("My Fair Lady" stage director) Moss Hart shouted
insults to that effect in rehearsals.
Which is why -- when Walt Disney went backstage after a performance of
" to offer Andrews the role of "Mary Poppins" --
Leonard Mosley, in "Disney's World
" (Scarborough House, October 1990)
reported that ...
Julie Andrews as Queen Guinevere in Lerner &Loewe's "Camelot"
... Julie hesitated. Though (Walt) did not realize it at the
time, she had lost her nerve, particularly about starring in the movies. After
her triumph on the stage opposite Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady," she
had done a test for Warner Brothers, who proposed to make a film version of the
musical, and it had turned out badly. Someone told her that she was
unphotogenic. As a result, there was a strong rumor around that Warner would
give the Eliza Doolittle role to Audrey Hepburn instead, and a depressed Julie
had become convinced that she was not the cinematic type.
Once Walt realized why she was holding back, he called in
("Mary Poppins" producer Bill) Walsh and (the film's director Robert)
Stevenson and told them to offer the part to Julie Andrews without giving her a
test. "To hell with screen tests," he said. "I just know she'll
be good. She bubbles away inside like a stockpot. She has just the presence we
need for the role."
And over the next six months, Walt, Bill & Robert were
eventually able to convince her that she could in fact be a movie star. Even
so, when Andrews did finally agree to play Poppins, she did have ...
Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke shooting the "Jolly Holiday" sequence duringthe first week of production on Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins." CopyrightDisney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... one stipulation (in her contract). If Warner Brothers
did change their minds and consent to star her in "My Fair Lady," she
would be allowed to drop out of "Mary Poppins." Walt was so sure
Audrey Hepburn has already been signed for the role that he agreed.
Now what Julie didn't understand is that ... Well, if Jack
Warner had gotten his way, she wouldn't have been the only member of the
Broadway cast of "My Fair Lady" who had been replaced once the
cameras finally began rolling on the big screen version of this acclaimed stage
You see, the movie version of "My Fair Lady" was initially
supposed to have been Jack Warner's swan song to the studio that he & his
brothers had formed back in 1910. Which is why -- when it came to the big
screen version of this acclaimed stage musical -- Jack wanted to load this
project up with as many movie stars as possible.
Copyright 1942 Warner Bros. All rights reserved
So for the role of Professor Henry Higgins, Warner's first choice was Cary
Grant. Likewise for Alfred P. Doolittle (i.e., Eliza's father), Jack wanted to
cast screen legend James Cagney. And as for the guttersnipe that Higgins
transformed into a duchess ... Well, Warner did want Audrey Hepburn. But if she
wasn't available, Jack was ready to move to his second choice. Which was
Academy Award-winner Elizabeth Taylor.
There was only one problem with Jack Warner's plan for a
star-studded version of "My Fair Lady." The stars that he wanted to
cast kept saying "No." Take -- for instance -- Cary Grant. As Nancy
Nelson recounts in "Evenings with Cary Grant: Recollections in His Own
Words and Those Who Knew Him Best
" (Citadel Press, December 2002) :
When Jack Warner asked Cary to do
"My Fair Lady," he said, "You don't understand. My accent is
cockney! I sound the way 'Liza does at the beginning of the film. How could I
play Henry Higgins?" Cary
said, "Not only won't I play Professor Higgins, but if Rex doesn't, I
won't even see it."
To be fair here, in the latter part of his film career, Cary Grant turned an
awful lot of great roles down. He was Jack Warner's first choice to play
Professor Harold Hill in Warner's 1962 version of "The Music Man
United Artists offered Cary a
million dollars to play Don Quixote in their 1972 big screen version of
"Man of La Mancha
." Then in 1978, Warren Beatty did everything he
come think of to try & persuade Grant to end his retirement from
film-making so that he could then play Mr. Jordan
in "Heaven Can Wait
." But Cary
said "No" to Warren as
And here's a neat bit of trivia for all you Disney fans out
there: When The Walt Disney Company was getting ready to launch "The
Disney Sunday Night Movie" on ABC in February of 1986, Michael Eisner felt
that this TV show needed a host. So who did Disney ask? Well, as you probably
guessed by now, Cary Grant was on their short list. And he -- of course -- said
"No." But Walter Cronkite, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and even Roy
E. Disney were also approached about this part. And they all said
"No" as well.
But you want to know who else was asked about whether he'd
be interested in playing the exact same role that Walt Disney did on
"Disneyland," "Walt Disney Presents" and "The
Wonderful World of Color" ? Tom Hanks. Seriously. 26 years before he'd
actually shoot a scene for "Saving Mr. Banks" where he'd then
recreate a moment where Walt Disney was introducing an episode of his Sunday
night television show, Hanks was actually asked to host the 1980s version of
this very same anthology series. And why did Tom turn the part? At the time,
Hanks thought that he was just too young to play this role.
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks." Copyright DisneyEnterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Getting back to the casting of Warner
Brothers' version of "My Fair Lady" now ... James Cagney turned down
the part of Alfred P Doolittle for a variety of reasons. Chief among these was
that Cagney had said he was officially retiring from film-making after working
on "One, Two, Three
" with Billy Wilder back in 1961. But the other
reason is that -- having worked at Warner Brothers for the bulk of his career
-- James had had one too many run-ins with Jack. So as tempting as it might
have been for this Academy Award-winning hoofer to get the chance to perform such
boffo Broadway numbers as "With A Little Bit of Luck" & "Get
Me to the Church on Time," Cagney till said "No."
So almost by default, Warner found himself having to cast the Broadway versions
of Professor Henry Higgins & Alfred P. Doolittle in his big screen version
of "My Fair Lady." Which then made it all the more galling to the
fans of the original stage version of this musical (who -- let's remember -- had
purchased over 32 million copies of the original cast recording of "My
Fair Lady." More to the point, this very same recording sat at No. 1 for
nineteen consecutive weeks and was the best-selling album for the year in 1958.
So there were obviously a lot of people out there who were familiar with / fond
of Julie Andrew's work) when Jack
decided to cast Audrey as Eliza.
Mind you, Warner had four million rgood easons to cast Hepburn instead of
Andrews. According to an survey of would-be "My Fair Lady" moviegoers
that the studio had commissioned, having Julie play the part of Eliza would
have bumped this production's box office potential up by a million dollars.
Whereas casting Audrey -- an already established movie star in that exact same
role -- would have supposedly translated into a $5 million bump at the box
office. So strictly working off of those box office projections, casting
Hepburn instead of Andrews in "My Fair Lady" made more sense. At
least as far as Jack Warner was concerned.
Copyright 1964 Warner Bros. All rights reserved
So -- with considerable hoopla -- Warner Brothers announced
that it had cast Audrey Hepburn to play Eliza Doolittle in the movie version of
"My Fair Lady." What's more, Audrey would be paid one million dollars
to play this part, while Rex Harrison would receive just $250,000 to reprise
his role as Professor Henry Higgins.
But before this 15 week shoot could get underway in August
of 1963, there was the matter of Audrey Hepburn's voice to deal with. Though
she had a lovely low-toned singing voice, Hepburn simply didn't have the range
that Julie Andrews did. So -- in order to do justice to Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick
Loewe's songs -- it was decided that Marni Nixon would be brought in to ghost a
lot of Audrey's numbers in this movie musical.
Now these days, most Disney fans probably know Ms. Nixon for the work she did
on 1998's "Mulan
" (where Marni provided the singing voice for
Grandmother Fa, the fiesty character that animation legend June Foray then did
the talking for). But back in the 1950s & 1960s, Nixon was the
"Ghostess with the Mostest." She sang for Deborah Kerr in 1956 while
the film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The King and I
in production. And in 1961, when Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins were shooting
the movie version of "West Side Story
" all over New
York City, it was Marni who got behind the mike and then
did the warbling for both Natalie Wood & Rita Moreno.
"The King and I" star Deborah Kerr and her vocal ghost Marni Nixon
So as you can see, by the early 1960s, Nixon had kind of
made a name for herself. She was the singer that you turned to if your star
wasn't quite up the challenge of performing all of the songs that were featured
in your film. And the best part about Marni is that she was discreet. Nixob
slipped in the recording studio, dubbed the necessary numbers and then stepped
back into the shadows. Which guaranteed that your movie's star would then get
all sorts of accolades fore her beautiful singing voice when your film finally opened
Mind you, if you listen close to the movie soundtrack of
"My Fair Lady," you can clearly hear some of Hepburn's singing in
this film. As André Previn (who adapted Lerner & Loewe's score for the
screen) told Barry Paris:
There's a lot of Audrey Hepburn in "Just You Wait,
'enry 'Iggins," Every time it was humanly feasible, I would cut her into
the finished track. In "Loverly," there are a couple of things, on
and off in "Show Me," we used as much as we could.
Copyright 1964 CBS. All rights reserved
And Hepburn -- being the pro that she was -- was very
philosophical when it came to Nixon having to cover for her on "My Fair
Lady." Marni -- again talking with Barry Paris -- recalled working
side-by-side with Audrey at that film's recording sessions, where the actress
wouldthen turn to Nixon and say:
"I know this is not good enough, I want to keep trying myself," but (Hepburn)
had to accept that (her singing) wasn't quite what it should be.
But given that Marni had been sworn to secrecy about all of
her dubbing work on "My Fair Lady," this shouldn't have been an issue
with moviegoers. Except that -- in the weeks between "Mary Poppins"
's world premiere on August 1964 and "My Fair Lady" 's world premiere
in late October of that same year -- word did begin to circulate in show business
circles about how little singing Audrey Hepburn actually wound up doing in this
Warner Brothers production.
Audrey Hepburn and Jeremy Brett performing "Show Me" in the movie version of"My Fair Lady." Copyright 1964 Warner Bros. All rights reserved
And once word got out about Marni's dubbing, many columnists
in Hollywood used this as an excuse
to attack Audrey's performance in "My Fair Lady." As Barry Paris
recounted in his Hepburn bio:
"With Marni Mixon doing the singing," wrote Hedda Hopper.
"Audrey Hepburn gives only a half performance." Others criticized not
so much the dubbing itself as the fact that Nixon received no screen credit for
it and the implication that Warner Brothers was trying to hide the truth.
"I don't know what all the fuss is about," Jack Warner replied.
"We've been doing it for years. We even dubbed Rin-Tin Tin."
Which brings us back to February of 1965 when that year's
Academy Award nominees were announced. And when Hepburn's name was nowhere to
be found among that year's Best Actress nominees, "Variety" was very
straightforward as to why Audrey hadn't gotten a nod:
Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn and Wilfrid-Hyde White performing "The Rain inSpain" in the movie version of "My Fair Lady." Copyright 1964Warner Bros. All rights reserved
"Hepburn did the acting, Marni Nixon subbed for her in the singing
department and that's what undoubtedly led to her (not getting a
As you might expect, when word broke about Hepburn's
omission, the folks at Warner Bros. were livid. As Barry Paris reported:
Warner called (Audrey not being nominated) "outrageous" and took (her
omission) as a personal affront. In typically quirky fashion, he thought it was
due to the quality of Nixon's singing and released a statement saying,
"The next time we have some star-dubbing to do, we'll hire Maria Callas."
Julie (Andrews), when tracked down by the press, said "I think that Audrey
should have been nominated. I'm very sorry that she wasn't." Rex Harrison
said the same.
André Previn and Audrey Hepburn on the cover of his "My FairLady" -inspired jazz album. Copyright CBS. All rights reserved
Now comes the interesting question. Which is who exactly leaked the news that
Marni Nixon had ghosted most of Audrey Hepburn's singing in "My Fair
Lady" ? For decades, Nixon was the one who got the blame for this leak. As
André Previn told Barry Paris:
"Marni blabbed all over town that she was going to more or less 'save' the
movie. George Cukor (i.e. the director of the film version of 'My Fair Lady'),
who along with all of us worshipped Audrey got very angry. He (reportedly told
Nixon), 'Listen, you're getting a lot of money for this and you're going to get
a lot of money from the recording. Why don't you shut up about it?' "
But to this day, Marni Nixon insisted that she wasn't the one who let the cat
out of the bag. I mean, to hear her talk about "My Fair Lady," you'd
swear that she is still ...
Copyright 2006 Billboard Books.All rights reserved
... upset that people thought Audrey didn't nominated
because I did the dubbing and [that] I was purposefully trying to push that
Truth be told, if there was anyone who leaked that Marni was
doing most of Audrey's singing in "My Fair Lady," it was probably one
or more of Julie Andrews' show business buddies. As Bob Paris pointed out in "Audrey
No one particularly cared when Nixon (had) dubbed Deborah Kerr or Natalie Wood;
but they cared when she dubbed Hepburn, considering it insult to injury of
depriving Andrews of her rightful role. In any case, the beneficiary of the
dubbing fracas was Julie Andrews (herself), now the highly favored Oscar
nominee for her performance in ... Mary Poppins.
Copyright 1990 Scarborough House.All rights reserved
And Julie ... Well, she clearly enjoyed pulling Jack
Warner's chain when it came to him not casting her as Eliza Doolittle in
"My Fair Lady." Take -- for example -- this story that Leonard Mosley
shares in "Disney's World" :
At a celebratory dinner (following the world premiere of
"Mary Poppins," producer) Bill Walsh introduced a happy Julie Andrews
to Jack Warner. "Dear Mr. Warner!" Julie gushed. "Did you know I
had a clause in my Disney contract allowing me to drop out of Mary Poppins if
you chose me for Eliza Doolittle? How thoughtful of you not to allow to do it
and picking dear Audrey instead! I'll never forget you for giving me this
Andrews even made a point of bringing this casting issue up
again at the 1965 Academy Award ceremony. Where backstage after she'd won that
year's Best Actress Oscar, as she was chatting with reporters, Julie supposedly
held the statue aloft and -- with tongue firmly in cheek -- was alleged to have
said: "My thanks to Mr. Jack L. Warner, who made this all possible."
(L to R) Richard M Sherman, Julie Andrews and Robert B Sherman with the Oscarsthat they won at the 1965 Academy Awards. Copyright AMPAS. All rights reserved
Looking back on this pivotal moment in her career nearly
three decades later, Andrews had to admit that:
"I'll never know to this day whether it was sentiment (over Audrey being
cast as Eliza instead of me) that won (that Oscar) for me or whether the
performance in 'Poppins' really did," she said in 1993, adding with a smile,
"I think it was sentiment, myself."
It's worth noting here that -- when Rex Harrison won for his performance in
"My Fair Lady" that same night -- he was diplomatic as he could
possibly be. First by saying that " ... I feel, in a way, that I should split (this
statue) in half" so that he then could then share this professional
recognition with Audrey Hepburn. But that said, recognizing that he had to do
something to acknowledge Julie's win as Best Actress, Rex closed out his
remarks by admitting he had "... deep love for two fair ladies." With
the TV camera then cutting away to Julie Andrews in the audience, beaming &
applauding as Harrison exited the stage.
Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison backstage at the 1965Academy Awards with their Oscars. CopyrightAMPAS. All rights reserved
Now where this gets interesting is -- in the wake of all this brouhaha which
erupted when Julie Andrews wasn't cast to play Eliza Doolittle alongside Rex
Harrison's Henry Higgins -- Hollywood
then went into overdrive looking for projects that these performers could then co-star
in. Take -- for example -- MGM's musical remake
of their 1939 Academy
Award-winner, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." This production was originally
envisioned as the film that would finally bring Andrews & Harrison together
But when preproduction problems delayed the development of
this MGM musical ... Well, as Mark Harris revealed in his "Pictures at the
Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood
Press, February 2008)
Julie Andrews ... had been (producer) Arthur Jacobs's first
choice for ("Doctor) Dolittle
" 's female lead
Copyright 1967 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved
Now where this gets even stranger is when Andrews became
unavailable to do "Dolittle," Jacobs then turned to another veteran
Disney Studios performer, the then-19 years-old Hayley Mills, and offered her
the part of Harrison's love interest. Thankfully, it was
eventually decided that the nearly 40 year age difference between Hayley &
Rex would be just a little hard for audiences to swallow. So Mills was replaced
by the then-28 year-old Samantha Eggar. Who went on play the role of Emma
Fairfax in "Doctor Dolittle."
Which isn't to say that Julie Andrews never had anything to do with
"Doctor Dolittle." How many of you recall the stage version of this
Leslie Bricusse musical which ran in London's
West End for a year back in 1998? Jim Henson's Creature
Shop created all sorts of animatronic animals for Phillip Schofield (who played
the Doctor in the stage adaptation of that 20th Century Fox film) to interact
with. And who precorded dialogue for Polynesia the
Parrot (i.e. that wise old bird who taught Doctor Dolittle to talk to the animals)?
You guessed it. Julie Andrews.
That pretty much wraps up the "Mary Poppins" /
"My Fair Lady" movie story. Except for this interesting bit of video
from the debut of "The Julie Andrews Hour," a short lived variety
show that began its run on ABC back on September
13, 1972. In this footage, you actually get to see Julie Andrews
AND Eliza Doolittle AND Mary Poppins all together in the exact same scene. And
let me blunt here: Mary & Eliza don't exactly get along.
Anyway ... Compared to what Audrey Hepburn & Julie
Andrews went through back in the late Winter / early Spring of 1965, what Meryl
Streep and Emma Thompson are dealing with right now is pretty much a walk in
That said, I have to admit that I find it kind of intriguing
that -- while Thompson didn't get a Best Actress nomination for "Saving
Mr. Banks" -- both Meryl Streep & Judi Dench did.
"And what's so intriguing about that?," you ask.
Well, back in February of 2012, when The Walt Disney Company first acquired
Kelly Marcel's screenplay for "Saving Mr. Banks," who were the three
actresses on Disney Studio's short list for P L Travers? Emma Thompson, Meryl
Streep and Judi Dench.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in "Philomena." Copyright 2013 TheWeinstein Company. All rights reserved
Mind you, Dame Judi (because she already physically resembled Pamela) was
initially thought to have the inside track. But then someone at the Studio
supposedly pointed out that Dench was only 5 foot 1 whereas Tom Hanks was 6
foot even. And given these performers' differences in height ... Well, if Walt were
towering over Pamela, it might then seem as though the Company's founder was
using his physical advantage over this troublesome author to bully her into
signing away the screen rights to "Mary Poppins." Which is why Walt
Disney Pictures supposedly opted to go with Emma Thompson. Who -- given that
she's 5 foot 7 -- would then be a better physical match for Mr. Hanks.
Anyway, that's the story as I was told by studio insiders earlier this year.
I was bummed that you didn't mention the Golden Globes acceptance speech dig! www.youtube.com/watch
Wow, what a comprehensive article. You sure covered a lot of ground -- and that Julie/Eliza/Mary video is a gem!
Couple of fun facts:
Marni Nixon did her own versions Julie Andrews songs on the Disneyland "second cast" album, "10 Songs from Mary Poppins." With her on the album was Bill Lee, the male counterpart of Nixon, who sang for Tom Drake in "Words and Music," John Kerr in "South Pacific," Christopher Plummer in "The Sound of Music" and Yogi Bear in "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear." Marni Nixon appeared onscreen as Sister Sophia in "The Sound of Music." Samantha Eggar's singing in "Doctor Dolittle" was done by Diana Lee, daughter of Bill Lee. She also was the singing voice of Charlie's mother in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Despite the fact that Audrey Hepburn didn't sing much, I felt she did a fine job in My Fair Lady. She was extraordinary. She should still be nominated. It is shame that the competing projects were done in the same year. If My Fair Lady was delayed one or two years, Julie Andrews would be a proven star and better considered for the role.
The problem with so many filmed musicals is the singing talent isn't there. Too many actors were miscast for key roles. Musicals require excellent singing talent or it falls apart. It is sort of like Russell Crowe in Les Mis. He was good for at least 2 or 3 songs, then the his last climatic song was a complete fail.
Julie Andrews was never screen-tested for MY FAIR LADY. That is erroneous information. Her only screen test was done by MGM, years earlier, when she was a child. She received nothing but raves for her Eliza, both from New York and London critics. She was not "wooden" in the role. She had trouble with it, prior to the show's opening, but that's true of many actors.EDITOR'S NOTE: There seems to be some disagreement as to whether Julie Andrews actually did screen-test for "My Fair Lady." I've read some accounts where it does say that Andrews did refuse Jack L Warner's request for a test. But then again, there's also Leonard Mosley's version (which was published in his unauthorized Walt Disney bio, "Disney's World). And given that Mosley's source for this story was "Mary Poppins" producer Bill Walsh ... Well, one has to assume that -- given that this guy worked side-by-side with Walt to get this Academy Award-winning film, I have to assume that Walsh had some insights into the did-Julie-screentest-for-the-role-of-Eliza-Doolittle-or-not question that the rest of us don't. But then again, it's not exactly a rare thing to have someone who work in Hollywood "improve" a story as it's retold over & over & over. But in this specific case ... I think I'm going to defer to Leonard Mosley's version as told to him by "Mary Poppins" producer Bill Walsh. But thanks for sharing that additional information, John, about Andrews' early, early MGM screentest.
is a major part of it, written by someone who seems to know.
Great article, lots of interesting stuff here. One small clarification - Marni only dubbed the "Tonight" quintet for Rita Moreno in WSS. Rita did everything else. It would be inaccurate and a shame for folks to think Rita did not sing "America".
Great article, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The beautiful and multitalented Julie Andrews was the perfect Eliza Dolittle. She did not auditioned for the role, she was never given that opportunity, because Jack Warner's mind was made up - he wanted Audrey Hepburn, who really was a great star at that time, And beautiful, charming, etc, but miscast, as she, in the first place, was too old for the role of a poor flower girl in her twenties - as described by Bernard Shaw - wasn't Audrey 35 or 36 back then? To worsen things, she had an embarrassing singing voice. Warner did her a favor by hiring Marni Nixon to dub her. I had no idea how weak Audrey's singing voice was until I saw her singing I Could Have Danced All Night on youtube. Dear Lord! The academy was right by not giving her a nomination, and for many reasons, not only because of the dubbing. In fact, she did not convince as a poor guttersnipe; sadly, at times lovely Audrey was at a loss, a caricature. In the second part of the musical, she had that sophisticated Audrey look which audiences loved. By the way, I love Audrey, she was great in Breakfast af Tiffany's, and her singing in that movie was adequate for that role, for that scene. Unfortunately, she was miscast as Eliza. Ironically, Mary Poppins was the number 1 box office hit, Julie won all the awards that year - Oscar, Golden Globe, Bafta and Grammy. Poppins turns out to be a much better movie than Lady - and last year it was Poppins' 50th anniversary that was celebrated on the internet, not Lady! By the way, when you mentioned Julie's speech, when she thanked Jack Warner for all that, it was at the Golden Globes.All in all, what a great Oscar moment, pehaps the best, and what a Cinderella story Julie Andrews' was. The two fair ladies became great friends, and that was loverly.