Sunday, December 21, 2014

Julie Andrews


Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews is one of the most recognized figures in the entertainment industry. Her legendary career encompasses the Broadway and London stages, blockbuster Hollywood films, award-winning television shows, multiple album releases and concert tours and the world of children’s publishing.

Born Julia Elizabeth Wells in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, Julie was a child star of the British vaudeville circuit.  Her mother, Barbara Wells, was a concert pianist, and her step-father, Ted Andrews, was a tenor, and together the two had a popular double act which toured the country. Julie made her stage debut in their act, and at the age of twelve began to perform on her own in variety shows, music hall performances, holiday pantomimes, and on British radio and television.  Her school-teacher father, Ted Wells, fostered Julie’s love of reading and writing from an early age – gifts which served her well during her touring years, when her academic education was curtailed by her professional commitments.

At the age of 19, Julie was pegged to star as Polly Browne in Sandy Wilson’s The Boyfriend on Broadway.  She subsequently received critical acclaim for her legendary stage performances starring as Eliza Doolittle (opposite Rex Harrison) in My Fair Lady, and as Queen Guenevere (opposite Richard Burton) in Camelot.

She made her motion picture debut in Mary Poppins (which won her an Oscar), and her extensive film career since encompasses such screen classics as The Sound of Music (the highest grossing film of all time), Thoroughly Modern Millie, 10, Victor/Victoria (which she also performed on Broadway a decade later, and which earned her a TonyÒ nomination for Best Actress) and most recently The Princess Diaries and Shrek films.

Julie is equally well-represented on television – her weekly variety series “The Julie Andrews Hour” won multiple EmmyÒ Awards during its run in the 1970’s. Other notable small-screen appearances include the televised version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, several award-winning variety specials (including three with Carol Burnett), “Eloise at the Plaza” for Disney and ABC, and the CBS television network special live theatre presentation of “On Golden Pond” with Christopher Plummer.

Andrews’ dedication to children has been steadfast throughout her career. She began writing books for young readers over thirty-five years ago and her first two novels – MANDY and THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES -remain in print and in high demand.  She has also co-authored over 20 picture books, novels and Early Readers with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, including the #1 New York Times best-selling series, THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS, JULIE ANDREWS’ COLLECTION OF POEMS, SONGS AND LULLABIES (the audio-book for which garnered the mother/daughter team a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children), the LITTLE BO and DUMPY THE DUMP TRUCK series, the medieval fable SIMEON’S GIFT, the middle grade novels THE GREAT AMERICAN MOUSICAL and DRAGON: Hound of Honor, and the #1 New York Times Best-seller THANKS TO YOU: Wisdom from Mother and Child.

Together the best-selling mother-daughter team head-up “The Julie Andrews Collection” publishing program, dedicated to publishing quality children’s books that “nurture the imagination and celebrate a sense of wonder.”  Their books embrace themes of integrity, creativity, nature and the arts.

Andrews and Hamilton developed stage and symphonic adaptation of SIMEON’S GIFT, which was developed at Bay Street Theatre and went on symphonic tour to venues including the Hollywood Bowl, Atlanta Symphony and the O2 Arena in the UK under the banner of Julie Andrews’ Gift of Music. They are currently collaborating with Goodspeed Musicals on a musical adaptation of THE GREAT AMERICAN MOUSICAL, their best-selling middle grade novel about a troupe of theater mice who live below the boards of a great Broadway theater.

Andrews considerable charitable work has been consistent throughout her career, and in 2000 the title of Dame Julie Andrews was bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth II for lifetime achievements in the arts and humanities. Her many other honors include being named “One of the 100 Greatest Britons” by the British Broadcasting Corporation, serving as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a prestigious Kennedy Center honor in the fall of 2001. She was married to film director Blake Edwards and they have five children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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