Last night, I went to the Borders bookstore in Westwood to see if I could catch a glimpse of Julie Andrews signing her recently published (partial) autobiography Home: A Memoir of My Early Years – Andrews’ book comes to a halt when she leaves England for Hollywood to star in the Walt Disney Studios’ blockbuster-to-be Mary Poppins.
I got there more than two hours after Andrews’ scheduled arrival, but she was still signing away. She looked great, sounding just like Mary Poppins while chatting with old and young fans alike – men and women of various ethnicities and nationalities who had bought her book. Many of those lingered on afterward, gazing in admiration at the short-haired lady sporting a smart suit, with reading-glasses resting near the bottom of her patrician nose. (Blake Edwards, looking quite frail, arrived as I was leaving.)
Julie Andrews: An icon ‘dressed like a man’
I attended the Julie Andrews book signing with a friend who has probably never watched one of her movies. (“Wasn’t she in The King and I?”) Even so, he was visibly moved.
“Why?” I asked him.
“She’s an icon and she’s smiling at everybody and she’s dressed like a man!"
For my part, I’ve never been a Julie Andrews “fan” – even though I’ve always enjoyed her work. My personal favorite is her performance as the singing & dancing 1920s small-town girl lost in the corrupt big city in George Roy Hill’s overlong but amusing Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). And not just because Mary Poppins’ and Sister Maria’s prominent breasts are the butt (no pun intended) of a very funny joke. (Not the ending, but the segment about those pesky beads that just won’t stay in place. Scroll down to check out the clip featuring Andrews and her inconveniently “full fronts” in the opening sequence from Thoroughly Modern Millie.)
Julie Andrews autobiography review
In the New York Times, Emma Brockes writes that Julie Andrews’ Home: A Memoir of My Early Years “is full of crisp locutions like ‘poor unfortunate’ and ‘banished to the scullery’ and ‘trivet,’ a characteristically precise term that the dictionary defines as ‘an iron tripod placed over a fire for a cooking pot or kettle to stand on.’ It opens with a soppy poem she wrote about England, but what follows is a decisively unsoppy account of a typically dismal English childhood, complete with cramped lodgings and brutish relatives, which Andrews tells briskly and without self-pity.”
Brockes adds that the book suffers from “occasional flashes of the piety that some later found so annoying. … And when [Julie Andrews] gets going on how marvelous the royal family is, she sounds like an emissary for the English Tourist Board. But most of the book is painfully shrewd and written with real delicacy and pathos.”
Julie Andrews: Hot Theatrical Mama
April 25 addendum: In the Los Angeles Times, Matthew DeBord talks about Julie Andrews’ “bold […] sexiness, maternal and theatrical at the same time,” adding that next weekend the Andrews autobiography will land on the New York Times’ no. 1 spot among hardcovers.
“The success of the book has been dreamlike,” Andrews is quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times article. “But I’ve had a fairly acute shyness and reserve all my life, and now I’ve said to myself, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve got to talk about it!’"
But here’s the sexy part among the Julie Andrews quotes: “To describe now what theater means to me, and what the work feels like, is difficult … it is to do with the joy of being a vessel, being used, using oneself fully and totally in the service of something that brings wonder. If only one could experience this every night. It is as great as sex … that moment before climax. It is as overwhelming as the mighty ocean. As nurturing as mother’s milk to an infant. As addictive as opium.”
Now, check your personality and then check out Julie Andrews in the Thoroughly Modern Millie clip below.