by Cristy Meiners, producer
Recently, when I told friends that I had briefly spoken with actress, singer and writer Julie Andrews (“thanks for being here; it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show”), it was as though I said I had talked with a deity. Their eyes would widen, they would often grasp my arm, and demand that I tell them everything. But the most rewarding part of those conversations was that I could say with total sincerity that Julie Andrews was exactly as we suspected: gracious, generous, funny, warm, elegant— her on-screen charm burned just as brightly in person, thank heavens.
In 1997, Andrews underwent what should have been an easy surgery to remove non-cancerous nodules from her vocal cords. Tragically (and I’m not using that word lightly), the botched surgery effectively ended her singing career. Today, she can sing-speak, but gone are the clear soaring high notes that we all know from The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and her many other singing roles. As Andrews saw her singing career disappear, she turned to writing for solace, a creative outlet, and as a way to connect to younger people. Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, daughter of Broadway and Hollywood set designer Tony Walton (by Andrews’ first marriage) together write children’s and young adult picture and chapter books. Andrews wrote her first book Mandy back in 1971, and with encouragement from her now-late husband director Blake Edwards, she pursued writing, eventually forming the Julie Andrews Collection, which includes her own writings, as well new works by emerging authors and her personal childhood favorites. Andrews and Hamilton’s most recent book is the second in their The Very Fairy Princess series, this one titled The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage illustrated by Christine Davenier.