Walt Disney considered many actresses to bring Mary Poppins to life. He saw an elegant, refined young lady when he thought of Mary. The author of the books, P. L. Travers, on the other hand, wanted a frumpy, middle aged woman like Mary Wickes, who had famously played Mary in a one hour CBS Special in the 1950's. Someone suggested to Walt that he attend a performance of My Fair Lady to see the productions' vibrant and lovely Eliza Doolittle- Julie Andrews. Walt was instantly won over and quickly offered her the role of Mary Poppins.
There was one problem, however- 20th Century Fox was working on an adaptation of My Fair Lady and Julie Andrews was the front runner for that role. She told Mr. Disney that she would do Mary Poppins, but only if she didn't get the role of Eliza in Fox's My Fair Lady. Walt agreed and when Ms. Andrews got passed over for the role of Eliza (a role that went to the non-singing Audrey Hepburn) she eagerly agreed to become the practically perfect nanny. History was made.
It is hard to imagine anyone else in the role; it's strange how things just work out for the best sometimes. Ms. Andrews received the role of a lifetime; the role she was seemingly born to play.
In the end, Ms. Andrews had the last laugh. Nominated against Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress, Mary proved to be her lucky charm; Julie Andrews won the Oscar.
The talented Ms. Andrews quickly became an icon. She has always spoken about how much she owed Walt Disney for entrusting her with the role of a lifetime; the role that won her the hearts of children and adults alike. The Walt Disney Company has given her numerous honors, enshrining her as a Disney Legend and naming her the DISNEYLAND Ambassador during its 50th Anniversary year. She also had a carousel horse at DISNEYLAND named after her:
And the legendary soundstage where she filmed Mary Poppins and The Princess Diaries was dedicated in her honor:
These amazing honors were well deserved. After all, how else does one honor a lady who is practically perfect in every way?