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Friday, August 23, 2019

Deep Dive Rewind: Mary Poppins, Part Five

After a short delay due to Julie Andrews’ pregnancy, filming on Mary Poppins began. The film would use state of the art technologies to bring the magical world of Mary Poppins to life. While the shoot itself was a breeze when the scene didn’t have special effects, some of the technology caused huge issues with the cast. For example, the picture used an audio animatronic bird that required Julie Andrews to wear heavy cables under her costume. Needless to say, she was not very happy about it.

Many of the special effects used in Mary Poppins were devised by Disney Legend Ub Iwerks. If you recall Disney history, that name should ring a bell. Ub Iwerks was the only animator who stayed with Walt Disney after Oswald was taken by Universal Pictures and animated the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons. Mr. Iwerks was made a partner in the business, owning a third share of Walt Disney Productions. When Walt Disney’s second distributor tried and failed to steal the Mickey Mouse copyrights, he convinced Ub Iwerks to jump ship and go out on his own. Mr. Iwerks cashed out his shares for $4,000, devastating Walt Disney who could barely afford to buy him out. (That stake would be worth about $60 Billion today.) After his solo efforts failed, Ub returned to Disney on the condition that he not be asked to work in the animation department. Walt Disney let Ub work on his own projects, which laid the groundwork for the special effects used in Mary Poppins.

The production completed, the film would go into post production to incorporate Ub’s special effects with the live action footage. Walt Disney was nervous about how the public would receive the picture. Would the film be worth the Herculean effort he put into making it?

Mary Poppins would be huge. Not only would it become beloved by the public, it would be critically acclaimed, winning Oscar nominations in the major categories, winning for Best Actress, Best Original Song and in technical categories. The financial windfall would be put to good use by Walt Disney, who would invest some of the company’s profits into DISNEYLAND, adding new attractions that are still enjoyed today. (The division charged with designing and building these attractions was named MAPO after the film.)

The years have further cemented the film’s legendary status. Its stars have been immortalized at the Magic Kingdom; Julie Andrews became an honorary DISNEYLAND Ambassador and had a horse at King Arthur’s Carrousel named after her. Dick Van Dyke has been honored at the park’s Jolly Holiday Bakery, which is itself a tribute to the film. Mary Poppins continues to be loved and watched by millions the world over.