The woman who featured so prominently in so many of our childhoods turns 80 today. Julie Andrews, star of Broadway’s My Fair Lady, and the silver screen’s The Sound of Music and, of course, Mary Poppins, turns 80 today. Julie Andrews has certainly racked up the accolades in those 80 years, too — in addition to winning both Oscar and Tony Awards, the acting legend was named Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2000 and is also a children’s book author.
Julie Andrews has admitted that she wished she had gotten a better education. According to Biography, Julie Andrews left high school and began performing in vaudeville at a fairly young age. She got her Broadway start at 19, and hasn’t looked back since.
In addition to The Sound of Music airing regularly on television, Julie Andrews has reworked her career to enjoy success with a generation of millennials, as well. Whether it’s as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s boss in The Tooth Fairy or as Anne Hathaway’s grandmother in The Princess Diaries, Julie Andrews was simply royal, and scores of tweens and teens still enjoy those movies today.
A botched vocal surgery in 1997, though, caused Julie Andrews’ life to turn sideways for a short time. She later won the malpractice lawsuit against eight doctors, saying that the surgery left her unable to sing professionally, but as seems to be her way, Julie Andrews refused to let the lack of her beloved four octave range get her down. Then, ABC News reported that Julie Andrews’ publicist Gene Schwam said the actress was “emotionally devastated” by the loss of her incredible voice, although she had been picked up to do various other projects, including writing children’s books and acting.
Julie Andrews also had a four decade marriage to celebrated Hollywood director Blake Edwards, who passed away in 2010. The duo married in 1969. It was during interviews to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music that Daily Mail asked the actress what the secret was to having such a long marriage and how she was faring four years after her husband died.
Edwards passed as a result of complications from pneumonia after battling both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression for 15 years.
Julie Andrews admitted that while there were many days she felt pretty solid after her husband’s death, there were days where she felt the heartache of his loss more deeply.
“There are days when it’s perfectly wonderful and I am myself and then it’s suddenly — sock you in the middle of your gut and you think ‘ah God I wish he were here’. But he is in a way, I think one carries that love always,” she said.
Julie Andrews has also spent time contributing to a range of philanthropic causes, including the United Nations International Fund for Women, Operation USA, Save the Children, and the Foundation for Hereditary Disease. What many may not realize, however, is that the iconic actress has been writing for decades, with a laundry list of books to her credit — and occasionally to her oldest daughter’s credit. While Julie Andrews has published a number of books solo, she has also worked with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton — her daughter with costume designer Tony Walton, whom she worked with on Mary Poppins — on a number of books.
In addition, Julie Andrews is mother to three girls — Hamilton, Amy Edwards and Joanna Edwards — and stepmother to Blake Edwards’ children Jennifer and Geoffrey. She is also grandmother to nine and great-grandmother to three.
The birthday wishes have been pouring endlessly for Julie Andrews, and rightfully so. Everyone from fans to colleagues have wished the Hollywood and acting legend the best for her 80th birthday. It is certain that Julie Andrews will see her popularity continue for decades to come, particularly in light of such hits as Mary Poppins.
In honor of Julie Andrews 80th birthday, here is “Jolly Holiday,” her duet with Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
[Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images]