"Saving Mr. Banks" Opens Today!

Her voice was crisp, clear and resonated in the hallway of the Animation Building. A well mannered young woman, Julie Andrews could easily be mistaken for royalty. That's simply the way she carried herself as she moved about the Walt Disney Studio in the early sixties.

Principal photography had already wrapped on Walt Disney's “Mary Poppins.” However, those of us in the animation department were still working diligently to complete the cartoon footage that would be composited with the live-action. The Animation Building was the main facility on the Disney Studio lot and Miss Andrews had to deal with business matters in our building. Even though I had already seen a good deal of her scenes in the film, I was struck by the sight of the talented actress in person. She was surprisingly tall, had red hair, freckles and appeared much younger than her screen persona. The actress, accompanied by a handful of business types stepped into the elevator on the building's first floor. With the motion picture beginning to wind down, I wondered if I would ever see the amazing actress again.

Of course, I did see Julie Andrews in a number of motion pictures over the next few decades. The movies ranged from the very sweet to the somewhat provocative. Subject matter that might have made the Old Maestro blush. Being a dedicated fan I watched everything from “The Sound of Music” to “SOB,” an edgy Hollywood comedy directed by husband, Blake Edwards. However, the film that continued to define the talented actress was “Mary Poppins.”

I'm lucky to work in a magical business and a bit of magic happened last year when I was able to chat with my favorite actress in my hometown of Pasadena. The two of us were kids in our twenties when we made the classic motion picture for Walt Disney back in the sixties. We joked about the outdoor rehearsal facility the Disney carpenters built for the dance numbers and how the shooting schedule took the better part of a year. And, who could forget the delightful cast that included Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. And, what a thrill to be on Stage A for the recording sessions. Naturally, the Sherman Brothers were in attendance as well.

Finally, a bit of Disney magic took place this week on the Walt Disney Studio lot. It was the premiere of the new Disney motion picture, “Saving Mr. Banks” and many celebrities were in attendance. However the hit of the evening was the reuniting of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. To the best of my knowledge, the two of them had not been together in this location since the early sixties when “Mary Poppins” wrapped production. For those of us lucky enough to attend this gala event, the evening was capped off when our “Mr. Banks” cast suddenly broke out into a chorus of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” You better believe that somewhere, Walt Disney was looking down with a smile on his face.