Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home by Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews. Home: A Memoir of My Early Years. New York: Hyperion. 2008.

Julie Andrews titled her autobiography “Home” after the first word she spoke; a word that remains important throughout her life.

Julie Andrews’s first acting appearance was in a pre-school program at age 3. When a friend’s hat covered her eyes, Julie Andrews helped guide her friends. She cites this as how she “already knew that the show must go on.”

Her parents were professional singers. She traveled with them on their singing tours. She also took piano lessons and began studying and living the show business life.

At age 12, Andrews made her singing debut singing in a musical review. The previews were very positive. She counts this as the first major break in her career.

Julie Andrews soon afterwards was performing twice a night, six days a week. Self-critical, she kept a record of how she thought each performance went. She was invited to a screen test at MGM Studios in Elstree, England, yet the result was “she’s not photogenic enough for film.”

This did not dissuade her from taking acting lessons. She claims she was awful, at first. She also took guitar lessons. She was able to play piano but was unable to read music. She received a Royal Command Performance.

Julie Andrews with her parents performed pantomime at the London Casino.

At age 17, Julie Andrews fretted about her future. Her signing voice was changing. Then she received the lead in “Cinderella” at the London Palladium and she knew the direction she wanted her life to go. She thought, though, that while she would remain in acting, that her career had already reached its zenith.

Andrews toured America in the play “The Boy Friend”. This success helped led her to a role in the Broadway play “My Fair Lady”.

Julie Andrews notes she is often asked for her thoughts of not being cast in the movie “My Fair Lady”. She admits she wishes she had been cast yet she understands that Warner Brothers needed a more famous person to be in the movie, namely Audrey Hepburn. She writes how she and Audrey Hepburn later became friends and that Hepburn told her “Julie, you should have done the role…but I didn’t have the guts to turn it down.”
Julie Andrews then found more theater success in the Broadway play “Camelot”. She notes how actor Richard Burton could alter his role and some nights play the role dramatically to a silent and enthralled audience and other nights play the role comedic and have the audience laughing.

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