Julie andrews as a child

Julie Andrews: Our Fair Lady, Indeed

She wears her hair swept back from a smooth forehead, a brave choice for any woman over 50. The hair is cropped short, as it has been since her earliest publicity photos, although the wavy layers of today are more sophisticated than the shiny cap of light brown or auburn that used to make her look so, well, cute. Gifted by genes (and a little plastic surgery) with a firm jaw and cheekbones, and by her dance teacher aunt with superb posture, Andrews is an inspired example of aging gracefully. She, typically self-deprecating, suggests the honors are coming because she is old and fat, a description that would be apt only if she were paired with someone like the emaciated Gwyneth Paltrow.

She is also a star. She has always been reluctant to claim that mantle, but she has whatever it is that makes the eye go directly to her, whether onstage or off. Her most recent role, the queen/grandmother in “The Princess Diaries,” exploited the same qualities she exudes in person: a regal carriage, graciousness and a desire to make mischief that seems slightly self-conscious.

While Andrews was making “The Sound of Music” she made up bawdy lyrics to “My Favorite Things,” Burnett says, and she is known for cracking the occasional off-color joke. She loves hearing about the parodies of her in “Forbidden Broadway” and the recent “Singalong Sound of Music” phenomenon. Of course, no one would find her sense of humor remarkable if she didn’t have that perfect English accent, uncorrupted by 45 years in the United States, and that goody-two-shoes shadow.

“I don’t knock them at all,” she says of the films that gave her that image. “Somebody says, ‘Would you like to do “The Sound of Music” and star in the movie?’ What’s luckier than that? It is my enormous good fortune — one of those movies that comes around once in a generation. . . . I recognize that it has a squeaky-clean image. . . . Certainly, these days the body of work has dealt with that. But I would never knock it.”

“Sound of Music” was a movie that critics loathed but audiences loved, to the point that it became, internationally, one of the top-grossing movies of the time. But still, Andrews cannot remember knowing that she was a Star.

“There wasn’t a point when I thought that, but I’ll tell you what did happen,” she says, relaxing into a soft couch in a Carlyle Hotel suite. “Having done vaudeville for so many years, one was to recognize that I may have gotten to the point that I didn’t need to go back to those days. And by that I mean the real touring, endlessly. And secondly was in the days of ‘Camelot,’ I think. And that was to see a beautiful dress and then realize, well, I can buy that dress! That was when I really felt like a star, you would say.”

By all accounts, Andrews may be a star, but she has never become a diva. She is always the one who carries a “Mary Poppins bag,” as Burnett calls it, filled with throat lozenges or Vitamin C fizzies to soothe whatever ails a colleague. The closest she’s come to making a scene (as far as we know) was when she turned down a Tony nomination for “Victor/Victoria” because no one else in the production, including her husband as director, had been nominated. She made the announcement from the stage after a performance, and (some point out cattily) the publicity sold tickets, too.

That show was the first time she felt like a leader, she says, someone with power and authority. And she took it very seriously. “It was such a joy to be the sort of figurehead for that company and hold them all together. I am very family-oriented, possibly because when I was growing up there wasn’t an enormous amount of it. But we were a great team and that was tremendous fun.”

The stoicism, the stiff upper lip, the quality friends describe as being “realistic” and the sense of just getting on with it and getting the job done come from her childhood and youth. After her great voice was discovered, she played theaters in regional outposts of Britain, first trailing along with her mother and stepfather, who drank too much and failed to become stars, and then with them trailing after her. It was the dying days of vaudeville, the mid- to late 1940s.

“Self-pity and all those kind of things are booted out quite quickly,” she says. “I think that I am to some extent driven by . It’s just been so much a part of my life, all of my life.”

Burnett says that spending her adolescence in show business could have destroyed Andrews, but instead “it helped give her backbone.” The price was that she never went to college, and for a long time she felt undeveloped.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a rather late bloomer,” Andrews says. “And by that I mean in my brain and my head. All the things that I’m keen about and excited about — I was so busy for so long, just doing, because it was part of the family and beginning to learn about who I was. I think my development was slightly retarded. Although the career was going forward, the brain was rapidly trying to catch up. So now I am so enjoying all the benefits that my age brings. I can now flex muscles I wasn’t able to flex before.”

Part of her self-discovery was a five-year course of psychoanalysis undertaken in her thirties. It helped her to get through some years when the film roles dried up and to roll with the ebbs and flows of a Hollywood marriage. There were four years between “Darling Lili” and “The Tamarind Seed” (with television like “The Julie Andrews Hour” and “Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center” in between). And five more years before “10,” the third film she did with Edwards and one in which she was upstaged by Bo Derek.

Some critics feel she allowed her husband, a mercurial, talented and outspoken director, to dictate the course of her career, steering her into too many of his self-indulgent projects like “That’s Life!” and “S.O.B.” She doesn’t see it that way.

“I feel very clear about it,” she says. “To some extent he has, in that he’s offered me wonderful roles that no one else was at the time, and it’s very hard to turn down nice roles like “Victor/Victoria” or “S.O.B.,” which was such fun. They weren’t coming in every day. And he’s one of the best. We both enjoyed it. . . . The truth is that to a great extent any artist does what comes across their desk at a particular time. You do it for financial reasons, you do it because it turns you on, you do it because you love the director or whatever. These days one can pick and choose a little bit. But especially when you’re forging a career, it’s all a question of fortune and what comes by.”

Andrews has also written children’s books (as Julie Andrews Edwards), three with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, who, with her husband and Sybil Burton Christopher, also manages the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, N.Y. Andrews’s first husband, Tony Walton, illustrated the three “Dumpy” books. Andrews and Hamilton, 37, are also starting their own imprint at HarperCollins, for which they will write and find children’s books that illustrate “awareness of the wonders of life, and provide them with appropriate themes, like nonviolence.”

She is at work on an autobiography, “long overdue,” and contemplating a foray into directing. There are some possible movie projects for next year as well. Meanwhile, she and Edwards are settling into a new, smaller residence in Los Angeles and replacing a large Sag Harbor house with a smaller one. Their main home is still in Switzerland, where they have retreated for 30 years.

The children are all settled. Jennifer Edwards, 44, is an actress, writer and mother. Geoffrey Edwards, 42, is a director and producer. The two youngest, Joanna, 26, and Amy, 27, who were adopted from Vietnam, “are just finding their way in life,” one working for a firm of interior decorators and the other in real estate. There are five children who have a “Granny Jools.” Andrews is a goodwill ambassador for UNIFEM, the fund at the United Nations that promotes human rights for women and works to end violence against women.

Andrews has no second thoughts about a career in show business. Entertainment has a purpose, she says, and it can be a worthy one.

“I think a certain amount of joy is not a bad thing at all. To help people forget, in general, that they have problems with their taxes or the kids are creating havoc at home, that for a few hours you can give them a new thought or take them out of it, is very pleasant. I love that aspect of the business. And you constantly hope that you are able to do that.”

“When she sings, she is in the moment. And so the audience is in the moment,” says Carol Burnett of Andrews, shown in “The Sound of Music.”Clockwise from near left, Andrews in the gender-bending “Victor/Victoria,” in the “Mary Poppins” title role, with Rex Harrison in a stage production of “My Fair Lady” and earlier this year at a music awards show.

After the tummy tuck, the forehead tightener, the nose job and the jowl trim, something still might be giving away your age: your voice.

For patients who think their trembly, raspy or wispy words don’t match their newly firm face and figure, there’s a procedure that claims to make them sound younger too: the voice lift.

“There are people who pay $15,000 for a face lift and as soon as they open their mouth, they sound like they’re 75,” said Dr. Robert Thayer Sataloff, chairman of the otolaryngology department at Graduate Hospital. “The wobbles, the tremors, they’re what we recognize as things that make a voice sound old.”

Though it’s not new, cosmetic surgery for the voice is only just becoming more widely known — and requested — among the general public, said Dr. V. Leroy Young, a St. Louis plastic surgeon and chairman of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ emerging trends task force.

Like everything else, vocal cords show their age. A lifetime of talking, yelling and singing can make the cords — and the voice — coarse.

So Sataloff plies his patients’ pipes with exercises and, in some cases, cosmetic voice surgery. There are two general surgical remedies: Implants can be inserted through an incision in the neck to bring the vocal cords closer together, or substances like fat or collagen can be injected to plump up the cords and restore their youthful limberness.

Such procedures used to be largely performed on people with voice-robbing diseases or injuries, but Sataloff noticed that his patients’ voices usually sounded better afterward, too. And increasingly, those with craggy or cracking voices are seeking the procedure for aesthetic reasons, he said.

“If I spoke a great deal, or I was shouting, on a particular day, at the end of the day I would feel exhausted,” said Robert Anzidei 75, a retired construction superintendent who underwent the voice surgery and therapy several years ago. “I don’t know if I sound younger, but the hoarseness is gone, which is such a great improvement.”

Still, there can be drawbacks with vocal surgery when patients are under general anesthesia, Young said. Unlike patients who are awake and can speak, they can’t have their voices fine-tuned as the operation is under way — so there’s no certainty about what they’ll sound like in the end.

“It can benefit people who may be getting toward the end of a singing career, it can benefit people like politicians and teachers who need to have a strong voice that carries,” Young said. “I’d say caveat emptor for the professional singer, but if you’re a teacher and you don’t want to sound like Marlene Dietrich, it’s something to consider.”

Singer Julie Andrews was one person who found out the hard way that vocal operations don’t always work. She was performing on Broadway in the mid-’90s when she began having voice trouble, so she underwent surgery to remove non-cancerous nodules.

The operation left her without her renowned four-octave singing voice and she sued two doctors and Mount Sinai hospital in New York. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2000 with no terms disclosed.

More than 8.7 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in 2003, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. There were no statistics on how many of those were for voices, but doctors said the number would be very small.

Julie Andrews on losing her voice after an operation: ‘I went into a depression’

2 October 2019, 11:12

Julie Andrews lost her voice after an operation. Picture: PA

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

After having vocal surgery to remove ‘nodules’, Julie Andrews was left with permanent damage that destroyed her four-octave soprano voice.

Julie Andrews, the 84-year-old soprano and musical theatre legend, has opened up about the 1997 operation that caused her to lose her singing voice, saying: ‘I went into a depression’.

“When I woke up from an operation to remove a cyst on my vocal cord, my singing voice was gone,” she told AARP The Magazine for their October/November 2019 issue.

“I went into a depression. It felt like I’d lost my identity.”

Andrews, who won an Academy Award for her starring role in Mary Poppins (1964), first noticed her voice was hoarse during a Broadway show in 1997.

Shortly after, she had surgery to remove what she thought were ‘non-cancerous nodules’ from her throat at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. The surgery left her with permanent damage that destroyed her voice.

Julie Andrews had surgery that permanently destroyed her singing voice. Picture: Getty

In 1999, Andrews filed a malpractice suit against the doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital. The lawsuit was settled in September 2000.

Ten years later, the Sound of Music actress revealed that she did not have cancer or nodules but was suffering from ‘a certain kind of muscular striation’ on her vocal cords, after straining her voice while making Victor/Victoria – the 1982 comedy directed by her late husband, Blake Edwards.

Read more: Emily Blunt was intimidated by filling Julie Andrews’ shoes in Mary Poppins >

Andrews has since had several unsuccessful operations to repair her voice. Fortunately, around the time of operation, a new path opened up for the singer.

“But by good fortune,” she tells AARP, “That’s when my daughter Emma and I had been asked to write books for kids,” she said. “So along came a brand-new career in my mid-60s. Boy, was that a lovely surprise.”

“But do I miss singing,” she added. “Yes. I really do.

“I would have been quite a sad lady if I hadn’t had the voice to hold on to. The singing was the most important thing of all, and I don’t mean to be Pollyanna about how incredibly lost I’d have been without that.”

Julie Andrews is best known for her role as Maria in The Sound of Music (1965). Picture: 20th Century Fox

On being cast as Mary Poppins – her feature film debut – she said: “I don’t know what P.L. Travers thought. She said to me, ‘You’re very pretty, and you’ve got the nose for it.’ I’m sure she laughed all the way to the bank. She was very tough and canny.”

Now, Julie is starring in the TV series Bridgerton and has a new book coming out on 15 October, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years.

But it seems those aren’t the only plans on the horizon for the singer.

“I’d love to be able to paint,” she tells AARP. “I’d love to be a good cook, but I’m rotten. I don’t have the patience for it. But I have to say, I’m a very good whistler. A lot of singers are.”

Ten years before they actually married in 1969, Julie Andrews and director Blake Edwards met like ships passing in the night, the actress revealed in a 2015 interview withGood Morning Britain.

Andrews explained how they spoke briefly from their cars, outside of a therapist’s office, during their first introduction, which she deemed “corny”: “I was going one way and he was going the other, he rolled down the window after smiling a couple of times and he said, ‘Are you going where I just came from?'”

On the set of 1982’s ‘Victor/Victoria’ Getty Images

But Edwards, who directed Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Pink Panther films, had a more romantic outlook on their relationship’s origins—he once described the way they’d met as “wonderfully Hollywood.”

Getty Images

Both divorced their first spouses in 1967 and, although a somewhat unlikely pair—Oklahoma-born Edwards was 13 years her senior—began dating soon after. Their marriage created a blended family that included Andrews’ daughter Emma and Edwards’ children Jennifer and Geoffrey. They later adopted two girls, Amy and Joanna, from Vietnam, in 1974 and 1975, respectively. The pair collaborated professionally, too, making seven films together, including Victor/Victoria (1982), S.O.B. (1981), and 10 (1979).

Not everything their professional union produced proved to be fruitful, though. Darling Lili (1970) turned out to be a flop, but Andrews looks back on it fondly, anyway. “We had bonded so much that it didn’t matter,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

Getty Images

The family took a break from Hollywood in the late ’70s, retreating to their home in Switzerland—a hiatus Edwards later said “restored” their souls. The director, whom Andrews has called “one of the bravest writers I know,” exorcised his “demons” through writing, and in the process created some of Andrews’ best roles. (Prior to S.O.B. and 10, Edwards worried that his wife had been “pigeonholed” by playing such famously cheerful characters as Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp.)

Sadly, Edwards passed away in 2010 following a bout with pneumonia. Andrews called their marriage a “love story” and, five years after his death, she told Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway that she was still struggling with the loss.

“We were married 41 years and it was a love story, it was. Success in our marriage was to take it one day at a time and so, lo and behold, 41 years later there we still were,” Andrews revealed in during the interview commemorating The Sound of Music’s 50th anniversary.

“I’m still dealing with ,” she said. 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,” Andrews added.

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Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music have epitomized my idea of what a perfect world is like. Several years after seeing the movie several times my Sweetie and I visited Saltzburg and the home of the Von Trapp Family as well as Leopold’s Scrone that was depicted as the home of The Von Trapp Family. I took a picture of the ornate wrought iron gate near the lake where the home was located and always intended to have a similar gate made for our yard. That was an idea that has not become a reality for me but, I have not given up on it quite yet. While in Saltzburg we also visited Mozart’s birthplace as well as the Cathedral where his father was in charge of music. In the late thirties or early forties my parents were fortunate enough to see a performance of the Von Trapp Family Singers in Beaumont, Texas. I am, I think, more than just a fan of Julie Andrews, based on her performance in The Sound of Music. To me, this movie is another instance of God whispering to us that he still loves us.

Julie Andrews: Losing My Voice Was ‘Devastating’


The hills are alive! As The Sound of Music turns 50, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer share their memories of making the classic movie. Subscribe now for instant access behind-the-scenes, only in PEOPLE.

It’s every singer’s nightmare. In 1997, Julie Andrews underwent surgery to remove noncancerous nodules on her vocal chords. When she awoke, the angelic soprano that delighted audiences in The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Victor/Victoria was gone.

“If it had happened earlier, it would have been really devastating,” Andrews tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new issue. “As it was, it was devastating.”

Now, nearly 20 years after the botched surgery, and 50 years after The Sound of Music made her a star, Andrews reveals that her vocal trauma forced her to develop other creative outlets. “For a while, I was in total denial,” but then “I had to do something.”

That “something,” was to pen dozens of books, including co-authoring the Dumpy the Dumptruck and The Very Fairy Princess children’s series with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. “What I say in the is true: a door closes and a window opens,” adds Andrews. Had she not lost her voice, “I would never have written this number of books. I would never have discovered that pleasure,” she says.

She also might not have made The Princess Diaries and Despicable Me, films that brought her to the attention of a new generation of audiences.

“I thought at the time my voice was what I am,” recalls Andrews. “But it seems it’s not all that I am.”

For more on Andrews and The Sound of Music‘s 50th anniversary, pick up the current issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now

Julia Elizabeth Wells, widely known as Julie Andrews, is an English film and stage actress, singer, author, dancer and theatre director best known for her roles in “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins”. Andrews came to Broadway in 1954 with “The Boy Friend”, and became a bona fide star two years later in 1956, in the role of Eliza Doolittle in the unprecedented hit “My Fair Lady”. She won an Academy Award for best actress for her portrayal of the title character in the movie “Mary Poppins”. She was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1, 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. She was married to Blake Edwards (m. 1969–2010) and Tony Walton (m. 1959–1967).

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews Personal Details:
Date Of Birth: 1 October 1935
Birth Place: Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, UK
Birth Name: Julia Elizabeth Wells
Nickname: Jules
Zodiac Sign: Libra
Occupation: Actress, Singer, Author
Nationality: British
Race/Ethnicity: English
Religion: Unknown
Hair Color: Light Brown
Eye Color: Blue

Julie Andrews Family Details:
Father: Edward Charles Wells (Stepfather)
Mother: Barbara Ward Wells
Spouse: Blake Edwards (m. 1969–2010), Tony Walton (m. 1959–1967)
Children: Emma Walton Hamilton, Joanna Edwards, Amy Edwards
Siblings: John Wells (Sister), Christopher Stuart (Brother)
Others: Stepmother of Jennifer Edwards and Geoffrey Edwards.

Julie Andrews Education: Cone-Ripman School (ArtsEd), Woodbrook School
She was educated at one-Ripman School, London.
She also attended the Woodbrook School, a local state school in Beckenham.

Julie Andrews Facts:
*In 2000, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the performing arts.
*She has a rose named after her.
*She has perfect pitch.
*She was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.
*Her stepfather was an alcoholic.