Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's a Jolly Holiday!

1964 Lobby Card

It's been 50 years since the premiere of Walt Disney's beloved classic, Mary Poppins. The film premiered on Thursday, August 27, 1964 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The premiere, which was broadcast on television and radio, attracted thousands of fans who lined Hollywood Boulevard to catch a glimpse of the stars of the film, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and perhaps Walt Disney himself!! Also in attendance were famed Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Chip & Dale, and even Captain Hook, among others. What a fun premiere that would be to attend!!

The novel Mary Poppins was published in 1934 by author P.L. Travers. Reportedly, Walt Disney read the book to his daughters, Diane and Sharon, and wanted to attain the rights to make a film in 1938 but Travers resisted until 1961, when she gave Disney the film rights, though she retained script approval. 

Winds in the east, mist coming in...

Disney put brothers Richard and Robert Sherman in charge of the musical score. Prior to Mary Poppins, they began their own music publishing company called Music World Corporation, where they wrote a top ten hit called Tall Paul for Mousketeer Judy Harriet which was later covered by Annette Funicello, also a Mousketeer. It garnered the attention of Walt Disney, and he hired the Shermans as songwriters. Richard and Robert won two Academy Awards for their work on Mary Poppins. Dick Van Dyke was cast as Bert after Disney read an interview where Van Dyke mentioned he wanted to make films that he could see with his children. Disney cast Julie Andrews in her first motion picture as the lovable, yet stern, Mary Poppins after he heard her records and saw her act in a New York performance of Camelot. Together, Disney, the Sherman Brothers, Van Dyke, and Andrews created one of the most classic musical films of all time. The film also featured long time performer, ex-vaudevillian, and comedian Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert. Wynn was in his late 70s and not well, according to Dick Van Dyke, but when the camera was rolling, he acted professionally and to his best ability, which just so happened to be a near perfect performance, if you ask me. 

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. 
You find the fun, and - SNAP - the job's a game!

Behind the scenes, putting together Bert's one-man-band

It's a Jolly Holiday with Mary.
Mary makes the sun shine bright.

"She was a lady first and foremost, but she also had a great,
whimsical sense of humor... Only one thing surpassed
Julie's spot-on instincts, and that was her voice." 
-Dick Van Dyke on Julie Andrews

"Just as I suspected..."
-Mary Poppins

"We haven't retired yet. You never know what's coming."
-Walt Disney

Brothers Richard and Robert Sherman with Julie and Dick

Walt Disney with Julie Andrews and author P.L. Travers

A whole cast of characters!

"He impressed me as a nice man, really an old shoe. I later heard that he
was a tough taskmaster, nut I only saw his easygoing side, the side
that led others to refer to him as Uncle Walt." 
-Dick Van Dyke

"I would describe Walt Disney as a twinkly person. He had a kind
of cheerful merriment in his eyes. He didn't roar with laughter or anything
like that, but there was a kind of bubbliness about him."
-Julie Andrews

The film Mary Poppins is relatively new to my life. I had of course heard about it my whole life, knew some of the songs, but it wasn't until Walt Disney Studios announced 2013's Saving Mr. Banks that I got excited. I'm a fairly big Tom Hanks fan, and I also adore Emma Thompson, and pair those two actors with my love of Disney and Disneyland (I mean, we got to see Disneyland in almost all of it's vintage glory!), and of course I was in the theatre the weekend the film came out. My son and I also attended Disneyland's annual Mickey's Halloween Party dressed as Mary and Bert. In December 2013, I purchased Mary Poppins on bluray, and my son's love for the singing nanny was infectious! We've had many, many happy hours, days, weeks watching the movie! I kick myself for not enjoying Mary Poppins sooner! 

Happy 50th, Mary Poppins!!

Until next time,

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