Even on the computer at her Long Island home, Julie Andrews can still command a screen, while making the best of this odd time. “It reminds me of the war days, this particular time; I don’t know if it does for anybody else,” she said.
Correspondent Tracy Smith asked Andrews, who was a young girl in London during World War II, “Are there any lessons from that time that might apply to this time?”
“It’s a recognition, actually; it is another kind of war,” she replied. “It’s something that I’ve certainly never come across before in my life, and I don’t think many of us have. It’s like a very surreal science-fiction movie in a way. It’s hard to grasp that it’s real, and yet you know that it is.”
It’s probably fair to say that say Andrews has had a lifetime of surreal moments: At 13, she sang in a command performance for King George VI. At 20, she conquered Broadway as Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.”
And she won an Academy Award for her first film role, as Mary Poppins.
Smith asked Andrews’ daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”
“Very good place to start, Tracy!” Hamilton laughed.
“I trained her well, as you can see,” Andrews noted.
When “Mary Poppins” was released in the summer of 1964, Emma was barely two, and a true child of Hollywood. “I went shopping with my nanny at the time in the children’s section of a department store,” she recalled. “And there was a display set up of Mary Poppins, cardboard cutouts, life-size figures of Mary Poppins. And I remember stopping and looking and pointing and saying, ‘That’s my mommy!’ And then suddenly becoming aware that a couple of women behind me were saying, ‘Isn’t that sweet? That little girl thinks her mother is Mary Poppins.’ And I was like, ‘No, but that really is my mommy!'”
And now, in a way, Hamilton has become her mother’s co-star. Together, they’ve written more than 30 children’s books, and this week they’ll debut a new podcast, “Julie’s Library,” where listeners can hear stories read in a very familiar voice.
Hamilton said, “We’re hoping that these stories will bring families together, will bring all of us together.”
Andrews added, “And encourage reading and literacy and, I mean, all those subliminal things that go along with enjoying a good book.”
It all sounds “practically perfect,” but Andrews’ transition from legendary songbird to children’s author was, by her own admission, difficult. In 1997 she lost her four-octave soprano singing voice after vocal cord surgery.