Julie Andrews talks about her start with ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Sound of Music’: Part 1

In her new book “Home Work,” Andrews discussed growing up in a turbulent household, honing her iconic voice and working on her most famous films.
9:42 | 10/12/19

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Julie Andrews talks about her start with ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Sound of Music’: Part 1
55 years ago the world met Mary Poppins. Today this is Julie Andrews at home. So much life in her smile. And her arm around your shoulders. And in all the joy she has given us for generations. It started 56 years ago when a stage actress boarded a flight to Hollywood to make her very first movie ever. And no idea what movie stars do. How do I say that? What do I do? You're age 27. Do you remember the first exchange of the first movie that you ever did in your life? You mean the first take? In Mary Poppins, yes. Yeah, I do. Dig Van Dyke said -- Mary Poppins, you look beautiful. All I had to do was walk across the camera and say do you really think so? And so it began. It wasn't how she said it. Something in her face told you there was someone named Mary Poppins who wanted to heal your world and make it bright. By the way, she invented those The feet need to be turned out. Why? I don't know but you don't want droopy feet at the end of the image of the umbrella. Early on she showed she could do anything. A robin feathering his note You need a tweeting robin? You're doing that whistling? Yeah. I was very good at whistling. for a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down the medicine go down Every signed, singing, tweeting, and a huge contraption. Yeah. There was a wire that went up my shoulder and down my back. Every scene had to be perfect. Some of them taking six weeks of rehearsal. Behind the scenes trying to balance on anvils that will eventually become turtles. I was learning on my feet so The costume designer who happened to be her husband, Tony Walton, created a kind of message. He had secrets in the Yes. He said, I fancy that Mary Poppins has a secret life. Kind of quiet, pleasure at being a little wicked. And naughty. Underneath all the skirts there were other colors. And so when I kicked up my heels or when I moved you just caught a flash. The movie was the dream of Walt Disney who hand picked the young stage actress. After she performed "Camelot" on the Ed Sullivan show and he went to see her on stage. Someone comes to see you. Has a life changing idea. I heard that Walt Disney was out front and had requested, please, to come and say hello after the show. He came back and mentioned this live action animation he was hoping to make of Mary Poppins. I said oh, Mr. Disney I'd be thrilled. I'd never made a movie. He was so sweet and charming and twinkly and lovely. I said, but I can't. I'm pregnant. He said oh, that's okay. We'll wait. The stern, formidible p.l.travers who created "Mary Poppins" even phoned her the day after her baby was born. She said well talk to me. I gather you're going to be doing Mary Poppins. I said I've just had a baby and I'm feeling a bit groggy right now but how lovely to talk to she said, well, you are far too pretty of course but you've got the nose for it. My ski nose. It's all here in her new memoir, "Home work." A life that had begun with a little girl endlessly traveling through music halls and vaudeville. the loneliness of a young girl with a startling talent. Here singing for the king of England. she was doing it all to help support her unsteady, cracked family. You grew up in a turbulent household of alcoholism, anger, uncertainty. And despair on my mom's part. Depression. Yeah. She promised her mother somehow she would make it all right. As a teenager, she bought the family home. But through it all a supernatural gift and that escape from the sorrows in her It was like four or five and dogs for miles around would howl when I went way up into the stratusphere. "F" above high "C"? It was twice nightly in my debut, yeah. You talked about the fact you were taught just to carry the note and keep the note. Like a string of pearls if possible. Just pure joy. In her book she writes about being Maria in "The sound of music." Isn't it pretty? I think this was actually my favorite movie. Five years ago we took her to that treasured place, salsburg, I went in search of her famous mountain. So here's what we've heard. It's out of town. That you can't find it on any Google map so don't even bother trying. So here we go. A little mud. It's okay. Wow. Is this it? Is this it? Here we are. The view exactly as it was a half century ago. So I went to your mountain. I want to know how you did that. How I got up there? We actually went up the mountain in big, open carts pulled by oxon. I would sit on top of all the camera equipment and then they'd hoist me up and up we'd go. Back in 1965 Julie Andrews was doing battle with a helicopter that kept blowing up a tornado of wind. This giant helicopter came at me sideways with a very brave cameraman hanging outside where the door would be normally. But every time he went around me, the down draft from the jets would sling me down into the grass. What a trip we had. Didn't we? I loved that time. It was so great. And a new detail from the new book. The one lyric that still baffles her. You still don't know what it means, a lark who is learning to pray. It's not easy. To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray. I don't think larks sing at night. Have you ever seen a lark praying? I haven't. Actually what I did was decide that I'd coast over the words as quickly as I could so to sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray I go to the hills like a lark who is learning to pray I go to the hills Enough about that. Move right on. Yes. And the joy of that music would propel her through movie after movie, albums, concerts, a golden career, and a struggle at home. You write so movingly about this melancholy that descends on you sometimes and the depression, trying to understand it, and going to the psycho analyst. I finally got enough courage after the first week to say, I don't understand why I'm weeping so much. I can't seem to son. You know, you're surrounded by the wagons and suddenly the cavalry comes over the hill and you weep for relief. Your whole life has been geared for a sort of perfectionism. Those lovely first movies were no help either. Mary Poppins practically perfect in every way. And she wasn't. So there you are. She writes of one song and singing a note designed to carry everyone closer to their happy ending. The song was "Jingle bells." That's high. Jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open -- I can feel it coming. Go out. Further out. -- Sleigh And up next, she and her daughter Emma will tell us what we've never heard before. I don't know and this is not hopefully polyandish but if it is what would you expect from Mary Poppins' daughter? I don't know a more resilient person.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"9:42","description":"In her new book “Home Work,” Andrews discussed growing up in a turbulent household, honing her iconic voice and working on her most famous films.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"66228069","title":"Julie Andrews talks about her start with ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Sound of Music’: Part 1","url":"/Nightline/video/julie-andrews-talks-start-mary-poppins-sound-music-66228069"}