The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Stellar - - Contents - Interview by NI­CHOLAS FON­SECA

My Fair Lady’s Julie An­drews re­veals why she kept her Os­car in the at­tic.

The stage ver­sion of My Fair Lady you di­rected has toured Aus­tralia for a year, and is now back in Syd­ney where it opened. Mu­si­cals come and go – why has this one en­dured? Well, for sev­eral rea­sons.at base, it’s a Cin­derella story and a love story that emerged at the height of the great golden era of Broad­way mu­si­cals. And it has every­thing it needs to have: gor­geous songs and lyrics, phe­nom­e­nal books, great cos­tumes, in­cred­i­ble chore­og­ra­phy and a big, sweep­ing story of im­por­tance about so­ci­ety. Last year, cast mem­ber Robyn Nevin told a jour­nal­ist you “smell de­li­cious”. Did you know this? [Laughs.] Oh, no! I wasn’t aware of that, but I’m glad she thought so. I do love per­fume – I don’t lather it on, be­lieve me. But if she smelled it on me and liked it, I’m thrilled. Peo­ple con­sider you a leg­end, and can be­come flum­moxed in your pres­ence. Do you find that a lit­tle ridicu­lous? Why do you think that is? I mean, it’s not ridicu­lous to me, but it’s sad. Be­cause I think of all peo­ple – well, I hope I’m very ap­proach­able. I love talk­ing to peo­ple. It’s hard to shut me up, as you’ll prob­a­bly find within the next sev­eral min­utes. You have said two of your most fa­mous roles – Mary Pop­pins and Maria in The Sound of Music – served as fem­i­nist icons for gen­er­a­tions. Grow­ing up, who played that role for you? Re­ally early, it was a singing teacher who was a won­der­ful men­tor and a very kind lady – who taught me a great deal about not just singing but also life. I loved the great so­pra­nos, and ad­mired some great movie stars. I’ll never for­get when I did My Fair Lady on Broad­way, [ac­tor] In­grid Bergman came to see our show, as did [opera singer] Maria Cal­las. And the ladies asked if they could bor­row my bath­room after such a long show – which it is – and I hardly dared sit on the toi­let seat for weeks after that, I was so im­pressed. Speak­ing of The Sound of Music, will it up­set you if I ad­mit I al­ways had a soft spot for Maria’s neme­sis, the Baroness? [Laughs loudly.] I see! Oh, good­ness me, you’re ask­ing me to be your ther­a­pist as well. [Groans.] Well, she is a very beau­ti­ful, very un­reach­able sort of woman, and a rather sad one. She’s got a lot of spirit and she’s very witty. That’s about the best I can come up with. You have 10 grand­chil­dren and three great-grand­chil­dren. And five children. Do you keep a chart with birth dates, ages, names and in­ter­ests to en­sure you don’t for­get to send gifts? Well, yes, ac­tu­ally – I do. Be­cause they do come along with alarm­ing ra­pid­ity. And thank God their moth­ers never fail to re­mind me. You turn 82 next month, yet you ra­di­ate good health. Care to share your se­crets? I don’t know quite how I got to be so for­tu­nate in that way. I’ve

“For years I kept my Os­car in the at­tic be­cause I felt I did not de­serve it, or that it was given to me out of kind­ness”

worked since I was about eight. I don’t think I know how to sit still. I’d still ei­ther be writ­ing or prun­ing my gar­den or do­ing some­thing with my grand­kids. I wish I had more time to read or travel for plea­sure. You won an Os­car in 1965 for your per­for­mance in Mary Pop­pins. Where do you keep the stat­uette? For years, I kept it in my at­tic be­cause I felt I did not de­serve it, or that it was given to me out of kind­ness be­cause I didn’t re­ceive the role [in] My Fair Lady on film. Th­ese days, it’s front and cen­tre in my of­fice. Your hus­band of 41 years, Blake Ed­wards, passed away in 2010. What did his death teach you? Well, one is so busy do­ing in a busy and lov­ing mar­riage. You say, “I wish I’d spent more time on that or en­joyed it even more than I did.” But the me­mories are strong and lovely. It is a rite of pas­sage, we all have to go through it. I’m sorry that I did; I wish he were here. I think about him just about ev­ery day. In fact, I’m look­ing at a pho­to­graph of him right now. You turned to writ­ing after your singing voice was da­m­aged in a 1997 surgery. How is your voice now, and has it af­fected your abil­ity to di­rect a song-filled show like My Fair Lady? It’s a given you’re not go­ing to be able to sing the way you once used to as you get older. So re­gard­less, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t be able to sing the same way I did. Voices change, shift gears, and so on. Your CV is full of mem­o­rable projects. Look­ing back, is there one you wish had been re­ceived more pos­i­tively? I made a film called Star! [in 1968] which was one of the hard­est things I have ever done. I wore some­thing like 99 cos­tumes, the sets were lovely, the music was gor­geous. And yet it didn’t work be­cause, at the time, smaller films were all the rage. Peo­ple thought it was ob­scene to spend so much money on a film! Now look at things. We’ve come back. Every­thing is cycli­cal. [Pause.] Is it sick- li­cal or psy­ch­li­cal? I can never work that one out. My Fair Lady is now play­ing at the Capi­tol Theatre in Syd­ney; my­fair­la­dy­mu­si­cal.com.au.

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