She received acclaim from the first movie she worked in and the world has been her oyster since, but what happened before that is unimaginably heartbreaking.
The classic beauty Julie Andrews debuted in Mary Poppins in 1964 and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the title role. Just a year later, she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for The Sound of Music for playing Maria von Trapp, and the world was ready to believe that she was the cheerful and loving person she portrayed on the screen.
While they were not far from the truth, they were unaware of the difficulties she had to wade through to be where she was. Even in later years, her portrayal of the queen of fictional Genovia in Princess Diaries would have you believe that she was a very put-together person. It would shock you to know how difficult her childhood had been.
As she shared in her memoir, she had loving memories of her father, Ted Wells, but she had a tenuous relationship with mother, Barbara Morris, and stepfather, Ted Andrews. "My mother was terribly important to me, and I know how much I yearned for her in my youth…but I don't think I truly trusted her," she said, according to the New York Times.
Her parents divorced when she was eight and she eventually had to go live with her mother, who had deserted both her and her father. She has lived in poverty so extreme that the room where she slept had rats living in the pipes. She even had to have her scalp scrubbed and rinsed with vinegar to remove lice, according to Standard UK.
Her mother drank a lot just like her stepfather, who had also tried to sexually abuse the actress twice after which she put a lock on her door to make sure he won't try to get into her room, according to The List. Apart from the trouble at home, growing up in London in the 30s and 40s, she has been through wartime food rationing, German bombs, and poverty, according to NPR.
"I felt trapped and claustrophobic," she writes about one incident with her stepfather.
Despite how terrible her parents had been with her, she became the breadwinner at the age of 15. Her special voice was a curse and a gift. She was a professional by the age of 12 and two days before her birthday she made her Broadway debut as My Fair Lady's Eliza Doolittle. It was here that the great Walt Disney discovered and cast her as Mary Poppins.
Her rise to fame had been astronomical. Disney loved her pure voice so much that he waited until the birth of her first child before filming Mary Poppins. However, her first marriage was not to be. Tony Walton and Julie divorced in 1967 and two years later she married Blake Edwards, with whom she was married until he died. They were together for 41 years before he passed away.
They met in a "wonderfully Hollywood" moment, years before they got married. They were at their therapist's office and just bumped into each other. "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?'" she said.
Both were creative powerhouses and collaborated for many projects, including some that didn't work, but it didn't matter as they "bonded so much" while working. The family eventually moved to Switzerland and settled into a calmer life before coming back to work.
In the 90s, a botched surgery took away Julie's singing voice, but it didn't stop their love. While Julie once thought their story corny, she believes it to be a tale of love now.
"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 said.
Edwards passed away in 2010 and she was right by his side. "I'm still dealing with [his death]," 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.'"
After four decades of success, companionship, and peace, perhaps the rough beginnings no longer mattered. She found love twice in life and has a happy family that continues to be by her side, even though her partner has passed away.