It was one of the best Disney films ever made. It turned 56 on August 27.
Mary Poppins was a perfect blend of music, adventure, and everyday life with a sparkle of magic. Released on August 27, 1964, the incredible picture was nominated for 13 Academy Awards. While it won 5 awards, including the Best Actress in Leading Role (Julie Andrews) it still remains the only Disney film that won the most awards, reported Catawiki. It also won the award for Best Score.
And who can forget the catchy song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sung in the melodious voice of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke? This original song was another reason for the film to become the hit that it is today. On August 27, the film turned 56. The original's popularity inspired movie makers so much that director Rob Marshall made a remake of the film titled Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt in the lead in 2018.
But behind all the innocent laughter and happiness, dancing penguins, there lay dark secrets, which each of the cast members experienced in their lives. It was as though a curse had been cast upon the movie and all who were associated with it.
Matthew Garber was only 7 years old when he played the role of Michael Banks in the film. Soon he realized that he didn't want to continue as an actor and at 10 he took retirement. Everything seemed to be going alright for him until 1976 when in a horrific turn of events, the actor contracted hepatitis while in India. By the time his father took him home in 1977, the disease had taken a toll on him and spread to his pancreas, reported The Mirror.
At just 21, Garber died from hemorrhagic necrotizing pancreatitis in Hampstead, London, at the Royal Free Hospital. Garber's brother Fergus denied claims of his brother doing drugs and said that eating infected meat was probably the reason for the actor's death. Fergus was just 13 years old when Garber died.
Born in Henley-on-Thames, Tomlinson was only 26 when he was widowed just weeks after he was married. His wife, Mary Lindsay Hiddingh, jumped along with her two sons from a hotel. Hiddingh was a widow herself before she married Tomlinson. A single mother with two boys, Michael, 8, and John, 6, it was difficult for her to survive on her own.
Reportedly she was stressed as she couldn't move to the UK with Tomlinson and so she plunged 15 floors to her death in 1943. The incident left Tomlinson beyond devastated. Later in 1953, he married actress Audrey Freeman who stayed with him till he passed away from a stroke at 83.
According to NY Post, Julie Andrews was the opposite of the role she portrayed. Karen Dotrice, who played little Jane Banks revealed that she shocked the children on the set with her swearing and chain-smoking. “There was swearing. Julie Andrews was smoking on set. It was a very real 1960s set, I can tell you. They were polite around minors to begin with, but that soon ended," she said.
Even though the actress won the Academy Award for her role, she lost the voice which gave her the name in the industry and made her a star in a horrific botched operation. Something happened during her surgery meant for removing noncancerous nodules from her vocal cords in 1977 and when she woke up, she couldn't sing anymore.
She told People in 2015, "If it had happened earlier, it would have been really devastating. As it was, it was devastating. For a while, I was in total denial... I thought at the time, my voice was what I am." She sued the two doctors responsible for her condition and the case was settled in 2000 for an undisclosed amount.
Dyke played the man who had a huge crush on Mary, was a one-man band, chimney sweep, and kite seller. Though he played the happy-go-lucky man singing Chim Chim Cher-ee, he was fighting a battle against alcoholism and suicidal thoughts. Even though he tried getting out of its grip by entering rehab twice, he fell deeper into depression.
Talking to Telegraph, he said, "We moved to a neighborhood full of young families with the same age kids and everyone drank heavily, there were big parties every night. I would go to work with terrible hangovers which if you’re dancing is really hard."
He continued, “I was in deep trouble, you get suicidal and think you just can’t go on. I had suicidal feelings, it was just terrible. But then suddenly, like a blessing, the drink started not to taste good. I would feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous and I wasn’t getting the click. Today I wouldn’t want a drink for anything.” He finally won the 25-year-long battle against alcoholism and returned to the screens in 1993.
As far as Dotrice is concerned, by God's grace she lived a happy life and continued acting until the age of 24 but then she decided, “I would rather just get married and become a mom and that was that.”
The movie might have tragedies linked to it because of the actors and actresses involved, but even after all these years, it is one of the greatest musical fantasies ever created.