Born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1, 1935, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. Julie Andrews has been a popular stage and film actress and singer for many decades. She came from a musical family—her mother was a pianist and her stepfather was a singer. She first found success on the English stage in the late 1940s. Andrews came to America in the 1950s, starring in the musical The Boyfriend from 1954 to 1955. The next year she starred in My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle, a role earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. She followed that stellar performance with another lead role in the musical Camelot in 1960. Andrews received her second Tony Award nomination for this production.
Julie Andrews made the leap to film stardom in 1964 with lead roles in The Americanization of Emily opposite James Garner and Mary Poppins. It was as the lovable, magical nanny in Mary Poppins that Andrews won her first Academy Award for Best Actress. The next year she was nominated for her part in another musical, which featured her in a care-giving role to the von Trapp family. Both films were hugely successful, winning Andrews fans around the globe. These films remain popular, having grown quite a following over the years.
In the 1980s, Julie Andrews seemed ready for new challenges. She starred in 1981’s S.O.B., which provided a satirical look at Hollywood and was directed by her second husband Blake Edwards. The next year, Andrews took gender-bending to new heights as a woman who pretends to be man pretending to a woman in Victor/Victoria—opposite James Garner and marking another collaboration with Edwards. Over the years, she has worked on many projects with her husband, including Darling Lili (1970), The Man Who Loved Women (1983), and That’s Life (1986). In 1996, Andrews returned to Broadway in the stage musical production of Victor/Victoria, winning her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Julie Andrews experienced a huge personal setback in the late 1990s when her vocal chords were damaged during an operation. While she never regained her powerful, sharp singing voice, she continued to act in films and television movies. Andrews also received a special distinction around this time—being made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II of England. As befitting as an English dame, she played royalty in The Princess Diaries (2001) and its 2004 sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
Recently Julie Andrews has been heard as the voice of Queen Lillian in the second and upcoming third installments of the Shrek animated film series. She also has written several children’s books with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton from her first marriage to Tony Walton. Andrews has two daughters from her marriage to Edwards: Amy and Joanna.
For five decades, she has been entertaining and delighting audiences all over the world. In 2007, Julie Andrews received a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild for all of her professional accomplishments.