Before you plan a family outing to watch Emily Blunt reprise the role of Julie Andrews in the Mary Poppins sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, here are some facts about the original musical. The iconic film remains a must-watch for kids.
1. Mary Poppins was based on the eight-book children’s book series by Australian-British Pamela Lyndon Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff), who sold the movie rights to Disney after 20 years of being pursued. The film Saving Mr Banks gives us an insight into what went on behind the scenes. The original series was also filled with dark themes and not necessarily meant for children!
2. The character of Mary Poppins was based on the author’s no-nonsense great-aunt Ellie (real name Helen Morehead), a spinster who carried a carpet bag and told the kids to “spit spot into bed”.
3. Travers believed Julie Andrews was too pretty to play Mary Poppins but felt that her nose was right for the part.
4. Julie Andrews didn’t agree right away to play Mary Poppins, since she was hoping to play the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, which she played in the Broadway version, but the role ultimately went to Audrey Hepburn.
5. Julie Andrews was an expert at whistling and did the robin’s bit in the song A Spoonful of Sugar, which was originally created to get her to agree to doing the movie. The catchy number was incidentally created by Robert Sherman after his kids told him how they were given the polio vaccine on a sugar cube, so it didn’t hurt.
6. Disney was sued by Barney Young and Gloria Parker, creators of a 1949 song called “Supercalafajaistickespeealadojus”, over their use of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” However, it was proved that the word had been around for ages, with the Sherman Brothers also claiming to have overheard it during summer camp in the 1930s.
7. Ever wondered who played the talking parrot that perched on Poppins’ umbrella? It was David Tomlinson, who also portrayed Mr. Banks, the father of the kids under her care.
8. Dick Van Dyke, already playing Bert, insisted on playing greedy and villainous banker Mr Dawes and disguised himself as an old man to give the audition.
9. The song Step in Time took three weeks of rehearsal and when Walt Disney saw the demo tape, he increased the length of the sequence in the film.
10. The song Feed the Birds (Tuppance a Bag) from the film was Walt Disney’s all-time favourite. He would reportedly often drop in at the Sherman Brothers’ office and request a private performance.