A stage and screen legend with freedom to soar, Julie Andrews (1935-) is both Mary Poppins (1964) and Maria in The Sound of Music (1965). Born Julia Elizabeth Wellson this day in Surrey, England, she has been singing like an angel since childhood.
"I hated the singing lessons," she recalled, "but... I had this freak four-octave voice which had a mature sound, I could do any kind of coloratura calisthenics."
While war-torn London suffered through World War II, young Julia joined her parents' vaudeville act. Always in search of excellence, at age 12 she sang for the future Queen Elizabeth at the London Palladium.
In 1997, Andrews' lovely voice was silenced by a botched routine throat surgery to remove an intercordal cyst. She described the experience as "very, very dark days." Despite the tragedy, she remained optimistic: "I see the glass as half full instead of half empty, that's for sure."
"Everything happens for a reason," she admitted. "We are meant to find good out of bad."
Knighted in 1999 for her services to acting and entertainment, the radiant Dame Andrews continues to star in movies, including her role as the perfect Queen and grandmother in both installments of the popular Princess Diaries (2001, 2004). She also gave voice to the queen in Shrek 2 (2004).
Her secret to happiness? "Remaining optimistic. I don't think I dare not be optimistic, I daren't think of alternatives," she reflected. "I rely on being able to delve into other things - who knows, I may be able to learn something."
With her daughter Emma Walton, Andrews has cowritten several children's books. In the most delightful way, her life remains full with creative projects. She said in September 2004, "I've never been busier and I must say life is very good right now."
Discipline gives wings to success.