Julie Andrews, beloved icon of stage and screen, is 86 years old today (October 1 2021).
Andrews has entertained audiences in some of her most famous roles throughout the decades, including Mary Poppins, Queen Clarisse Renaldi in the Princess Diaries, Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and as the voice of Fiona's mother in Shrek 2.
She was an entertainer from a young age, and recalled her childhood in her book, A Memoir of my Early Years in 2008.
Andrews was born Julia Elizabeth Wells on October 1 1935, in Walton-on Thames, Southern England, growing up with her mother and step-father, who were both Vaudeville performers.
Her mother Barbara was a classical pianist, and like her mother, Andrews entered showbusiness from a young age and would regularly perform onstage in music halls.
At the age of 19, she landed her first major theatre role at the London Palladium in a production of Cinderella in 1954.
In her book, Andrews also describes her father Ted Wells as a kind man, who was a teacher and had taught her to read and write at the age of three.
However, when she was four years old, her mother left her father for Ted Andrews, with the actress reported in the Daily Express as saying that, "It was hard for me to embrace my stepfather (Ted Andrews) because I still adored my father."
Andrews recalled that her stepfather would often drink, and that he and her mother would often end up rowing.
When Andrews was 14 years old, she also discovered that Ted Wells was not her biological father.
In her 2008 memoir, she explains that she was asked as a teenager to perform at the home of a family friend, and that when she met the owner of the house, there was an instant "electricity" between them.
On her way home, her mother then revealed that the owner of the home, and family friend, was Andrews' biological father.
Andrews' mother had a liaison with him while in a relationship with the man who Andrews thought was her father.
However, the actress said in her memoir, “I was able to push it to a dark corner of my mind. It did not alter the fact that the man who had raised me was the man I loved. I would always consider him my father.”
Andrews recalls that she and Wells would frequently see each other at the weekend, and spend time together enjoying activities such as bike riding. He also walked her down the aisle on her wedding day.
Since her early years as a Vaudeville performer, Andrews has become one of the most beloved icons of stage and screen.
In 1963, Andrews, who had lost out on the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady to Audrey Hepburn, went on to star in Mary Poppins.
The role earned Andrews her first Academy Award, and as they say, the rest is history.
She can next be heard on screen in 2022's Minions: The Rise of Gru, and was also the voice of Lady Whistledown in Netflix hit series Bridgeton.
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