Julie Andrews Working With Her First Husband on ‘Mary Poppins’ Was a ‘Big, Big Help’

Julie Andrews began her storied career on Broadway. But her role in 1964’s Mary Poppins turned her into a household name. Her star-making performance earned her a higher level of fame and success, which she leveraged into a run as one of the beloved actors in Hollywood. The film also allowed Andrews to work with her first husband, Tony Walton. And she spoke positively of the experience.

Julie Andrews’ first husband helped shape ‘Mary Poppins’ 

julie andrews first husband
circa 1965: Headshot of British actor and singer Julie Andrews laughing with British designer Tony Walton. (Photo by Max B. Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images)

In a video feature for Vanity Fair, Andrews reminisced about many of her notable roles. She explained that Mary Poppins was her first movie. Andrews was attracted to the part because of the music, which she describes as having a “vaudeville quality.” But the process of making a film was foreign to her. Julie Andrews benefited from the support of Walt Disney’s production team, which included her first husband, set and costume designer Tony Walton. 

“Tony was hugely talented. And creating my costumes, he would discuss them with me,” she explained. “He said, ‘You know, you’re very prim and proper on the outside, but I think Mary Poppins has a kind of secret life, maybe. And I’m going to give her, when you open your coat or when you turn and dance, you’ll see marvelously colored petticoats and wonderful linings of your clothes,” she recalled. 

Walton described Mary Poppins as “Very formal on the outside and a little bit wicked on the inside.” Andrews noted this “completely gave me a clue as to her character. Big, big help for me.”

The response to the movie changed Andrews’ career

Mary Poppins was immediately hailed as a commercial and artistic success. It was a big hit at the box office. It even earned 13 Academy Award nominations, winning five awards, including Best Actress for Andrews. She parlayed the praise into several notable projects. The following year, she starred in another iconic musical, The Sound of Musicwhich earned Andrews another Oscar nomination.

To avoid typecasting, Andrews tried to diversify her career. She appeared in movies like The Americanization of Emily, Torn Curtain, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Andrews never hit the same heights as her early projects. But she continued to make waves and garner notoriety through movies like The Princess Diaries and various voice acting gigs. 

Andrews and Walton divorced, and she remarried

Andrews and Walton clearly worked well together. They also had a child together, Emma Walton Hamilton. However, they divorced in 1968. Soon after, Andrews married her second husband, Blake Edwards. “He was a very charismatic, very attractive man. And a fabulous film director,” Andrews said of Edwards.

Like with Walton, Andrews worked with her new partner on various projects. Edwards, a filmmaker, is perhaps best known for hits like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Pink Panther movies. Andrews appeared in several of his films, including Darling Lili and S.O.B. One of their most well-known collaborations was the 1982 musical comedy Victor/Victoria, based on a German film Edwards had seen.

Edwards and Andrews remained together until his death in 2010. “We were married 41 years and it was a love story,” she said (via Hello! Magazine). Walton, meanwhile, died in March 2022.

RELATED: Julie Andrews On Losing the Love of Her Life: ‘One Carries That Love Always’