"I hope it doesn't stick around too much this sweet and wholesome image of mine. I'm not a bit sweet first thing in the morning, or last thing at night."
A tall girl in trousers and a lilac shirt, with daisy-chains at her wrists and a five year old by the hand, with matching daisies, and the same sort of hair, short cropped, shining. Shepherding per child into the elegant hotel, Julie Andrews didn't look like a gold-plate goddess of the giant screen, but after five years in films that's what she is.
It's doubtful whether anyone subjected to the glare of Hollywood's brightest spotlights could remain un-spoilt, and inevitably, Julie Andrews is not the unassuming girl she used to be. Even in Nice last summer, when she was on location for Star! in which she portrays the late Gertrude Lawrence, the Hollywood aura created around her was almost claustrophobic. Only occasionally was she able to get away from it-to spend precious time-of- with Emma Kate, her daughter, and Barbara Andrews, her mother over from England.
Four years ago, when WOMAN joined her on The Sound Of Music set in Austria, time was no problem for Julie. The Boy Friend, My Fair Lady and Camelot had made her the darling of Broadway and Drury Lane, but Mary Poppins and Tim Americanization Of Emily, her first two films, had still to be seen.
In 1959 she married stage designer Tony Walton, her childhood sweetheart. They were a happy unit of two until Emma came along and made them even happier. But when Hollywood began to happen for Julie, Tony's career kept him in London, and they were apart most of the time. Not surprisingly, the marriage foundered and this year they divorced, Julie to bring up dame young daughter.
And having learned the bitter lesson that success can break as well as make, she realized that if she did not dig in her sensible English heels, Julie Andrews, private person, would be supplanted completely by Julie Andrews, super-star. "If she has changed since The Sound Of Music, it's in that she has become more protective of herself," comments Robert Wise, the director. "There are greater demands made upon her now, and she has to be selective in what she gets involved in, has had to learn to say no."
Her refusals are inclined to be administered without a spoonful. of sugar, but Hollywood veterans like stills photographer Al St. Hilaire don't seem to mind at all: "Julie's very easy on the set. You go and ask her a question, and you get a direct yes or no. Very seldom no, but if it is no, you know that what you asked was impossible."
The sequence that was filmed at Cap Ferrat shows Gertrude Lawrence holidaying with her boarding school daughter. She finds that they are strangers, and the pathos of their failure to enjoy one another would not be lost on Julie Andrews, who delights in the mother-daughter relationship, and nourishes it constantly. In California, she and Emma spend every weekend together and if shooting schedules allow, she likes to drive her daughter to school. If it's a choice between posing for a photograph or teaching Emma to make daisy-chains, she'll plump for the daisies and let the flash-bulbs wait.
When we talked on the lawn of the location villa, Julie's long false-nailed fingers were tearing at a French croissant roll: "I'm trying to find out what my daughter sees in theme things. Have you met her?" I shook my head. "Wait till you see her! She's a ham already, always acting and trying on my things. At home she dresses her two poodles and puts them in her doll's pram, but they are mad about her."
The problem of protecting Emma from undue publicity would call for Buckingham Palace know how, and even then it wouldn't be easy: "She should be as normal a little gird as possible, but of course my position affects her." Julie rarely gives permission for Emma to be photographed and when she brings her along on location trips it's only because she can't bear to leave her behind. She's an outgoing child, not a bit wary of strangers because she meets so many. So does her mother. "My only real problem," explained Julie, "is that being so busy I can't get enough time to myself ... that is, if one wants to be helpful to others," Innately polite, she practices her policy of self-protection only because she is driven to do so. "When I'm not working I close the door, and that's it.
"I bought a house in the Hollywood hills and I really wanted to fix it up myself, impress my personality and all that, but I had to leave it incomplete and a bit tatty. In the end I asked two designer friends to finish it off. It's just as I wanted it, all dark floors and white walls and airy curtains." That's where she ands Emma live, looked after by a cook/butler, and a three-days-a-week help. Then there's Emma's nanny, Julie's secretary, and the gardener who looks after the grounds: "Out there, palm and fir trees grow, side by side. It seemed idiotic at first, but now I've gotten used to it." Her diction is elocution-correct and it surprises when the idiom used is more American than English.
"I'm . . . hopefully . . . international. I miss the English spring, all that green, -but in Los Angeles there's not too much to miss. If I want snow there are mountains -sea, there's the Pacific. I feel happy and free there." Stoically, she chewed her dry roll. "I cook a bit, but I don't think I'd be any good as a full-time housewife. I used to be horribly tidy, everything had to be ordered around me, but now I don't mind a bit of chaos." To an outsider a film set, all clutter and cables, looks like the ultimate chaos, and these days film sets are Julie Andrews' second home.
In Hollywood, nothing is too good for her and film companies fight to please. Instead of giving the star dressing-room a new lick of paint, they start from scratch and construct a whole suite of rooms for her use, engage staff to cook and serve her meals. Her merest whim is pounced upon and turned into reality, and one can't help thinking that to a brass-tacks trouper who once played the Blackpool summer season, it must, at times, seem a bit overdone.
The question is, how nice can one of the cinema's legendary nice girls remain, given such exaggerated consideration? She is quick to demolish what she calls her goody-goody image: "I hope it doesn't stick around too much this sweet and wholesome image of mine. I'm not a bit sweet first thing in the morning, or last thing at night." What she means is-"Don't confuse me with sweet Mary Poppins, or wholesome Maria from The Sound of Music, or you'll be disappointed." All the same, if you met her incognito, you might well take her for a governess: she's well-brushed, brisk, and gives an impression of staunch efficiency.
When a messenger handed her an elegant bouquet, she read aloud the letter it contained. It was from a man who had known Gertrude Lawrence. Later, when I had quite forgotten about the flowers, Julie suddenly clapped her hands and broke off what she was saying: "I know!" she exclaimed, "we'll write a letter, that's what we'll do." It was like a teacher, briefing her class, and to be honest, when Julie Andrews looks at you, you sit up straight and pull back your shoulders. .
To her, self-discipline is a way of life and she is always working at something-improving her art appreciation, practicing her scales, or nurturing her natural fingernails. "I don't conscientiously diet, but I watch it. And when I'm not on a film, I limber up at home." She doesn't sing for the fun of it, says she has to be feeling awfully good for that to happen: "If you do anything professionally, you don't tend to do it for fun as well."
Filming is a technical business which she has had to learn. She is quick on the uptake, impatient when others are not. "No one I've worked with since Judy Garland picks up music as quickly," said Saul Chaplin. "Julie is less temperamental than other women stars: if we disagree about a song, and she loses, that's the end of it. And she never turns up the usual actresses' two hours late only insecure people have to do these things. Judy wasn't late in the days when she was sure of herself, and Julie isn't late. She's sure." '
He produced her in The Sound of Music and Robert Wise directed. It became Hollywood's biggest ever money-spinner, so they know they're safe with Julie topping this new bill, which includes Daniel Massey (as Noel Coward), Richard Crenna and Michael Craig. One Sound Of Music song Julie didn't like was "The Lonely Goat Herd". Or rather, she was afraid of it. Said Mr. Chaplin: "I've never told her this, but so was I! When she was going to record it, I said to Bob: 'This is going to be a long afternoon'." To their amazement she got it right in just two takes: "She has tremendous strength, and when you give her a challenge, great determination."
Robert Wise describes her as an "up-personality". Her handling of "I Have Confidence In Me" in The Soused Of Music convinced him that she could clown. In Star! there is lots of comedy scope, but when she's away from the cameras and plays the fool in front of the crew, trying on I funny hat, she seems self-conscious, like a child showing off in front of her adoring uncles.
When she's not needed, she doesn't sit chatting with the boys. "She has to conserve herself between shots, take a nap, get her make-up checked," explained her director, "because when she goes, she, goes all. out." Both he and Saul Chaplin regard her early training with some awe: "Today's kids haven't that background they make one hit record and mouth to it. Somewhere along the line Julie has picked up things like tap-dancing." In Star! She is thrown around by a troupe of acrobats, and it's her professionalism that makes Julie as lithe as a youngster, at the age of thirty-two.
"Julie has, on the screen, the ability Gertrude Lawrence had on stage to capture the audience's imagination. We studied Gertie Lawrence discs," Saul Chaplin said, "and when Gertie fans hear Julie's tracks they're going to say she sings like Gertie, though to compare their voices is ludicrous. Gertie didn't need Julie's voice to get by."
Making comparisons, Julie tactfully didn't mention Gertie's singing: "She loved to whistle, and I like to whistle. She loved flowers in her dressing-room and I always have them in mine, they bring a feeling of fresh air into a theatre. She once had a cherry tree in hers, but I haven't topped that yet."
She doesn't look too hard for similarities. They traveled twin paths to stardom, but no leading lady wants to be like another. Nor is it easy to place Julie Andrews alongside either the screen queens of the fifties, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, or her two English contemporaries, Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Christie.
Julie Andrews keeps her political opinions under her hat-"People in my position can carry an awful lot of weight." Before she speaks you can see her earnestly formulating what she is going to say.
By the time she catches up with fashion, it has usually changed, so she no longer tries. She isn't at all interested in fashionable nightspots, prefers quiet dinners, and has far more acquaintances than close friends. Her constant companion is Blake Edwards, the most handsome director in all Hollywood.
She is a Barbra Streisand fan, "And I'll always be a Katherine Hepburn fan. Both Hepburns. Audrey, too, is a favorite of mine." That way she glosses over the business of not being given the Eliza Doolittle role in the film of My Fair Lady. Audrey got the part, and Julie, because she didn't, was free to play Mary Poppies and incidentally win her first Oscar.
"I wanted to please everybody, so I did the best I could," she once said, describing her childhood, when she was found to have a four-octave range and sacrificed the delight of playing games for the discipline of singing lessons. When she was six her parents divorced and she took the name of her new stepfather, Ted Andrews. Later she joined the family singing act, made her first solo appearance at the London Hippodrome in Starlight Roof, a Vic Oliver revue. She was twelve. The next year, 1948, she sang in the Royal Command Performance -the rest of her career is showbiz history: radio series with Peter Brough and Archie Andrews, summer shows and pantomime.
At nineteen she was the shining light of The Boy Friend on Broadway, and one year later joined forces with Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway for My Fair Lady. Broadway saw her again, with Richard Burton, in Camelot, but first there was the London run of My Fair Lady. Julie was delighted to be home near her family. There's her mother, and half-brothers Donald and Chris Andrews. And her own father
"We always knew Julie had talent, but it's like a great big dream ... all this." Her mother, now widowed, was looking round the most famous restaurant in the South of France, where Julie, in a white crepe dress, was our elegant hostess.
"Julie was bright," said Mrs. Andrews, "but Emma is phenomenal! Julie really is the most unflappable person I've ever met. Emma's like that, too, takes everything in her stride. She is never left out-the games they play , Today it was daisy-chains. I'm sure motherhood will be Julie's fulfillment. She says she wants to beat me, have four children."
At Julie's old Walton-on-Thames home her mother kept her bedroom just as it was-"If she had come home and found I'd thrown out a piece of furniture, she'd have said: 'Mummy, what have you done with it?' I remember she chose the smallest room, said it was cozy." Missing her American-based daughter and grandchild as she does, she revels in Julie's work: "I live it, everything she does. Her films tear my heart out I I've seen The Sound Of Music eleven times. When relatives have birthdays I treat them. In that film she was wonderful with those children and I saw her doing things she did amusing her own small brothers." Julie turned her attention to us and smiled. "What are you doing to my Mum?" she demanded, but she could guess that her mother was indulging in Mum-talk. "Girls sacrifice a lot for their careers," Mrs. Andrews went on. "We'd love to stay and chat, but I must get Julie to bed. She's like me, needs her eight hours.
It was rather like attending a school play with the mother whose daughter has the leading part. She even criticized her daughter's hair, as mothers are want to do, even when there's no need: Julie's hair is such a mess this evening, after wearing wigs all day."
Julie washes it herself. "I hate going to hairdressers and sitting around," she said. "And it appalls me that some women sleep and wake up in curlers. I'd rather settle for a style that looks reasonable, even if -it's not brilliant. My own hair is mouse, country mouse, and I have it cut every three weeks.".
In Star! she wears two dozen wigs and can't even take a break without someone closing in with a comb. "I tell you, when you have to look at your face in the mirror all day long, every bump becomes a crevice . . . like the Grand Canyon." But when the hairdresser had done, she couldn't resist taking a look-"Can I peek?" she'd say every time.
She has more than a hundred costumes to cope with: "Some actresses," said her dresser, "stand helpless, like wooden figures, but Julie's fast and quick. She's one of the few actresses who can do without a girdle on the screen."
Her personal staff of dresser, hairstylist, make-up artist, are like a family: she mothers them, they mother her and take great pride in her progress. "When we first worked' together," said Bill Buell, the make-up man, "I hadn't met Julie, but from the minute she sat down in the chair, it was roses."
To summon him she sings out his name: "Bill Bu-ell, Bill Bu-ell." It's a kind of view-hallo and I heard it one day when she had to do a quick TV interview on location. "No matter where I am, I hear her," he said good-naturedly. "Don't know if it's a high C or not, but it's certainly very penetrating."
One lunch-break both Mrs. Andrews and Emma were visiting the location, and Julie got them together at the grand piano. They entertained the unit, Mrs. Andrews playing and joining in cockney songs with Julie. Then it was Emma's turn. Encouraging her line by line, Julie got her to sing Do Re Mi, Emma's favorite song from The Sound Of Music.
Julie has seen the film four times. Emma went once and had to leave in the middle, because she said she didn't like to see her Mummy looking so unhappy on the screen.
With her own family, Julie Andrews hasn't changed a bit. What has changed is the attitude of outsiders, and Hollywood, for all its experience, never seems to get over its awkward awe of a really successful star. They expect her to be arrogant and demanding. When she's not, they ask too much of her, and then try to buy back her goodwill.
Sometimes though, the people who seem to change most of all are the old friends: "When you find you have nothing in common you think, that's the end, an era that's passed," said Julie. "There are others you don't correspond with, but when you meet again you're back as you were. Close."
For all the pressures, she is rather enjoying her reign as the English queen of Hollywood. "I don't think in my wildest dreams I ever imagined it would be like this," she told me, her glance taking in the blue sweep of Mediterranean coastline.
And in spite of the attempted Americanization of - Julie, she hasn't lost the old English art of understatement: "It is," she affirmed, "a very pleasant situation to be in."