Dame Julie Andrews: Regal flair for kids' books

(CBS News) Julie Andrews has been a star on stage and screen for 60 years, from "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music" to "The Princess Diaries." And that's not all - for 40 years, she's been writing children's books.

The Oscar-winning actress said she came about to write because her children begged her.

"They knew that I loved to scribble, and about 40-something years ago we were all traveling together on a movie. They were bored and we were playing a game together, and it was one of those games where you had to pay a forfeit if you lost - I was the first one to lose!"

And so her new stepdaughter asked her to write a story. "I thought, maybe this is a way to bond a little bit with her and give her a small gift.

And she never stopped writing. "I enjoyed that so much and had the pleasure of having that little book published and I never stopped after that. I loved it so."

The book was "Mandy," published in 1971. Since then she has published nearly 30 booksl Her latest is "The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl!" It's part of a series Julia started with her daughter Emma about 15 years ago, about a girl who's convinced she's a very fairy princess, despite evidence to the contrary . . . She's got some sparkle that tells her so."

"The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl" (Little Brown)
Julie Andrews on princesses, children's books and her memorable film roles


In addition to her authoring children's books, Andrews says she is happy to have been a part of some classic children's movies, like "Mary Poppins." "I think I'm so lucky because every seven years there's a new generation that wants to see them, I thank heavens! They've had longevity which is not true of a lot of movies. I'm very grateful."

She told Rebecca Jarvis and Jeff Glor that her children's books have "book-ended" her film career, which was brought to a premature end following an operation on her throat that affected her singing voice.

"The voice is pretty nonexistent, excepting my lovely Emma with whom I work on these books. I was moaning and carrying on to her one day about missing singing so much, and she said, 'Mum, you found a different way of using your voice through these books.'"

The "Very Fairy Princess" books have also been developed for stage, with orchestral arrangements and narrator (guess who?). "So, in a way I don't know I would have had this opportunity to create and help produce and sometimes direct if I hadn't had problems with my voice."

To watch the entire interview with Julie Andrews click on the video player above.