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Julie Andrews Sings Again

The star of "The Sound of Music," and "Victor/Victoria" visits The Early Show on Thursday to discuss her role as the Queen of Genovia in the new film "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement."

In the new movie, she sings for the first time since 1998, when throat surgery went horribly awry and robbed her of her crystalline, perfectly pitched singing voice.

"I'm actually not singing," Julie Andrews tells co-anchor Hannah Storm. "I'm sing-speaking. An occasional note here and there, but they're very, very low. It wasn't easy, but Garry (Garry Marshall, the director) and I said we both have the right to veto if we didn't like the way it came out, or it didn't turn out right, or if I couldn't manage it. So I'm happy to say it's in. But it isn't really my returning. I'm not reviving my career again or anything like that. The singing's really put to bed."

The sequel also brings out her character's love interest with her loyal bodyguard, Joseph.

Andrews says, "You can't imagine how many people were asking about it. They kept saying, 'Were you an item in the first movie? Weren't you?' So we decided we'd better, as Joseph says, bring it out of the closet."

This is the first time, Andrews says, that she has done a sequel and putting her crown back as Queen Clarisse of Genovia was a total delight. "Who's going to complain? I work with Garry Marshall, a wonderful director, and wear all those wonderful jewels and beautiful dresses," she says. "I'm in heaven."

Overall, it has been a great summer for Andrews. She lent her voice to play another queen in "Shrek 2," which has taken in almost $434 million, making it the fourth-highest grossing film of all time, behind "Titanic," "Star Wars," and "E.T."

"My Lord. Who knew we'd be so lucky," Andrews says. "To be in two great movies this summer, this one and 'Shrek,' it's amazing."

Reflecting on the 40th anniversary of her Academy Award-winning performance in "Mary Poppins," she says, "What really struck me, coming off 'Shrek,' is this, you don't see a single creak or chink in the brilliance of the way Disney did the film 40 years ago. And, of course, today, it's so much easier than it took back then."

To celebrate the anniversary, there is a special edition DVD for the holidays.

Some facts about Julie Andrews:

  • Born Julia Elizabeth Wells in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, England, on Oct. 1, 1935
  • She joined her mom, Barbara, and stepfather Ted Andrews' touring vaudeville act at the age of 12
  • In her first major appearance, in "Starlight Waltz" in 1947, she brought the house down at the Hippodrome with a bastardized version of the polonaise from "Mignon."
  • She became the family's primary breadwinner on the strength of her several octave range soprano and continued to tour after Barbara and Ted retired, traveling with a tutor until age 15 when her mother decided that her education was adequate.
  • She held title roles in productions of "Humpty Dumpty" (1948), "Red Riding Hood" (1950) and "Cinderella" (1953) before debuting on Broadway as Polly in Sandy Wilson's 1920s pastiche "The Boyfriend" (1954). Two years later, she starred as Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady," winning a Tony nomination. After a four-year run in that role, Andrews played Guinevere to Richard Burton's King Arthur, in Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot," garnering a second Tony nomination.
  • Andrews lost all three roles she had created on Broadway to non-singers in their film incarnations. But she did impress Walt Disney enough to be offered the title role of "Mary Poppins" (1964), although she kept him waiting until it was definite that Eliza Doolittle would be played by Audrey Hepburn.
  • "Mary Poppins" rocketed her to international stardom and earned her a Best Actress Oscar.

  • That year, whe also played opposite James Garner in "The Americanization of Emily".
  • In 1965, she played Maria in the blockbuster film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" (1965), which remained the highest-grossing movie of all time for a decade.
  • The musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1967) reinforced her image as a sweet thing.
  • Director Robert Wise cast Andrews as stage legend Gertrude Lawrence in "Star!" (1968).
  • Andrews tried to break away from her goody-goody stereotyping by appearing in less wholesome, non-musical fare, such as Hitchcock's "Torn Curtain" (1966), and frequent collaborations with second husband Blake Edwards: "The Tamarind Seed" (1974), "10" (1979), "That's Life" (1986) and "S.O.B" (1981)
  • In "S.O.B.", Andrews played an actress baring her breasts for financial reasons, and since she was still trying to shed her virginal image at the time, her going buff made the film, in a twisted way, a parody of itself.
  • Her last big screen success, Edwards' gender-bending, often hilarious "Victor/Victoria" (1982), earned her a third Best Actress Oscar nomination.
  • In 1995 she reprised its woman playing a man playing a woman for the Broadway version. Andrews created a flap when she declined her Tony nomination in protest because no one else associated with the production had received a nod. A televised version of the 1995 production was aired as part of the Bravo cable series "Broadway on Bravo."
  • In 1998, Andrews underwent throat surgery that robbed her of her singing voice.
  • In 2000 her malpractice suit against the doctors who allegedly botched her surgery was settled for an undisclosed sum, estimated at $30 million.
  • After some counseling to help her deal with the trauma of the loss of her most treasured asset, Andrews also engaged in therapy that helped her regain some of her vocal range.
  • In the meantime, she stayed busy as an actress, appearing as the awkward fledgling royal Anne Hathaway's oh-so-regal grandmother in Garry Marshall's surprise hit film "The Princess Diaries" (2001).
  • She also provided the voice of Queen Lillian, mother of Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) in "Shrek 2" (2004).
  • As "Julie Edwards," she has also written her own highly-regarded children's books.
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