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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Part Five in our Series - 30 Facts About Mary Poppins You Might Not Know!

Here we are, another month has passed by like a fast moving wind.  We are into July, and I almost forgot to post the 30 facts for June.  So, without further adieu, here we go!

1.) A very early story idea for the scene where the children have wet clothes was to have Mary Poppins snapping her fingers and have the children's clothes come off, and hang themselves up. 

2.) The different colored liquids that came from the medicine bottle took Karen Dotrice entirely by surprise.

3.) "I shall stay until the wind changes." The wind is one of the film's most subtle "characters," unseen yet very important for the changes it brings.

4.) Julie Andrews loved "Stay Awake" and in a letter to P.L. Travers mentioned its planned deletion.  Travers wrote to Walt urging him to put the song back and even suggested where to place it.

5.) P.L. Travers insisted that encouraging the children to stay awake, and not close their eyes, to get them to do the exact opposite was "so very Mary Poppins," she thought it a pity to leave it out.  Walt agreed.

6.) Musical arranger Irwin Kostal used a very small string ensemble to "cushion" Julie Andrews' voice for the lullaby.

7.)Julie worked very hard to achieve an effortless, quiet quality to her singing for this particular song.  48 takes in one day!

8.) David Tomlinson ("Mr. Banks") also dubbed the voice of Admiral Boom's First Mate, Mr. Binnacle (Don Barclay.) No reason was found.

9.) The elaborate sets of Mary Poppins made several guest appearances in other later Walt Disney productions.

10.) In an episode of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color," Roger Mobley, as a teenage newshound "Gallagher," climbs out of a window and across the rooftops of San Francisco, - formerly London (from the Mary Poppins movie.)

11.) Another "Wonderful World of Color" episode, "For the Love of Willadean," featured a haunted house which was the Banks' home, dark, dusty and cobwebbed.

12.) As a girl, P.L. Travers told Mary Poppins stories to her sisters.  Years later, she said those stories just came to her, fully blown, along with Mary Poppins herself.

13.)In the book, Mrs. Corry sells gingerbread with very special wrappers, which she and Mary Poppins turn into stars.

14.) Andrew the Dog's sneeze was not in the script.  When he sneezed on camera, a suitable response was added for Mary Poppins.

15.) The Director asked Julie to walk very fast to create what he called an "angular grace."

16.) The houses on Cherry Tree Lane are built on a "diminishing scale," getting smaller as the Lane progresses.  That "forced perspective" adds to the sense of depth on the set.

17.) The visit to Uncle Albert's is based on the "Laughing Gas" chapter in the book chosen by Walt Disney and the Sherman Brothers.  Bert was not in this adventure in the book.

18.) Veteran character actor Ed Wynn plays Uncle Albert.  Walt considered Wynn a good luck charm ever since he voiced The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (1951).  Wynn also placed the Toymaker in Walt's first attempt at a musical feature, Babes in Toyland (1961).

19.) Ed Wynn was 76 years old when he made Mary Poppins.  He had been in show business for more than 60 years.

20.) The Sherman Brothers' original concept was for Uncle Albert to have a Viennese accent.  Ed, an American, didn't attempt the accent, or even a British one.  He was just himself.

21.) "I Love to Laugh" was originally titled "Learn to Laugh."

22.) In the book, Uncle Albert's last name was "Wigg."

23.) Ed Wynn ad-libbed many of his lines, making them up on the spot.  Ordinarily a stickler for sticking to the script, Director Robert Stevenson wouldn't interrupt because Wynn was so witty and imaginative.

24.)  A deleted song, "Chimpanzoo," was based on the "Full Moon" chapter of the children's night-time visit to a very special zoo.

25.) Ed Wynn  delighted in making the children really laugh for his scene with them by doing his funny voices just before takes.

26.)  Walt was worried that P.L. Travers might feel that Julie Andrews was too young to play Mary Poppins, so he gingerly asked the author how old she thought that Nanny was.  "Around 27," she replied.  Julie Andrews was just 27, Walt was greatly relieved. 

27.)  Travers highly approved of Julie Andrews, noting she had the inner integrity for the part.

28.) She also thought Andrews was prettier than her idea of Mary Poppins, but she had the right nose!

29.) Second Unit Director Art Vitarelli built a miniature set of the table with the tea service  to figure out how to film the tea party on the ceiling.  He built two sets, tilted in different directions.  One he laid the set on its side, and made the side wall the ceiling.  When the stars were suspended on wires from "the wall" it looked like they were upside down.  Hydraulic lifts raised the table and chairs so the characters would appear to be weightless, bobbing in space.

30.) The cast had to sit in formfitting fiberglass harnesses for hours just to get used to them before filming.  Matthew Garber got dizzy hanging from the wires.  Sometimes a stand-in was used for his scenes.  Other times he refused to go up until the crew members offered to pay him a dime.  ;-)
Well, those are your Mary Poppins facts for the last month!  Join us again for another round of interesting information at the end of July!