Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins Premieres

On this day in 1964, Mary Poppins flew down on her trusty umbrella onto movie screens for the first time, and what better person to play the title role than… Bette Davis?! The film’s songwriter, Disney Legend Robert B. Sherman, who co-wrote the songs for the film told us, “Originally Walt wanted to cast Bette Davis for the part of Mary Poppins. Davis was (Mary Poppins books author) Pamela Travers’ first choice, too. As strange as it may sound now, in considering the source material, Davis actually fit the bill. But, then one night in the summer of 1962, something extraordinary happened! I saw Julie Andrews on TV and before she finished her first song, I knew that Julie was the one. My brother, Dick, agreed. The next day, we learned that Walt and half the studio had the same idea we did. We had to get Julie Andrews to play Mary. You see, a beautiful, young woman can make outrageous comments, and we’ll forgive her. In the books as well as the movie, Mary Poppins was often curt at the expense of being courteous. You could believe that Bette Davis would make the Poppins-esque comments that that character does. But only Julie Andrews could actually get away with making those comments… and you still love her! Although we didn’t always see eye to eye with Pamela Travers, she eventually came to love Julie, too. She came to believe that Julie was the perfect person to play Poppins, ‘Practically perfect in every way!'”