These facts came via the documentary Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins, unless otherwise stated.
2. Over the years, Walt Disney continued to make offers for the book’s rights. In 1959, he and Travers finally met in person in London. She agreed to option the book to him.
The new film, Saving Mr. Banks, tells the true story of Disney’s pursuit to adapt Mary Poppins, and his relationship with author P.L. Travers.
3. Iconic Walt Disney Studios’ songwriters — and brothers – Robert Sherman and Richard Sherman, worked on the music for the film for 2.5 years, unaware that the studio did not have the full rights to the book.
In 1961, Travers finally sold the rights to Disney on the condition that she get script approval rights.
5. Robert Sherman was the first to consider Julie Andrews for the title role after he saw her and Richard Burton perform a song from Camelot on The Ed Sullivan Show.
At the time Andrews and Burton were both appearing in the show on Broadway.
A month after Andrews’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Disney flew to New York to meet with her and invited her to Los Angeles so that she could further consider the role.
Julie Andrews was considered a shoo-in for the film, but then-Warner Bros. President Jack Warner decided she was too much of an unknown to carry the film and cast Audrey Hepburn instead.
10. Dick Van Dyke’s notorious Cockney accent was partially to blame on his Irish vocal coach Pat O’Malley, who, according to him, “didn’t do an accent any better than I did.”
12. The “Step in Time” dance sequence was originally slated to be nine minutes long, but the director tried to cut it down to two after fearing it was too long. When Walt Disney found out, he actually decided to add more elements to the sequence, extending it to 14 minutes.
The cast rehearsed the “Step in Time” dance sequence for six weeks.
13. Prior to this movie, Dick Van Dyke had never received any type of dance training.
15. According to Richard Sherman, “Feed the Birds” became Walt Disney’s favorite song and Sherman would often play it for him on the piano.
16. Even though Dick Van Dyke was already cast at Bert, he really wanted to play the role of the villainous old bank president Mr. Dawes. He persuaded Walt Disney by screen-testing for the role and agreeing to make a donation to Cal Arts.
Source: Daily Mail
At the end of the the film, his credit for the role first appears as “Navckid Keyd,” which is an anagram for Dick Van Dyke.
18. By the time of the film’s star-studded premiere, relations between P.L. Travers and Walt Disney Studios were so frosty that she wasn’t even invited. She had to ask Disney for permission to attend.
Travers reportedly hated the film so much that she became visibly upset and wept during the movie.
Source: NY Post
19. The film was not only one of the highest-grossing films of 1964, but also, at the time, Walt Disney Studios’ highest-grossing film ever.
Mary Poppins remained Walt Disney Studios’ highest-grossing film for 20 years, grossing $31 million domestically (which when adjusted for inflation is about $268.3 million today).
Source: Box Office Mojo
Andrews also took home the Academy Award for Best Actress. Hepburn wasn’t even nominated.
Despite the fact that Hepburn had been cast as Eliza Doolittle, there was never a rivalry between the two.
They remained friends for the rest of Hepburn’s life.
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