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Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography Hardcover – March 18, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
London-based stage/TV/film actor Stirling brings up the house lights to detail the entire life of the performer he has known since 1986. Having previously written about Andrews for the Evening Standard and other publications, he highlights recollections of her associates, in addition to his extensive archival research, plowing through some six decades of reportage and interviews in magazines, newspapers and books. Stirling grabs the reader's attention on the opening pages with a description of Andrews's 1997 Mount Sinai Hospital throat surgery, a normal operation that went tragically wrong: "Her principal trademark, the voice of mountain spring purity, was gone, as astonishingly as it had first appeared." Beginning with her childhood in London during the Blitz and youthful voice lessons, Stirling traces her career from post-WWII performances on BBC Radio and the London stage to her 1954 arrival in America with The Boy Friend. After acclaim for My Fair Lady and Camelot came the caravan of TV and movie roles that continue until the present day with voice work in the Shrek series and last year's Enchanted. The book successfully documents and details the professional and personal peaks of her life. With Andrews's memoir, Home, to be published in April, devoted fans are sure to turn to both. 8-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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“Julie Andrews is, quite simply, a phenomenon. She has probably brought more joy to more people than any other star of her generation.” —Richard Attenborough
“A very well written, meticulously researched, gripping account of Andrews’ extraordinary life and career. . . . Stirling does a superb job of detailing his subject’s rise to major stardom. . . . Full of information that may not be known even to some of Andrews’ staunchest fans . . . very frank in assessing Andrews’ flops and disappointments as well as her hits. . . . This excellent work is probably as ‘intimate’ as any biography of Julie Andrews we can ever hope to read.” —Michael Portantiere, TheaterMania.com
“Impressively thorough . . . Stirling compiles an absorbingly extensive study, with glossy photographs and lively quotes bringing the pages alive with the sound of a much-loved musical star.” —Evening Standard (London)
“Intelligent and engrossing.” —Roger Lewis, The Mail on Sunday
“The book successfully documents and details the professional and personal peaks of her life.” —Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
1. The book borders on the hagiographic, which explains why Ms. Andrews comes across as a throughly decent woman, with no major faults to speak of, at least according to Mr. Stirling.
2. In the lives of most famous entertainers, there is a kind of "magic period", during with they are at the peak of their fame and doing whatever it is that makes them famous in the first place. Sooner or later that magic period disappears, and while they remain famous of course, the narrative of their lives becomes far less interesting. So it is with Ms. Andrews. Her magic period was from 1956 (when she began her role as Eliza Dolittle on Broadway) through 1965 (when The Sound of Music came out), with Camelot and Mary Poppins sandwiched in between. Once that was finished however, there simply isn't much left that is so fascinating afterwards. Obviously, her performing career was far from over at age 30, and Stirling dutifully records her career after this point. But, aside from a few brief highlights (Thoroughly Modern Millie and Victor/Victoria), there really isn't much left to speak of. To put it another way, if the biography of her life ended in 1965, one would be describing about 90%-95% of the portion of her life that makes her worthy of a biography in the first place. If it started in 1966, even though she was only 30 at the time, there would be very little else to say that is biography-worthy. It is interesting that Ms. Andrews' own autobiography almost DID end at this point (1964). However, if one were to write a biography of her life starting at age 30, no one would buy it. That not her fault of course, but it does present a problem for her biographers.
I would recommend this to anyone interested in the life of Julie Andrews
She is one talented person with a voice from heaven as a young person. She truly made the right decisions for her career, in spite of her parents and their influences. There is much to learn about acting, singing, and dancing for a young person persuing that career, or an "oldie" like me who admired her as a young adult. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it has caused me to buy many of her movies and more CDs. Enjoy!
One of the great tragedies of modern times was the botched surgery that took her singing voice. This situation is dealt with in the opening paragraphs of the book, stating that she had sued the surgeons and hospital and got a settlement.
Her meteoric rise to fame is outlined as is her coming to terms with her "wholesome" image. I must admit bias, but it is good to read about the public and private life such a great star.