Julie Andrews Recalls Meeting Dick Van Dyke in ‘Daunting’ Mary Poppins Rehearsals: ‘We Did Bond Instantly’

The legendary actress recalled their first meeting during Thursday’s two-hour ‘Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic’ special on CBS


Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins”.

Dick Van Dyke left a lasting first impression on Julie Andrews.

During Thursday’s two-hour Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic CBS special that served as a tribute to the legendary 98-year-old star, Andrews, 88, recalled meeting Van Dyke during rehearsals for Mary Poppins.

“It was a very hot early September if I recall correctly, and the Disney team had built a big stage outdoors on the backlot of the studio and created a roof for shade from a giant tarpaulin,” Andrews explained. “As I arrived on that very first day, Dick was already working with the choreographers and the dancers.”

Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and other original cast members from Mary Poppins reuniting to launch the 40th anniversary special edition of the movie. Pic. shows the two in the party after the movie.

Julie Andrews (L), Dick Van Dyke (R). LAWRENCE K. HO/GETTY

The 1964 musical was a critical film for Andrews’ career, earning her a Best Actress Oscar for her role as the titular character. Van Dyke had two memorable roles in the film – Bert, a chimney sweep, and Mr. Dawes Sr.

While Andrews noted that at first sight he was “young, fit as can be, and really gorgeous to look at,” she said that meeting Van Dyke was “daunting.”

“I’d never made a movie before, and I’d given birth to my lovely daughter Emma nearly six weeks earlier, and I quickly realized that I had better pull my socks up and get in shape,” she said. “I found it pretty daunting, I can tell you. Dick could not have been kinder, more genuinely sweet and helpful. I like to think that we did bond instantly.”

Dick Van Dyke Mary Poppins - 1964 Director: Robert Stevenson Walt Disney Pictures USA Scene Still Family

Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins”. DISNEY/KOBAL/SHUTTERSTOCK

Andrews said she remembers “laughing” while learning the dance to “Jolly Holiday” and noted that there were “countless times that he made me collapse with the giggles.”

“It was so delightful to watch him imitating the animated penguins or attempting to ride the pony from the carousel. Becoming a magical chimney sweep. Actually, it was a very happy film for, I think, the entire company,” she said.

Dick Van Dyke leaves an art reception for his wife's portraits of him at Malibu City Hall.


Of her co-star’s career, Andrews said Van Dyke has a “completely original style” which makes him “totally unique.” She added, “How lucky I was to have him by my side for my first venture in Hollywood.”

While discussing being surprised by the CBS special with PEOPLE – he had been told the live taping celebrating his distinguished career was a regular press interview – Van Dyke said that he never expected “that kind of recognition?x”

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“My whole life went before me. I didn’t realize I had done so many things while I was 75 years in show business,” he said.

“You think, ‘I don’t deserve this,’ but it’s difficult to say how I felt,” he says. “I came home, and I said, ‘You know something? It’s going to be a couple of days before this actually sinks in that it happened.’ I never expected that kind of recognition. My whole life went before me. I didn’t realize I had done so many things while I was 75 years in show business.”

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