10 Fascinating Facts About Mary Poppins You Don’t Know

It's impossible not to be charmed by the magical nanny Mary Poppins. Whether you grew up watching Julie Andrews dance with animated penguins in the original Mary Poppins movie or were enchanted by Emily Blunt's recent portrayal in Mary Poppins Returns, there's no denying the charm of this beloved character. But how well do you really know Mary Poppins? Grab a spoonful of sugar and join us as we explore 10 fascinating facts about Mary Poppins that might just surprise you. It's a jolly holiday with Mary, indeed!

Mary Poppins Movie Helped the Disney Monorail System

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Mary Poppins wasn't just a masterpiece of storytelling and entertainment; it was also a financial triumph for Walt Disney, raking in a net profit of about $28.5 million. As a result of the film's huge success, its ripple effect extended well beyond the silver screen. With these profits, Walt Disney developed the monorail safety system, affectionately known as MAPO, short for Mary Poppins.

Creating this connection between a classic film and a technological advancement is a heartwarming testament to the far-reaching impact of creativity and innovation. As part of the Disney experience, Mary Poppins' magic extended to ensuring safety and joy.

PL Travers' Real-Life Inspiration

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It might appear that the classic character of Mary Poppins was a Disney original, but in truth, she sprang from the pages of P.L. Travers' novel, Mary Poppins. Moreover, the whimsical nanny was inspired by Travers' own great aunt, Helen Morehead, who was known to be stern yet possessed a magical quality all her own. Just like the fictional character we've come to love, Travers' aunt was a blend of real-life charm and fiction, and this delightful fusion gave birth to the beloved character of Mary Poppins we know today.

Julie Andrews Wasn't Disney's First Pick

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It might surprise you to learn that Julie Andrews wasn't the initial choice for the role of Mary Poppins. When casting this star-studded film, both Walt Disney and P.L. Travers had their preferences for the leading lady. Bette Davis was their first pick, and they even considered Angela Lansbury for the iconic role.

According to Robert B. Sherman, who co-wrote the songs for the film, everything changed when the studio saw and heard Julie Andrews on TV. Andrews' grace, charm, and melodic voice captured their attention, and they knew in their hearts that she was the perfect choice for Mary Poppins. The rest, as they say, is cinematic history.

A Surprising Filming Location

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In the captivating 1964 film Mary Poppins, set in Edwardian London, we are transported to various charming locations such as the Banks' family home at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, Admiral Boom's house, the park, the Bank of England, and St. Paul's Cathedral. Yet, what may surprise many Mary Poppins fans is that none of these scenes were actually shot in London.

Instead, every scene from this classic Disney film was produced inside Disney's Burbank soundstage using meticulously painted backdrops. The magic of cinema brought London to life in a way that continues to captivate audiences, thanks to Disney magic.

Dick Van Dyke Played Two Roles

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When we think of Mary Poppins, our minds naturally drift to the magical nanny herself, but who could forget her trusty sidekick Bert, the cheerful chimney sweep? As he sang Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee, he danced his way into our hearts.

But did you know that the talented actor who played Bert, Dick Van Dyke, also starred in another role in the film? You might have missed it, as he was cleverly disguised as Mr. Dawes Sr., Mr. Banks' greedy banker boss. In a memorable scene, he tried to convince young Michael Banks to invest his tuppence in the bank, singing the persuasive words of “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.” Amazingly enough, years later when Disney made Mary Poppins Returns, Dick Van Dyke, who was 91 years old at the time, also returned to the film to play Mr. Dawes Jr. all those years later.

Julie Andrews' Debut

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Mary Poppins graced the silver screen for the first time on August 27th, 1964, and it wasn't just the film that became an instant classic. Julie Andrews, making her film debut as the enchanting nanny, captured hearts around the world. Her portrayal was so spot-on that she won an Academy Award for the role, affirming that she was, indeed, practically perfect in every way.

PL Travers Disliked The Film Adaption

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While the Disney film Mary Poppins has garnered praise and affection from fans over the years, the author who inspired the film, P.L. Travers, was deeply opposed to its approach. In fact, it was said that she even cried tears of embarrassment at the premiere.

She found the on-screen portrayal strikingly different from the character in her books. Travers was particularly bothered by the film's kinder version of Mary Poppins, as well as the animated sequences, especially the fact that the penguins were illustrated rather than portrayed in live-action. Additionally, she was not a fan of the musical theme that tied the film together. Due to her dissatisfaction with these elements, the author had a complex relationship with her beloved character's film adaptation.

Mary Shepard's Enchanting Illustrations

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Can you imagine Mary Poppins looking any different from how we know her? We have the creative talents of Mary Shepard to thank for the original illustrations that brought this magical character to life. Her artistic vision shaped our image of Mary Poppins, and adding to the Disney magic is the fact that she is the daughter of the famous E.H. Shepard, who famously illustrated A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh books. It's a delightful connection that weaves together two of the most cherished worlds in children's literature.

Saving Mr Banks

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The character of Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins was inspired by P.L. Travers' own father, Travers Goff, a bank manager who struggled with alcoholism. While the 1964 Disney film sidesteps this aspect, the later film Saving Mr. Banks delves deeper into P.L. Travers' tragic childhood.

Moreover, it recounts Walt Disney's two weeks of meetings to convince Travers to grant Disney the film rights to her novels. Saving Mr. Banks adds a profound layer of meaning to Mary Poppins, revealing that Mary was not just saving the children, but also Mr. Banks himself, a character representing Travers' troubled father.

“Feed the Birds”

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About 30 songs were written by the Sherman Brothers for the Mary Poppins film, only 14 made it into the final cut. Fortunately, some of these musical gems found new life in other Disney films. “The Beautiful Briny” was repurposed for the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Also the song “The Land of Sand” was rewritten as “Trust in Me” for the animated film The Jungle Book

Yet, among the many delightful tunes in Mary Poppins, one song held a special place in Walt Disney's heart: “Feed the Birds.” Not only was Feed the Birds his favorite tune from the film but also his favorite of all time! His love for this song offers a glimpse into the emotional connection that Walt Disney himself felt with the enchanting world of Mary Poppins.

As we close our umbrella on this magical journey through the lesser-known facts of Mary Poppins, we're reminded that there's always more to discover behind the scenes of our favorite Disney movies. From the inspired casting choices to the hidden connections with other Disney masterpieces, the world of Mary Poppins is as rich and multifaceted as the character herself.

Whether you're a lifelong Mary Poppins fan or new to this classic Disney tale, we hope these insights have added a spoonful of sugary wonder to your appreciation of a film that continues to touch hearts across generations.

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