They were the children with enough candor to ask for a nanny with “rosy cheeks, no warts!” They were (“sincere-lyyyy”) Jane and Michael Banks, the delightful British tots who had the good fortune to be left in the care of the umbrella-wielding, bottomless bag-carrying Mary Poppins. So whatever happened to Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber, the two young actors who starred alongside Julie Andrews in that 1964 Disney classic?
Let’s start with the story of Garber, since his tale is the more tragic of the two. After “Mary Poppins,” Garber appeared in one additional Disney feature, 1967′s “The Gnome-Mobile,” also with Dotrice. His acting career ended there. Sadly, Garber died a mere decade later, at the age of 21. According to information on the Reel Classics Web site, the circumstances surrounding Garber’s death were unknown for many years; no obituary was published and even the people at Disney Studios weren’t sure what had caused his untimely death. In 2004, Fergus Garber, Matthew’s younger brother, confirmed in an interview that his sibling died of pancreatitis, which he apparently contracted after eating “bad” meat while visiting India.
The story of Garber’s “Mary Poppins” sister, Karen Dotrice, is thankfully less upsetting. She continued to pursue an acting career post-”Poppins,” landing her highest-profile parts in the British series “Upstairs, Downstairs” and a 1978 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Thirty Nine Steps.” Although she did some voice work and theater and made an occasional TV appearance in the years that followed, Dotrice more or less retired from acting in the early 1980s.
She got married twice, first to Alex Hyde-White (they divorced in 1992), then in 1994 to her current spouse, Ned Nalle, a man who has previously served as an executive for Universal Studios and the Playboy Entertainment Group. According to Wikipedia, she has three children, one from her marriage to Hyde-White and three with Nalle.
Back in 2004, she was named a Disney Legend by the studio. It was an honor she shared with her co-star, Garber, who received the designation posthumously.
Images: Wikipedia and superiorpics.com