24 Surprising Facts About Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks

December is a big month for a certain very famous, and sadly fictional, nanny. The one and only Mary Poppins will be gracing small screens at home and the big screens in the theater in two very different, yet delightful ways.

This week, Walt Disney Studios is releasing the 50th Anniversary Edition of the family classic (just in time for the holidays).  And for the adults, the new film Saving Mr. Banks will be released in certain cities on Friday December 13th and nationwide on December 20th. Saving Mr. Banks recounts the story of Walt Disney’s quest to secure the rights to P.L. Travers’ book Mary Poppins, a task that turns out to be not just difficult, but frustrating to all involved

Basically it’s Mary Poppins Week 2013, so we should all “Fly a Kite,” have a “Spoonful of Sugar,” and enjoy the wild ride. In celebration of both releases, here are 24 things you may not know about Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks.

  • 24 Fascinating Facts… 1 of 25

    About Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks!

  • It Took 20 Years to Secure Rights 2 of 25

    It took Walt Disney 20 years to secure the rights to P.L. Travers' book Mary Poppins. He dreamed of making the film for his two girls, but also Walt knew it had great potential at the box office. 


    "I know his surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller, and she told me she loved the book as a child. She said ‘Daddy, you have to make it'," Tom Hanks says. "He'd have taken one look at the book and seen the commercial possibilities. Disney and his brother Roy were businessmen without peer and they'd have known Mary Poppins was money in the bank."  The new film Saving Mr. Banks tells the tale in full detail. 


    Source: Walt Disney Company Press Release and The Telegraph

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company

  • ‘Mary Poppins’ Won Awards 3 of 25

    And that 20 years was worth the wait. Mary Poppins earned 13 Academy Award® nominations and they won five: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Effects, Best Film Editing, Original Score, and Original Song. Above is a sweet image of Julie Andrews with the Sherman Brothers.

    Source: Oscars.org

    Photo Source: Oscars.org

  • Walt’s Old Pal Ub Iwerks Worked on ‘Mary Poppins’ 4 of 25

    Mary Poppins also won a technical Oscar® for Petro Vlahos, Wadsworth Pohl and Ub Iwerks that they earned for "conception and perfection of techniques of color traveling matte composite cinematography." And you may recognize one of the before-mentioned names -- Ub Iwerks. He is one of Walt Disney's first and most prolific animators who was responsible for fine-tuning the early images and animation of Mickey Mouse.


    Source: Walt Disney Studios Press Release

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

  • Mr. Banks’ Character Was Based on a Real Person 5 of 25

    P.L. Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff, but went by the pen name instead of her given name. Her father, Travers Goff, was a banker the basis of the patriarch of Mary Poppins. The story of P.L. Travers' father is at the core of Saving Mr. Banks.


     Source: Telegraph

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

  • "Saving Mr. Banks" Is the First Walt Disney Portrayal of Its Kind 6 of 25

    It's amazing that it took this long, but Tom Hanks' role in Saving Mr. Banks is the very first "feature-length, theatrical drama to depict the iconic entrepreneur."


    Source: Walt Disney Studios Press Release

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

  • Walt Loved "Feed the Birds." 7 of 25

    Walt Disney really loved the Sherman Brothers' song "Feed the Birds."

    Richard Sherman said in an interview:  "Walt loved that song, 'Feed the Birds.' He knew that was the keynote of what we had in 'Mary Poppins,' the message that it doesn't take much to give love. And that's what Bob and I were saying without saying it in those words. It doesn't cost much to buy a bag of bread crumbs. We had touched Walt with this very spiritual note.  Every once in a while, he would call us up and say play that. He didn't even have to say, "Feed the Birds.' He would say play it and we would go to his office and play it for him."


    Source: Walt Disney Studios via PR Newswire

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios
  • More Than One Actress Was Considered 8 of 25

    Other actresses were considered for the role of Mary Poppins including Mary Martin, Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury. But when the casting directors saw Julie Andrews on the Ed Sullivan Show singing Camelot's "What do the Simple Folk Do," they decided that SHE was their Mary. Walt Disney flew to New York City to see Julie on Broadway and he was sold, too. Thankfully P.L. Travers loved her as well, so it was a unanimous decision to cast Julie Andrews in the role. 


    Source: Toronto Sun and IMDB


    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company/D23

  • ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Brought Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks) to Tears 9 of 25

    Karen Dotrice did not know anything about P.L. Travers' story until she saw Saving Mr. Banks. She said that Walt Disney was extremely kind during the filming telling the Los Angeles Times:  "She (Travers) was 8 when her father died. And Walt Disney was put out to work by his father when he was 8. I was 8 when I did the film. I think P.L. Travers was trying to fix families by writing about 'Mary Poppins.' I think Walt Disney was a bit of a Mary Poppins himself and wanted to heal people through his movies. Here I am 50 years later looking at this — I was crying when I was watching the film."


    Source: LA Times

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company/D23

  • Julie Andrews Almost Said No 10 of 25

    There was a chance that Julie Andrews might not have taken the iconic role of Mary Poppins; she reportedly had been waiting to see if she would win the role of Eliza Dootlittle in the film version of My Fair Lady. Andrews had played the part famously on Broadway, but the role ended up going to Audrey Hepburn. It appears to have been in Andrews' best interest, as she beat out Hepburn for Best Actress Award at the Golden Globes (and Andrews ALSO won Oscar for her role in Mary Poppins).


     Source: Variety and IMDB

    Photo Source: Amazon - Album available here

  • Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber Were in 3 Movies Together 11 of 25

     Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber, who play Jane and Michael Banks, also worked together in The Three Lives of Thomasina and the post-Mary Poppins Disney project The Gnome-Mobile.


    Source: Toronto Sun

    Photo Source: Amazon/ Available here

  • Matthew Garber Was Scared of Heights 12 of 25

    Poor Matthew Garber (who played Michael Banks) was really afraid of heights, so the crew would bribe him to do the stunt work for the scenes where it looked like they were flying. They would give him a dime every time he would have to fly.


     Source: IMDB

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company/ D23

  • Some of ‘Mary Poppins’ Nannies Were Played by Men 13 of 25

    Here is an interesting one for you; some of the nannies in the scene where they are lining up to interview with the Banks are actually men.


    Source: IMDB

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company

  • The Kids Really Thought Mary Was Magic 14 of 25

    The director did a clever thing during the scene when Mary Poppins starts to pull large items out of her carpet bag -- he didn't tell the kids what was about to happen. The children in the film have a completely shocked look on their faces which is totally authentic. The bag was set on a table while items were fed through from below so it appeared to be real magic.


     Source: IMDB

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company

  • Dick Van Dyke’s "Accent" Was Ranked One of the Worst 15 of 25

    Dick Van Dyke can sure sing and dance, but his Cockney accent was not very accurate.  The Toronto Sun notes: "In a 2003 poll by Empire Magazine ranking the worst accents in movies, Van Dyke came in second, topped only by Sean Connery's attempt at an Irish accent in The Untouchables. Van Dyke would later place the blame for his sorry Cockney on his Irish dialect coach." At least Van Dyke has a sense of humor about it. When he accepted his lifetime achievement award at the 9th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, he kidded in his acceptance speech,"I'm world-famous for my Cockney accent."

    Source: Toronto Sun and The Independent

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company/D23

  • Not All the Songs Made the Movie 16 of 25

    Do you love the songs from Mary Poppins? If so, you should listen to the other Sherman Brothers magic that didn't make the cut such as  "The Chimpanzoo," and "Admiral Boom." One song, "The Beautiful Briny," actually ended up in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.


    Source: Turner Classic Movies and WDWRadio

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company via Jim Hill Media

  • One Nanny Also Played The Bride of Frankenstein 17 of 25

    The nanny who leaves the Banks family in the beginning of the film is none other than Elsa Lanchester  -- she also played the Bride of Frankenstein!


    Source: IMDB


    Photo Source: Amazon - Poster available here

  • Jane Darwell Was Cast Personally by Walt 18 of 25

    Jane Darwell, who played the Bird Woman, had been known for her Oscar-winning role in The Grapes of Wrath. Walt Disney went out to the Motion Picture Country Home where she was living in retirement and asked her personally to be in the film.


    Source: IMDB


    Photo Source: Wikipedia

  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Inspired a Lawsuit 19 of 25

    It's a ridiculously long word that we all know and love, the Mary Poppins refrain of "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." There have been rumors that the word means other things and that it was taken from a 1949 song called "supercalafajalistickexpialadojus" (a lawsuit was filed back in the day). But the Sherman Brothers said it was a word they made up.

    Richard M. Sherman said:

    "That's a word we sort of concocted from our childhood when we used to make up double talk words. In the screenplay version of Mary Poppins we wanted Her to give the children a gift they could bring back with them from inside the chalk drawing when they came out into the real world. If it was a tangible thing like a seashell or pine cone it would disappear. So we said, Remember when we used to make up the big double talk words, we could make a big obnoxious word up for the kids and thats wear it started. Obnoxious is an ugly word so we said atrocious word, thats very British. We started with atrocious and then you can sound smart and be precocious, we had precocious and atrocious and we wanted something super colossal and thats corny, so we took super and did double talk to get califragilistic which means nothing, it just came out that way. That's in a nut shell what we did over two weeks. All together you get Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. "


     Source: Dictionary.com and LAist

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Company/ Disney Insider

  • "Stay Awake" Was Almost Cut 20 of 25

    Julie Andrews loved the song "Stay Awake," and when she heard that there was a chance the lullaby would be cut from the film Andrews reportedly wrote to P.L. Travers who then insisted that this particular number stay in the movie.


    Source: IMDB


    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

  • "A Spoonful of Sugar" Was Inspired by a 7-Year-Old 21 of 25

    Robert B. Sherman, the Mary Poppins lyricist, had been working for weeks trying to figure out a good "anthem" for Mary Poppins. According to lore, his seven-year-old daughter came home from school saying she had just gotten a polio vaccine. He assumed she had gotten a shot and asked (as noted on IMDB), "Did it hurt?" Her reply was, "No. They just gave it to me on a cube of sugar and I swallowed it down." Next thing you know, "A Spoonful of Sugar" was created.


    Source: IMDB

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

  • Mary Poppins Led to Maria for Julie Andrews 22 of 25

    Director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman saw early rushes of Julie Andrews' performance in Mary Poppins and were so impressed that they cast her as the star of their project, a little thing called The Sound of Music.


    Source: The Sound of Music Guide

    Photo Source: Amazon/ Available here

  • "Let’s Go Fly a Kite" Almost Didn’t Happen 23 of 25

    "Let's Go Fly a Kite" is one of the most iconic songs from the film, but it's previous title was the far less-catchy, "Sticks, Paper and Strings."


    Source: Toronto Sun

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

  • ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Is the Third Feature Film to Shoot in Disneyland 24 of 25

    There have only been a few films that got the okay to film in Disneyland, and Saving Mr. Banks is the third feature film to have that honor. The last movie to shoot a scene at the Magic Kingdom was  Tom Hanks' directorial debut, That Thing You Do. The only other one to shoot there was Norman Jewison's 1962 directorial debut, 40 Pounds of Trouble.


     Source: Walt Disney Studios Press Release

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Sources

  • Casting for ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Was Tied to Age 25 of 25

    As luck would have it, the actors who played the Sherman brothers were the same age as their real life counterparts at the time of story. Walt Disney Studios says that, " Jason Schwartzman, at 32, is the same age as his character, songwriter Richard Sherman, was when this story takes place in 1961; and, actor B.J. Novak, at 34, is the same age as his character, sibling songwriter Robert Sherman, was at the time."


     Source: Walt Disney Studios Press Release

    Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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