“Home Work,” by Julie Andrews, written in collaboration with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, tells the story of Andrews’ years in Hollywood from 1963 to 1986. This book follows her previous memoir, “Home,” which was about her experiences growing up in England during World War II and her early days on Broadway.
“Homework” opens with Andrews and first husband, Tony Walton, a now-renowned costume and set designer, being asked by Walt Disney to work his film “Mary Poppins.” When Andrews told Disney that she couldn’t because she was newly pregnant, Disney informed her that he would wait. Filming began a year later. Both Walton and Andrews received significant recognition for work that cemented their place in Hollywood history.
Within a few years, Andrews starred in the “The Americanization of Emily,” and “The Sound of Music.” Her childhood years had provided her with only vaudeville experience so she never felt entirely comfortable as an actress. Singing was her natural ability and passion. Her detailed descriptions of filming “The Sound of Music” are captivating.
Andrews writes about her hectic life once she became a singing and film star. Her marriage to the man she had known since she was a teen ended. Her work was in California and his was based in New York. They amicably shared their young daughter.
Once Andrews married writer, producer and director Blake Andrews of “The Pink Panther” films and many others, she started a life that included caring for his young children, multiple moves, and an even busier movie and television career. Her efforts to juggle these aspects of her life, and her efforts to be available to everyone, caused emotional and physical stress that Andrews shares clearly and honestly.
Andrews and Edwards adopted two Vietnamese babies who were orphaned during the Vietnam War. One of the children was part of Operation Babylift during the fall of Saigon. Andrews and Blake were active in their efforts to bring many children wounded in the war to America for medical treatment. They also were the first board members of Operation USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to humanitarian missions throughout the world. It still exists.
The inside-look into the perils and stress of movie making, and the honest portrayal of Andrews’ struggles to blend her career, home life and complicated personal matters offers a rich glimpse into a resilient star. Edward’s mercurial but brilliant and generous nature is vividly recounted in this memoir.
Andrews is a legend in her day, but her memoir makes it vividly clear that her stardom was not an easy path to achieve.