When Julie Andrews receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute on Thursday, June 9, she will become the fifth recipient of this prestigious award which is known primarily for music and/or musicals, following Fred Astaire ( 1981), Gene Kelly (1985), Barbra Streisand (2001) and composer John Williams (2006).
Andrews was first announced as the recipient of the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award on September 20, 2019. She was due to receive the honor on April 25, 2020, but on March 7 of that year, the AFI announced announced that due to a strange new pandemic, “the event will be rescheduled for an early summer date.” We all know how it happened. The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021.
Andrews had a very unique story about the Billboard graphics. She starred in two Broadway musicals with cast albums that topped the Billboard 200, as well as two movies with soundtracks that topped that chart, but her only album under her own name to make the chart is Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, the soundtrack to a 1962 television special in which she starred with another future legend, Carol Burnett. It peaked at No. 85. (The special won two Emmys, including Outstanding Achievement in a Program in the Field of Music.)
Andrews also had only one entry on the Billboard Hot 100, “Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious”, a new song by Mary Poppins on which she teamed up with Dick Van Dyke and The Pearlies. The single Tongue Twister reached number 66 in 1965.
Andrews had a glorious voice, but for some reason that didn’t translate to the world of pop music. Still, his work in soundtracks and cast albums cannot be denied. In 2011, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. Burnett wrote the appreciation that appeared in the Grammy program book that year, saying, “His talent is unparalleled. She is an accomplished actress and her voice is a gift from the gods.
Andrews is three-quarters of the way to EGOT status. She’s won two Emmys, two Grammys (plus this lifetime achievement award), and an Oscar, but has yet to win a Tony, despite three nominations. She finally seemed headed for a Tony win in 1996 for her starring role in the Broadway adaptation of Victor/Victoriabut despite being the only person on the show to receive a nomination, she notoriously refused the nod, telling a matinee audience two days after the nominations were announced: “I have probed my conscience and my heart and I have found that I cannot accept this appointment, and would rather stand by the side of the largely overlooked.
This rather arching formulation was mocked, but Andrews’ principled stance was admired. Andrews remained on the ballot, but having signaled her disinterest in the award, it was no surprise when she lost to Donna Murphy for The king and me.
Despite this kerfuffle, Andrews remains strongly identified with Broadway. She won an Emmy in 2005 (Outstanding Nonfiction Series) for hosting Broadway: The American Musical on PBS. She received two Grammy nominations for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance, both for Broadway Collections – Julie Andrews Broadway / Here I’ll Stay (1997) and Julie Andrews – Broadway – music by Richard Rodgers (1995). (Richard Rodgers, of course, was the composer of The sound of music and Cinderella.)
Andrews has won numerous lifetime achievement awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors (2001), a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild Awards (2006), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy ( 2011). Now, as she receives the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, pundits are already wondering who the next film score luminary to receive the honor might be.
Here are eight soundtracks or cast albums recorded by Andrews that made waves on the Billboard 200.