A year and a half ago, I wrote about going to Lincoln Center to see a wonderful revival of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” one of the great American musicals that can still pack a theater more than a half-century after its Broadway debut.
In 1956, Julie Andrews was the original Eliza Doolittle. She starred opposite Rex Harrison for nearly two years as it played to sold-out houses, becoming the biggest-grossing Broadway show up to that time. However, when Hollywood decided to make a big-screen version, Andrews was not the choice for the lead role, which went to Audrey Hepburn instead (with her singing voice dubbed by Marni Nixon).
In 1971, Andrews (and then-husband Blake Edwards) guested on Dick Cavett’s ABC late-night show, and he asked her what justification there had been for not hiring her for the movie. Andrews explained that, while disappointed, she understood why the producers wanted someone better-known as their star. After all, she said, while the show had been a huge hit in New York, she had no box office appeal in the rest of the country.
In the next segment, Cavett urged Andrews — who had by then appeared in “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound Of Music,” and another half-dozen successful movies — to sing one of the songs from the show that launched her career. After a bit of reluctance, she agreed and — from her seat — gave a pitch-perfect performance that gave me goosebumps, which is why I’ve made it today’s Picture Of The Day…