By Jennifer Kiley
It was 16 years today on May 8th, 1996 that Julie Andrews turned down her nomination for a Tony Award in her role of Victor/Victoria in the Broadway Musical of the same name. Was it really 16 yrs ago. Oh, my! I vicariously enjoyed Victor/Victoria through an email list created by a very special person named Harry Gold. He is no longer with us but his list lives on and those who are fans of Julie Andrews can follow her on Facebook on The Harry Gold Julie Andrews Discussion List.
I wasn’t able to travel to see the Broadway Show but wanted so much to see Julie live. I vicariously absorbed all the fun and enjoyment fellow Julie Andrew’s fans were having meeting her, joining each other for dinners and special events. It was a fantasy that I could appreciate and enjoy through other loyal fans. I thank them all very much for their many detailed stories of their experiences.
When she made her “egregiously overlooked” speech, while turning down the nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Victor/Victoria, I was so angry and felt her pain that all in her company including Blake Edwards, her husband and producer/director/writer of the show, were overlooked.
When watching the Tony’s that year I had misplaced anger toward Donna Murphy, who won the Best Actress Award for “The King and I,” as if she stole Julie’s rightful Tony Award. I remember making many comments while watching the Tony’s that year, but one in particular: “They are so scared they sent two Broadway Divas (Bernadette Peters and Liza Minelli) to present the award.” The air in the room and the tension during the presenting of Best Actress in a Musical could be cut with a knife. I am sure everyone there was thinking about what was Julie doing or thinking at that moment. The names were read off, Julie Andrews name was first to be announced to great applause. They showed a photograph of her which confirmed her absence. Then the winner’s name was announced: “Donna Murphy.” The look on Ms. Murphy’s face was that of an extremely stunned woman. All during the show before that moment I was wishing and hoping that the Tony’s would still go ahead with Julie’s nomination and the voters would make her the recipient of the Tony. Alas, it was not to be. Donna Murphy took the Golden Award, but they played her off rather abruptly. I am sure the members of the audience that night were relieved after that particular category was presented. Everyone could breathe again. I was still quite angry for a long time after that night.
The Tonys should have given Julie Andrews an Honorary Tony for all of the attention Broadway received because of her magnificent performances. It is hard to believe that she has never won a Tony Award. After all, she was in such shows as: “The Boy Friend” (her first appearance on Broadway and her introduction to the United States); “My Fair Lady”; “Camelot”; “Putting It Together” and “Victor/Victoria.”
Shortly after Victor/Victoria closed, Julie was to have her throat surgery which had notoriously bad results. It made it impossible for Julie to sing. The verdict was that she would never be able to sing again. It caused her to go into a deep depression. All her life, that is what she did: she sang on the stage, in films, even before the Queen of England. After losing her voice, she continued with writing books with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton and making films such as the Princess Diaries.
I have been a fan of Ms. Andrews since I was a young kid. The first thing I saw her in was: “Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall” – the funniest comedy/musical show I had ever seen. It was love at first sight.
Following that came the film: “The Americanization of Emily” an anti-war film that showed the horror of war. It took place during WWII around the time of D-Day. It’s a comedy/drama worth seeing for Julie and James Garner’s performance and their love affair. The screenplay is brilliant, written by Paddy Chayefsky, adapted from a novel.
And then of course “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music.” These films made me fall in love with Julie Andrews even more. I have followed her career throughout the years and have seen all of her films and her TV specials. I was never able to see her live on Broadway. My parents were not into culture. When I was old enough I would travel to New York City frequently to take in a Broadway Show. The first one was “Hair.” I have been hooked on theatre most of my life appearing in plays and musicals, also playing an instrument in the orchestras. This all began with school productions starting in grammar school through high school.
But there is nothing like a live production of a musical and a play.
I have discovered the video on YouTube of Julie Andrews giving her speech to renounce her nominaton for Best Actress in a Musical for Victor/Victoria because the Tony’s had “egregiously overlooked” everyone in the production of V/V except her. So here it is. It, also, includes protesters and a statement by Carol Channing following Julie’s announcement. Just click on the underlined link or video below.
Julie Andrews turning down her Tony Nomination for Victor/Victoria
16 years ago today May 8th, 1996.