Walt Disney Was So Enamored With This Celebrity, He Thought He Couldn’t Afford Her

Walt Disney lying down on a table
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney is universally believed to have been a creative savant, frontrunner, and innovator in entertainment during his time. He pushed creative boundaries and redefined the film industry, and his vision for Disneyland continues to define the theme park industry today. 

Walt Disney was also a creative genius who was recognized during his time, something that isn’t always the case (think of the famous post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh). One might then believe that, given the reputation he enjoyed, he had unfettered access to the best talent across the board. 

But, if recently revealed Disney trivia is to be believed, there was one celebrity that even Walt Disney himself felt he “couldn’t afford.”

walt disney talks about new york world's fair

Founder of the Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney / Credit: Disney

Considering the long and bountiful relationship that Disney and Disney Legend Julie Andrews enjoyed, it might surprise some to know that there was a point in time when Walt Disney believed he “couldn’t afford” the actress. 

Dame Julie Andrews began her Hollywood career with the Walt Disney Company when she enjoyed an immensely successful feature film debut with the release of Mary Poppins in 1964. The film was one of the most successful Disney films, and at the time of its release, it became the highest-grossing Disney film ever.

Mary Poppins ratings change derogatory languageJulie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins / Credit: Disney

According to a recent social post from a Julie Andrews fan account on X, formerly Twitter, Disney songwriter Richard Sherman once shared how Walt Disney truly felt about Disney Legend Julie Andrews. 

Sherman explained, “Walt Disney just loved her. When people asked him why he didn’t sign her to a 3-picture deal because she was so fantastic. Walt said no. If the film was as good as he thought it was, she’d be worth far more money than he could afford to pay her. He was right!”

To lend some context to Sherman’s remarks, at the time of its release, Mary Poppins earned $44 million in theatrical rentals in its initial run and then went on to earn a total of over $103 million worldwide.  

In addition, the film received thirteen Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Film Editing, and more. This, to date, remains a record for any film released by Walt Disney Studios. Mary Poppins would go on to win five of its thirteen nominations, including Dame Julie Andrews winning an Oscar for Best Actress.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom with Walt and Mickey Partners Statue

The “Partners” statue in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort / Credit: Disney

This said, while Walt Disney certainly believed he “couldn’t afford” a three-movie contract with Andrews at the time, Disney solidified their relationship with the actress, and they enjoyed a notable relationship. 

Andrews starred in the ever-popular Princess Diaries series with Anne Hathaway, appearing in 2001’s The Princess Diaries and 2004’s The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. (Though, by all accounts, she is unlikely to come back for a third movie.) In addition, Andrews also appeared in two Disney telefilms—Eloise at the Plaza (2003) and Eloise at Christmastime (2003)—and won an Emmy for her performance. 

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About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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