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Julie Andrews still the real deal

Posted: June 2, 2011 2:46 p.m.
Updated: June 3, 2011 5:00 a.m.

I have a friend who works in the television business out in Los Angeles. She’s employed by the host of a late-night talk show, so meeting celebrities is an everyday occurrence for her as she deals with them on matters regarding the program.

As you might guess, there are lots of big egos in Hollywood. Some of the stars with whom she comes in contact are jerks; others are fairly regular people who don’t applaud their own fame but definitely live in their own little worlds.

And a few are downright nice, you’d-never-know-they-were-famous types.

Now in her early 30s, Rebeccca -- that’s my friend’s name -- normally doesn’t get really excited about dealing with famous people. It’s all part of the job. If you or I were to see a major film star like Denzel Washington or George Clooney walking down the street in Camden, it would be novel. We’d probably get pretty excited.

Not so in the TV studios of Hollywood.

But a couple weeks ago, one of the guests on her boss’ show had her completely flummoxed, so nervous at the prospect of meeting this person that she was wringing her hands all day in anticipation.

 “And who was this person?” you might be asking. A rock star? A big-screen movie hearththrob? One of the bad boys of network television?

No, it was Julie Andrews.

Yes, Julie Andrews: Seventy-five years old. Recipient of numerous acting and singing awards, and possessor of one of the movie screen’s purest contralto voices.

 (Actually, I don’t know what contralto means, but it sounded pretty good as I was writing the paragraph above, and music critics use it all the time, so I’m sticking with it.)

For all her honors, for all the stage and screen and record deals she’s had, Julie Andrews is tied inextricably to four words:

 “The Sound of Music.”

If you are beyond middle age, you might well have grown up watching “The Sound of Music,” first in a theater and later through countless showings on television networks and cable.

And you very well might know almost all the words of its songs by heart. You might, in fact, have brought your children up watching the movie and singing the songs -- schmaltzy, some would call them -- of the Von Trapp family.

That’s the way Rebecca was raised -- in a gung-ho “Sound of Music” household.

Her family would gather around the television and watch Julie Andrews -- she played Maria, the young nun-turned-nanny-turned-wife whose innocent trials and travails were a far cry from the graphic scenes portrayed these days in film.

Through all those viewings, and through the parents and kids riding along in the car on family vacations singing “Do, a deer, a female deer, re, a drop of golden sun,” Julie Andrews became an icon.

So it was that she came to Los Angeles to appear on a television show plugging the new children’s book she’s written with her daughter called “A Very Fairy Princess.”

Actually, she’s written a number of kids’ books. To be candid, she probably had a leg up on getting her books published. If she had been Jane Schwartz from Dubuque, Iowa, publishers might have sent her rejection slips rather than royalty checks.

But that’s neither here nor there.

There was Julie Andrews, live and in the flesh, standing right there in the green room, which is what television people call the area where celebrities wait for their turn on camera.

Rebecca met her and got her to autograph a copy of her new book for Rebecca’s little 2-year-old niece, and she reported to friends and family that Julie Andrews is not only nice, she’s “so-o-o-o nice.”

If you aren’t a fan of “The Sound of Music” -- it’s now been nearly half a century since it came out -- you are probably bored with this column. You might be saying to yourself, “Has old Glenn gone off the deep end?”

I don’t blame you.

But if you’ve passed decades watching the Von Trapps hike over the Alps to elude the Nazis and make their way to freedom, you aren’t bored at all.

You’re thinking how nice it is that Julie Andrews hasn’t become a Hollywood jerk. And somewhere in the back of your mind, you’re singing to yourself:

 “Mi, a name I call myself, fa, a long, long way to run.”

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