There is only one word that comes close to accurately describing the enchanting Mary Poppins
, and that term was coined by the movie itself: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even at 2 hours and 20 minutes, Disney's pioneering mixture of live action and animation (based on the books by P.L. Travers) still holds kids spellbound. Julie Andrews won an Oscar as the world's most magically idealized nanny ("practically perfect in every way," and complete with lighter-than-air umbrella), and Dick Van Dyke is her clownishly charming beau, Bert the chimney sweep. The songs are also terrific, ranging from bright and cheery ("A Spoonful of Sugar") to dark and cheery (the Oscar-winning "Chim Chim Cher-ee") to touchingly melancholy ("Feed the Birds"). Many consider Mary Poppins
to be the crowning achievement of Walt Disney's career--and it was the only one of his features to be nominated for a best picture Academy Award until Beauty and the Beast
in 1991. --Jim Emerson
• The movie received 13 Academy Award(R) nominations and won 5 Oscars(R) for Best Actress, Best Song, Best Music Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Special Visual Effects. It also received a special scientific award for the creation and application of Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography, which helped make the combination of live action and animated actors in the film possible.
• The special effects work on the film was the most challenging the studio had known. Everything from the two-strip sodium process and piano wire to bungee cords were used to create the magic sequences.
• The film began its fabulous box office run at a lavish premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater on August 27, 1964, becoming Disney's most successful feature at that time.
• At the film's premiere, Pamela Travers, author of the "Mary Poppins" stories, approached Disney and commented, "Miss Andrews is satisfactory as Mary Poppins, but Mr. Van Dyke is all wrong, and I don't really like mixing the little cartoon figures with the live actors. When do we start cutting it?" Disney didn't change a thing.
• Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, meaning fantastic or excellent, is not the longest word in the English language. The 45-letter pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokonios, a special form of silicosis caused by ultra-microscopic particles of siliceous volcanic dust, is.
• "The Simpsons" spoofed the movie with an episode featuring a housekeeper named Sherry Bobbins. Unfortunately, she wasn't as successful as Mary Poppins in reforming the family -- or getting away at the end!