Learn the Backstory and Interesting Facts About the Classic Mary Poppins

The much beloved Marry Poppins, is a fun filled Disney movie, based on the book by P.L. Travers. The movie’s plot surrounds the Banks family, and their childrens new nanny. Their nanny, Mary Poppins and her friend Bert, take the children, Jane and Michael, on many amazing adventures. The film unfolds in Edwardian London and tells the story of the Banks family, who find their lives transformed by the arrival of a magical and enigmatic nanny, Mary Poppins.

Played with captivating charm and grace by Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins is a character who combines a no-nonsense attitude with a touch of whimsy, bringing joy and wonder into the Banks household. Her unique approach to childcare, coupled with fantastical adventures and a little bit of magic, has a profound impact on the family, especially on the young Banks children, Jane and Michael.

The film is renowned for its innovative mix of animation and live-action sequences, a technological marvel at the time, which immerses the audience in a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Memorable scenes, such as the animated journey into a chalk pavement picture and the rooftop dance with chimney sweeps, showcase the film’s creative brilliance. The narrative is further enriched by its unforgettable music by the Sherman Brothers, featuring classic songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” which have since become ingrained in popular culture.

“Mary Poppins” is not just a showcase of cinematic ingenuity; it also delves into themes of family, the importance of childhood wonder, and the realization that even the most mundane aspects of life can be filled with magic. This timeless classic, which earned Julie Andrews an Academy Award for Best Actress, continues to capture the hearts of audiences, serving as a delightful reminder of the joy and enchantment that movies can bring.

PL Travers

Mary Poppins the Book Series

Pamela Lyndon Travers, better known as P.L. Travers, was an Australian-born British writer, best known for her “Mary Poppins” book series. Her life and work were marked by a rich literary career, a complex personal history, and a famously protective attitude towards her most famous creation. Travers created the character of Mary Poppins, a magical and whimsical nanny, and the first book was published in 1934. The series, which eventually included eight books, became her most famous work and a classic of children’s literature.

Travers relationship with Walt Disney, who adapted “Mary Poppins” into a film in 1964, was famously contentious. Travers was protective of her creation and often clashed with Disney over the adaptation, particularly disliking the film’s animation sequences and its treatment of the Poppins character.

Amazing and Memorable Characters

The musical features a cast of memorable characters brought to life by talented actors. Here’s an overview of the main characters and the actors who portrayed them:

  1. Mary Poppins – Played by Julie Andrews: Mary Poppins is the film’s titular character, a magical and enigmatic nanny who arrives to care for the Banks children. She’s known for her firm but kind approach, whimsical adventures, and her iconic umbrella and carpetbag. Julie Andrews’ portrayal of Mary Poppins, marked by her impeccable singing and acting, earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
  2. Bert – Played by Dick Van Dyke: Bert is a jack-of-all-trades with a cheerful disposition, working variously as a street artist, chimney sweep, and one-man band. He is a close friend of Mary Poppins and accompanies her and the children on their adventures. Dick Van Dyke’s performance, especially his dance sequences and Cockney accent, is one of the film’s highlights.
  3. George Banks – Played by David Tomlinson: Mr. Banks is the patriarch of the Banks family. He is a banker by profession and is initially depicted as uptight and disconnected from his family. His character undergoes significant development through the film.
  4. Winifred Banks – Played by Glynis Johns: Mrs. Banks is the mother of the Banks children. She is depicted as a kind and caring woman, involved in the suffragette movement. Her character adds a layer of social commentary to the film.
  5. Jane Banks – Played by Karen Dotrice: Jane is the older of the Banks children. She is intelligent and curious, and, along with her brother, learns valuable life lessons from Mary Poppins.
  6. Michael Banks – Played by Matthew Garber: Michael is Jane’s younger brother. He is playful and mischievous and shares several adventures with Mary Poppins and Jane.
  7. Uncle Albert – Played by Ed Wynn: Uncle Albert is a minor but memorable character known for his infectious laughter, which causes him to float in the air. His scene provides one of the film’s most humorous moments.
  8. Admiral Boom – Played by Reginald Owen: Admiral Boom is the Banks’ eccentric neighbor, a retired naval officer who maintains nautical discipline at his home.

Interesting Facts About the Original Mary Poppins Movie

Here are some fun facts that you may not have known:

  • It took more than 20 years to convince the author of Mary Poppins to sell the movie rights.
  • Julie Andrews almost passed on the movie, because she was hoping to be cast as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, so she didn’t accept Disney’s offer right away.
  • Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent has been named one of the worst accent attempts in film history.
  • Disney was sued over “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Even though the Sherman Brothers claimed they made the word up themselves, a 1949 song called “Supercalafajaistickespeealadojus” would seem to say otherwise.
  • Even though Dick Van Dyke was already cast at Bert, he really wanted to play the role of the villainous old bank president Mr. Dawes. He persuaded Walt Disney by screen-testing for the role and agreeing to make a donation to Cal Arts.
  • After the film became a huge hit, Walt Disney Studios made plans for a sequel, but P.L. Travers, the author of the book Mary Poppins, turned them down.
  • P.L. Travers ended up hating the resulting film. When she attended the screening — to which she had to beg for an invitation — she cried all the way through.
  • Thirty songs were written for the film, but twenty were cut.
  • The song “A Spoonful of Sugar” was inspired by the polio vaccine.
  • Walt Disney’s favorite song ever was “Feed the Birds.”
  • Some of the nannies at the beginning of the film were actually men dressed as women.

Dick Van Dyke

Mary Poppins Returns – the Sequel

Released in 2018, this film was directed by Rob Marshall and sought to capture the magic and spirit of the original while introducing a new story and characters. Here are some key details about “Mary Poppins Returns”:

  1. Timeline and Setting: “Mary Poppins Returns” is set in 1930s London, during the Great Depression, which is about 25 years after the events of the original film. The story revolves around the now-grown Banks children, Michael and Jane.
  2. Plot: The narrative follows the return of Mary Poppins to the Banks household after a family tragedy leaves Michael and his three children reeling. Once again, she brings her unique blend of whimsy, wisdom, and magic to help the family rediscover joy and wonder in the face of adversity.
  3. Mary Poppins Recast: Emily Blunt steps into the iconic role of Mary Poppins, bringing her own interpretation to the character. Blunt’s performance pays homage to Julie Andrews’ original portrayal while adding her own flair.
  4. New and Returning Characters: The film introduces new characters, including Jack, a lamplighter played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who serves as the counterpart to Dick Van Dyke’s Bert from the original film. The cast also includes Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks and Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks.
  5. Music and Choreography: Like its predecessor, “Mary Poppins Returns” features a score and original songs that are central to its storytelling, composed by Marc Shaiman, with song lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. The musical numbers are choreographed to capture the same energy and creativity as the original.
  6. Nods to the Original: The film includes numerous references and nods to the original “Mary Poppins,” including animated sequences reminiscent of the 1964 film. It maintains a balance between paying tribute to the classic and forging its own identity.


“Mary Poppins” is celebrated for its imaginative story, catchy music, and groundbreaking blend of live-action and animation. The cast’s performances, particularly those of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, have made the characters enduring favorites in the world of cinema. The film remains a beloved classic, enchanting audiences across generations with its magic, music, and heartwarming narrative.