These Secrets About Mary Poppins Are Sweeter Than a Spoonful of Sugar

In honor of Dick Van Dyke's 96th birthday, enjoy these supercalifragilisticexpialidocious facts about Walt Disney's 1964 classic Mary Poppins.

By EOL Staff Dec 13, 2021 8:00 AMTags
Watch: Emily Blunt Says Playing Iconic Mary Poppins Is a Gift

Are you ready for a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious trip down memory lane?

Because right now, in honor of Dick Van Dyke's 96th (!) birthday Dec. 13, we're looking back on a true classic: Mary Poppins

Produced by Walt Disney and directed by Robert Stevenson, the 1964 movie—also starring Julie Andrews—follows the story of a magical nanny who brings music and adventure to two neglected children in London. And, 50+ year old spoiler alert: Her efforts end up bringing them closer to their father.

Disney's movie, based on the books by P.L Travers' and adapted for the big screen by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, naturally received high praise from viewers and critics alike, going on to nab five Oscars including Best Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song. And, in 2018, everyone's favorite nanny returned with an equally spellbinding sequel starring Emily Blunt

Mary Poppins Returns Character Posters

But how well do you know one of your favorite feel good flicks? We're spooning out (with a little sugar) 10 facts that may surprise you...

The Happiest Cast on Earth

Walt Disney spoiled the cast with perks like free admission to the Disneyland theme parks.

A Kid at Heart

Dick Van Dyke—a.k.a Bert, the chimney sweep—was the biggest kid on the set. According to co-star Karen Dotrice, "He's just very, very silly. He'd stick things up his nose and do whatever it took to get us to laugh."

And the Awards Go To

Mary Poppins earned five of the 13 Academy Awards it was nominated for in 1965. Julie Andrews also won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role—Musical or Comedy. The Sherman Brothers were recognized with Grammys for Best Recording for Children and Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television.

A Spoonful of Sugar

In an effort to woo Andrews for the role, the Sherman Brothers were tasked with writing her a song that she would love. The writers struggled, but Robert Sherman's kids provided him with some great inspiration following their pain-free polio vaccinations. The polio medicine was placed on a sugar cube for the kids to eat like candy.

Fighting for the Rights

Author P.L. Travers was strongly opposed to selling the movie rights to her Mary Poppins books, but gave in to Disney after 20 years, primarily for financial reasons.

Favorite Things

"Feed the Birds" was Disney's all-time favorite song. He would even request that Richard Sherman perform it for him from time to time.

Not a Fan

It appears Travers wasn't a fan of the animated sequence when first seeing the script. "I cried when I saw it," she reportedly said. "I said, 'Oh, God, what have they done?'"


Double Duty

David Tomlinson not only portrayed Mr. Banks, but he also provided the voice of the talking parrot from Mary Poppins' umbrella.

Music to Our Ears

The Sherman Brothers wrote and composed more than 30 songs for the Mary Poppins film. Only 17 songs made the final cut.

The Birth of Disney Imagineering

Because of how successful the Mary Poppins film was, Disney was able to expand W.E.D. Enterprises, a sector which focuses on animatronics. W.E.D. Enterprises is now known as Walt Disney Imagineering.

This story was originally published on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 at 4 a.m. PT.