Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Sound of Silence


Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Darling Lili, and The Princess Diaries; these are just a few of the shows/movies Julie Andrews has performed in. Throughout her career as a movie star, broadway star, recording artist, mother, and wife, Miss Andrews has always enjoyed singing and acting on stage. Who knew that in 1997 she wouldn’t be able to sing again. Because of all of her years singing day in and day out, Julie,68, developed non cancerous polyps on her vocal chords. She decided to have them removed through a routine procedure so she could continue with her career in the spotlight. The surgery went horribly wrong when the doctor left a huge hole in her vocal chords after removing one of the polyps. For five days after the surgery, Julie couldn’t even speak. She was devastated.

“Somehow, the operation went wrong," she says. "It shouldn't have. It was a matter of time, I was told. So I waited patiently. And waited. Its' affected the middle register singing voice. My speaking voice has come back, but I still can't sing a song."

"If you heard her voice, you'd weep," her husband Blake, 77, told a magazine. "I don't think she'll sing again. It's an absolute tragedy."

"That just about sums it up," admits Andrews, frankly. "Thank God I wasn't younger. I mean, at least I've had a wonderful career ………"I'm still hoping it will reverse itself," she continues. "But it's been a long time now. My doctors don't hold out much hope, but say that I should continue practicing."

And so she vocalises at home for about half an hour morning and night, apparently without much improvement. "Not to sing with an orchestra or not to be able to communicate through my voice - which I've done all my life - and not to be able to phrase lyrics and give people that kind of joy is totally devastating," she says.

After the tragedy, Julie decided to sue the doctors. It means that Andrews' lawyers are busy with a massive suit over what she claims was a “botched operation to remove non-cancerous polyps from her vocal cords.” She is seeking, says the lawsuit, "substantial damages to compensate for loss of past and future earnings." "I'm still very optimistic," says Andrews with that familiar, sweet smile. "I have to be. I can't think of the alternative. But it's very definitely a major setback."

Dame Julie remains positive. "I don't know what I'm meant to learn from this but I've never been busier and I must say life is very good right now."

Aside from acting in such recent movies as The Princess Diaries, and The Princess Diaries II, Julie has written many best-selling children’s books such as: Dragon (Hound of Honor), Dumpy’s Apple Shop, Dumpy to the rescue, Dumpy and the Firefighters, Simeon’s Gift, Dumpy and the Big Storm, Little Bo in France, etc. Along with writing children’s books herself and with her daughter Emma, Julie is very active in community service, and loves to keep busy.

“I remember those earlier years, very very well and I think they're probably more interesting. In any event, it will be a challenge. It's easier for me to take risks as I grow older. I'm getting braver, maybe because I have less to lose. But I don't feel ready to retire or anything. Like that. I don't see why it should be considered. I seem to be as busy as ever."