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Julie Andrews 'too pretty' to play Poppins

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This 1965 file photo shows actress Julie Andrews.  (AP Photo, File)

The Australian author of Mary Poppins told Julie Andrews that she was "far too pretty" for the role for which she won an Oscar.

Speaking at an event in London to promote her new memoir, Andrews described being in hospital following the birth of her daughter and receiving a gruff phone call from Pamela Travers.

"She said 'Well talk to me' and I said 'I'm sorry I've just had a baby yesterday, I'm feeling a bit out of it'," Andrews said.

"She said 'I understand you're going to play Mary Poppins? You're far too pretty of course, but you've got the nose for it'."

It is one of hundreds of anecdotes the actress and author has from a career in show business spanning almost 75 years.

In conversation with actor Alex Jennings - who was recently directed by Andrews as Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady - she gave an insight into her path from musicals and vaudeville shows to the silver screen.

Walt Disney himself asked her to play her Oscar-winning role of Mary Poppins.

Her second memoir is titled Home Work: A memoir of my Hollywood years and is co-written with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.

It covers her time working with the likes of Paul Newman, Gene Kelly, Rock Hudson and Burt Reynolds.

When asked for a few of her "favourite things", she said: "My kids, my garden, my dogs, my friends, I love all kinds of music, I love art and private time at home."

She said her love of her home life was why she picked the title Home Work for her book.

There's one challenge she thinks might be beyond even the magic of Mary Poppins - instilling manners into Donald Trump.

When asked by an audience member if Mary could have managed the US President, she said: "It's a difficult question, maybe Mary Poppins would have shaped him up - if only we had a chance to try."

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