Last fall, Blake Edwards told the world that he didn’t think his wife, Julie Andrews, would ever sing again.
Then Andrews defiantly said she wouldn’t let ongoing recovery from the 1997 removal of non-cancerous throat nodules get in the way of singing “do, re, mi.”
She publicly dismissed Edwards’ negativity about her hoarse condition, and was reportedly angry over the breach of privacy.
However, on ABC’s “20/20” Feb. 12, the legendary musical theatre and film actress Andrews (My Fair Lady, Camelot, “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music”) tells Barbara Walters that, in fact, she can’t sing and doctor’s don’t give her much hope of doing so.
She will try, however. "To not sing with an orchestra, to not 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, I think I would be totally devastated," Andrews, 63, tells Walters in the interview.
Will she sing?
“Well I can only say I hope so,” Andrews says. “I have to be optimistic. I think to some degree I’m in … a form of denial about it.”
In the report, Andrews denies rumors Edwards is sick with cancer.
“20/20” 10 PM (ET) Feb. 12 on ABC.
In an item to be published Nov. 22, 1998 in Parade Magazine, Edwards said, "I don't think she'll sing again -- it's an absolute tragedy. She was told she'd be OK in six weeks, the voice would actually be better. It's over a year, and if you heard it, you'd weep. There isn't a day when her voice doesn't get weak."
Andrews has performed on stage since her childhood in England. She won acclaim in The Boyfriend in London and came to the U.S. where her clarion soprano voice in Broadway's My Fair Lady and Camelot earned her Hollywood offers and subsequent international acclaim for films of "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins."
She returned to the stage for Victor/Victoria in 1995, reprising her 1982 film role. The film and stage show were both directed by Edwards. She missed several weeks of performances due to various health problems.
Prior to Victor/Victoria she had earlier performed Off-Broadway's Stephen Sondheim revue, Putting It Together, which yielded a cast album. She has also recorded two solo albums, "Julie Andrews Broadway: The Music of Richard Rodgers" and an Alan Jay Lerner disc, in the past several years.
Edwards told Parade he is working on a project about a magic act for Andrews and friend Carol Burnett. If Andrews is well enough to speak lines, it might be a Broadway show in a year, Parade reported.
It had been hoped that Andrews would tour in Victor/Victoria in 1997 but her slow recovery -- now apparently a non-recovery -- dashed hopes of that.
Richard Seff, a junior agent working for Andrews at the height of her Broadway fame in the late 1950s, said he bumped into Andrews earlier in 1998 at a Manhattan retail shop and her voice sounded fine in a social setting. He guessed she could easily continue a career of non-singing film acting, which doesn't necessarily require a big voice.
"She's a marvelous actress, this is certainly not the end," Seff speculated to Playbill On-Line Nov. 19. "It's not like she's an opera singer who had no acting career beyond the stage, beyond the music."
Recent non-singing appearances for Andrews include the June 8, 1998, Cameron Mackintosh tribute, "Hey, Mr. Producer," in London and a Sept. 28, 1998, Carnegie Hall Diva Concert.
-- By Kenneth Jones