Julie Andrews Is Suing Over Loss of Singing Voice

News   Julie Andrews Is Suing Over Loss of Singing Voice Julie Andrews, renowned for singing in the film, "The Sound of Music," is hoping to get some dough-re-mi from doctors who allegedly botched throat surgery to remove a small polyp in 1997.

Julie Andrews, renowned for singing in the film, "The Sound of Music," is hoping to get some dough-re-mi from doctors who allegedly botched throat surgery to remove a small polyp in 1997.

According to Reuters, Andrews, 64, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Dec. 14. The vocal-cord surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, she alleges, robbed her of singing voice and "precluded [her] from practicing her profession as a musical performer.'' She is asking for "substantial damages to compensate for loss of past and future earnings."

The hospital and two doctors, Scott Kessler and Jeffrey Libin, are named in the suit, announced by her publicist, Gene Schwam.

"Singing has been a cherished gift, and my inability to sing has been a devastating blow,'' Andrews said in a statement.

* In fall 1998, Andrews' husband, Blake Edwards, told the world that he didn't think Andrews would ever sing again.

Andrews 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, 1999, the legendary musical theatre and film actress Andrews (My Fair Lady, Camelot, "Mary Poppins," "The Sound of Music") told Barbara Walters that, in fact, she can't sing and doctors don't give her much hope of doing so.

She will try, she said.

"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 told Walters in the interview.

Will she sing?

"Well I can only say I hope so," Andrews said. "I have to be optimistic. I think to some degree I'm in… a form of denial about it."

*

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.

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.

Recent non-singing appearances for Andrews included the June 8, 1998, Cameron Mackintosh tribute, "Hey, Mr. Producer," in London and a Sept. 28, 1998, Carnegie Hall Diva Concert.

-- By Kenneth Jones