In the early spring of 1973, the fate of The Julie Andrews Hour hung in the balance. Everyone knew that at some point the word would come down—either they would be renewed for another season or cancelled. Meanwhile, everyone, including Julie Andrews, continued to work as hard as they could to make the show a success. Success would mean their ratings had gone up.
During the early spring, Julie Andrews gave a number of interviews. Interestingly, these interviews reveal that during the late 1960s, Julie considered her career to be in decline. Now knowing what the future held, the success or failure of The Julie Andrews Hour must have held an even greater importance to her. Nevertheless, she spoke logically about the possible cancellation of the show saying, “…all you can do is your best.”
In an interview which appeared in the May 1973 McCall’s, as she considered the possible verdict about the show, Julie is quoted as saying,
“Of all the people who will know, they tell me I’ll be first, which, it seems to me, would only be good manners.”
As it turned out, that is not what happened.
Sometime in late February or early March, (between Episode 20 with Sandy Duncan and Sergio Franchi and Episode 22 with Carol Lawrence and Steve Lawrence), the star and crew of The Julie Andrews Hour learned that ABC was cancelling the show; there would not be a second season.
Julie later stated that she learned the news with everyone else. From this, we can only imagine that the announcement took place on a Monday at one of the production meetings, when everyone was gathered on the stage, preparing for that week’s show. It is difficult to imagine the feelings onstage that day. Yet being the professional that she was and is, Julie continued on just like everyone else. Whatever emotions she felt were kept private. In her McCalls interview she states that if the show is cancelled, she will feel bad for everyone who has worked so hard. However, several years later, when being questioned on a television interview about her career, her pain and bitterness is evident. There is a hurt in her voice that reminds one of the pain in Princess Diana's voice when being interviewed about the break-up of her marriage to Prince Charles.
The only female writer on the team of writers, Lila Garrett, feels that the cancellation of The Julie Andrews Hour didn’t necessarily have to do with the ratings. Later, Ms Garrett produced a television series which was also cancelled in it's first season. This series was among the top five rated shows, but, Ms. Garrett states, because of studio politics, her show was axed anyway.
Producer Nick Vanoff’s sister, Sandy Vanoff, who replaced Vanoff's assistant Nancy Heydron in January of 1973, also has memories of the cancellation.
“I do remember when we got word the show was cancelled.
Lots of disappointment and really hard to believe they cancelled
the show after one season, especially since each and every show
was like producing a network special. The hours were long but the
experience was like no other.”
In hindsight, it seems clear that The Julie Andrews Hour should not be judged on the fact that it was cancelled. The wonder is that it was ever created at all!
© Michelle Russell
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