The love story that brought British magic to Hollywood

In 1959, over a quiet fireside dinner at the Walton family home, they got engaged — “fell in,” because it wasn’t entirely on purpose. “We looked at each other and smiled, and honestly I don’t know how it happened, but one of us whispered to the other, ‘We should be getting married soon,'” Andrews wrote. And that was it. The Waltons popped champagne, everyone assumed the engagement was official and soon after Princess Alexandra congratulated them at the Royal Garden Party. “I was surprised she knew,” Andrews said. The wedding was set for May 10, 1959, and Tony designed Andrews’ dress – an ankle-length organza-covered dress with a high neck, long sleeves and a long train – and a wedding band – an engraved Cartier ring in the shape of a laurel wreath, matching the brooch of the same house he had given her to mark their engagement. The ceremony took place at St Mary’s Church in Oatlands and was attended by nearly 300 guests, including Maggie Smith.

A few hours later, they had already set foot on the other side of the Atlantic, checking into the Beverly Hills Hotel for a work honeymoon. Little did they know that in 1963 they would return to the same hotel to embark on the Hollywood chapter of their lives. This time they were Walt Disney’s guests. Upon seeing Andrews’ Broadway performance in Camelot, Disney rushed backstage to find the star and her husband in his dressing room. He offers her the lead role in a live action/animation fusion to which he has acquired the rights: a little thing called Mary Poppins. “And what are you doing, young man?” Walt asked Walton, who replied that he was a set designer and a costume designer. “So when you come to California, you should bring your wallet with you.” He was hired too.

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