Julie Andrews (13) performs for George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1948.

Julie Andrews (13) performs for George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1948.British Pathé / YouTube

In Nov 1948 Julie Andrews, who would go on to star in "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music", became the youngest solo artist to perform at a Royal Command Variety Performance, British Pathé captured the moment.

On November 1, 1948, Julie Andrews, aged 13, became the youngest solo performer ever to be seen in a Royal Command Variety Performance before King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the London Palladium.

In this British Pathé footage, we see Andrews singing the British National Anthem for the King and Queen. On the night she performed alongside  Danny Kaye, the Nicholas Brothers, and the comedy team George and Bert Bernard. The show was presented by Val Parnell. In the clip, Andrews runs on in front of Danny Kaye wearing a white A-frame dress and begins to sing, the audience joins in.

Julie Andrews

Dame Julie Andrews started out her career in London's West End, in 1948, and made her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend (1954). Billed as “Britain’s youngest prima donna”, she rose to prominence starring in Broadway musicals such as My Fair Lady (1956) playing Eliza Doolittle, and Camelot (1960) playing Queen Guinevere.

Andrews made her feature film debut in Mary Poppins (1964), and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the title role. She starred in The Sound of Music (1965), playing Maria von Trapp, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

In 2000, Andrews was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the performing arts. 

Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music".

Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music".

British Pathé

Before television, people came to movie theatres to watch the news. British Pathé was at the forefront of cinematic journalism, blending information with entertainment to popular effect. Over the course of the 20th century, it documented everything from major armed conflicts and seismic political crises to the curious hobbies and eccentric lives of ordinary people. If it happened, British Pathé filmed it. 

Now considered to be the finest newsreel archive in the world, British Pathé is a treasure trove of 85,000 films unrivaled in their historical and cultural significance.

* Originally published in Feb 2020.