What Happened To Julie Andrews' Voice Is Truly Heartbreaking

No one better encompasses the definition of a "living legend" than the incomparable Julie Andrews. Getting her big break in 1954 with the Broadway smash "The Boy Friend," the vocal juggernaut skyrocketed within the musical sphere, securing lead roles in the stage version of "My Fair Lady" and Rodgers & Hammerstein's television musical "Cinderella." However, in the 1960s, Andrews' star power and crystal clear vocals reached the masses when she delivered unforgettable performances in Disney's "Mary Poppins" and 20th Century Fox's "The Sound of Music." When reflecting on her career with Backstage in 2019, the Academy Award winner said, "I think the things that happened were mostly beyond my wildest dreams." She added: "Who could have imagined that life would have taken such marvelous twists and turns or that I would often be so fortunate to be in the right place at the right time."

While Andrews' career has been full of incredible highs, she has endured a series of lows, including the loss of her four-octave vocal range. In a 2019 interview with The Guardian, she labeled the incident as her biggest disappointment in life. "I had an operation and unfortunately it was not successful," she said. With Andrews' heartbreaking quote in mind, we've taken a deep dive into how the medical mishap permanently altered her voice and what she did to overcome it.

A routine operation ended in tragedy for Julie

In the 1990s, Julie Andrews continued to dominate the entertainment sphere. However, her life and career took a drastic turn in 1997 after she started experiencing issues with her world-renowned singing voice. At the time, the "Duet for One" star was poised to tour "Victor/Victoria" following its Broadway run. But before the start of her engagement, she visited her throat specialist to get assistance with some vocal discomfort she was experiencing. "I had gotten a small weak spot, I never got a nodule or anything like that, but it would occasionally swell up with a little fluid and things," she explained to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015.

The Oscar winner went on to say that during her visit, the doctor zeroed in on a cyst that was located on her vocal cords. "He said, 'If I don't make you right, you will not survive on the road.' And I knew it was wrong to do it, I didn't respect my own voice enough, and I said yes," she explained. Unfortunately, Andrews' suspicions were right, with the supposed simple procedure permanently destroying her impressive vocal range. In December 1999, two years after her botched surgery, the "On Gold Ponds" star sued the doctor in charge of the procedure for malpractice. "My inability to sing has been devastating blow," she said in a statement obtained by The New York Times. After a year-long legal battle, Andrews settled her lawsuit favorably.

Julie's vocal cord surgery left her depressed

Julie Andrews' four-octave vocal range wasn't the only thing damaged after her mismanaged surgery. In a 2019 interview with AARP The Magazine, the entertainment legend revealed that she had an identity crisis following the loss of her singing abilities. "When I woke up from an operation to remove a cyst on my vocal cord, my singing voice was gone," she explained to the publication. "I went into a depression. It felt like I'd lost my identity." While the surgery left Andrews with unforgettable wounds, both physically and mentally, she didn't let it dampen her creative spirits.

In 2004, the "Sound of Music" star surprised fans when she sang "Your Crowning Glory" in Disney's "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement." The Anne Hathaway-led sequel was the first time she had properly used her singing voice on film since her aforementioned surgery. In an interview with the Associated Press, the movie's music supervisor, Dawn Soler, opened up about the exciting moment, describing Andrews as a professional. "She nailed the song on the first take. I looked around and I saw grips with tears in their eyes," she explained (via Today). While she has taken a step back from singing since the early 2000s, Andrews has still found success using her voice. Over the last few years, "The Tooth Fairy" star has secured iconic voice acting roles in "Despicable Me" and "Bridgerton," where she plays the juicy gossip columnist Lady Whistledown.