Helen Lyndon Goff, who is more popularly known as P.L. Travers the author of Mary Poppins and the focus of Saving Mr. Banks, is responsible for bringing the world the beloved, upbeat hit. However, Travers did not like the 1964 musical cinematic portrayal, which is now being released in a special 50th Anniversary Edition. She considered the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to be ridiculous and was opposed to any cartoon element being present in the film though her protestations were ultimately unsuccessful.
According to Marc Eliot, who is the author of Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince, “Disney brought her to Hollywood and decided he would charm her into making this film, but she wasn’t very charm-able. She was a tough woman, not quirky or cute. She didn’t like American movies, and she hated animation more than anything else.”
Walt Disney was not willing to listen to insight from P.L. Travers. “Disney had no creative respect for this woman. He wanted a property, and once he got it he completely ignored her input and all the restrictions she had agreed to, and that’s how the film got made. That revisionist history, that’s part of the myth of Walt Disney,” Eliot said.
Travers was born on August 9, 1899, in Maryborough, Australia. She was well-known for her stubborn streak as well as her independent mind when making life decisions. Travers never married, dated both men and women, and socialized with talented British poets while working as an actress, writer, and journalist. Her fascination with mythology influenced the six Mary Poppins novels.
Travers died in 1996 at the age of 96, and kept her feisty persona until the very end. At the age of 94, when questioned about knowing all the answers old age claims to provide, Travers quipped, “Here I am, sitting in my chair, and I don’t think I’m going to know all the answers. I’m human.”
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]