August 27, 1964 – The Live-Action and Animated Film Mary Poppins Premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theater
“We’re looking forward to this [film], because it’s a fine combination when you can get Walt Disney and Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke together. I think it should be a lot of fun.” – Actor James Franciscus.
On August 27, 1964, the film Mary Poppins had its Hollywood premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California. The premiere was broadcast live on Los Angeles television, with a separate radio broadcast of the festivities. The premiere guests were interviewed at the two separate stations. Guests included Maureen O’Hara, James Franciscus, Celeste Holm, Walter Slezack, the cast of the Dick Van Dyke Show, Agnes Moorehead, Annette Funicello and her fiancé Jack Gilardi, Roddy McDowall, Suzanne Pleshette, Carol Lynley, Buddy Ebsen, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, and Brian Keith, among others. Members of the cast and crew of the film also attended, including director Robert Stevenson, who gave a tribute to CalArts (which had opened a mere three years prior), Reta Shaw (the cook, Mrs. Brill), and co-writer and co-producer Bill Walsh.
The festivities included characters dressed as familiar Disney characters, such as Goofy, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Seven Dwarves. Costumed characters of the penguins, as well as a band of pearlies, were also part of the entertainment, with the penguins dancing with Dick Van Dyke on his arrival. When asked about the film, Van Dyke said, “It’s my third motion picture, but the best one I’ve ever been in, the best one I ever will be in, if I live to be 150 years old. To me, this is the greatest family classic of all time…I’m so proud to be in this picture, I can’t stand it.” Van Dyke, along with Julie Andrews and Walt Disney, were interviewed together near the end of the broadcast, with all three proud of the film and looking forward to premiere.
After the premiere, Technicolor hosted a party for the guests at the parking lot next door to the theater. A radio broadcast was also provided, with every guest interviewed raving about the film, calling it a classic, and stating that the premiere was very reminiscent of the Hollywood premieres of old. Andrews and Van Dyke were proclaimed to be the greatest two new stars of the time.