Dame Julie Andrews – star of movie classics Mary Poppins and The Sound Of Music – is celebrating her 80th birthday.

As she becomes an octogenarian, we look at some of our favourite things about the screen and stage legend.

1. She was everyone’s favourite magical nanny as Mary Poppins

Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins (KPA)

As soon as news broke last month that the classic 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins was getting a sequel, fans were up in arms. How could anyone replace Julie in the role?

She is the heart of the film: practically perfect in every way. She could jump through paving stones into a magical world, and she could use magic to tidy up the playroom.

Mary Poppins was Julie’s film debut and was an immediate hit. Her Poppins was smart, beautiful, witty, stern and loving – and had a beautiful voice to sing songs such as A Spoonful Of Sugar and Feed The Birds, reputed to be Walt Disney’s favourite song.

2. The Sound Of Music

Julie Andrews, star of The Sound Of Music
Julie Andrews, star of The Sound Of Music, in 2005 (Max Nash/AP)

From nanny to governess: in 1965, Julie became the star of The Sound Of Music, leaving behind Edwardian London for 1930′s Austria. It was one of the highest-grossing films of its time, with an iconic soundtrack.

The film also, for some reason, secured her transformation into a gay icon – a fact she has acknowledged. “I’m that odd mixture of, on the one hand, being a gay icon and, on the other, having grandmas and parents grateful I’m around to be a babysitter for their kids,” she told the Guardian in 2004.

3. She had a four octave singing voice

From an early age, Julie surprised with her extraordinary musical gift: a four octave soprano voice. After performing as a child in London and taking singing lessons, she went to America and made her Broadway debut on the eve of her 19th birthday.

Her voice was spectacular, and when Walt Disney saw her starring in Camelot, he decided to cast her as Poppins.

4. She handled the end of her singing career with grace and dignity

Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews (Richard Shotwell/AP)

In 1997, Julie developed hoarseness in her voice due to what may have been nodules or muscle problems. She was forced to undergo surgery – and her voice was never the same again. The surgery was not a success, leaving her with a raspy voice and putting an end to her vocal range. Further surgeries improved her speaking voice but could not bring back her soprano.

In the aftermath, Julie continued acting – including voicing characters in films such as Shrek and Despicable Me – and tried her hand at writing books such as Dumpy The Dumptruck and The Very Fairy Princess. She handled the situation with dignity, never giving up on her career in entertainment.

Julie also showed that she hadn’t given up on her voice when, in 2004, she sang on-screen for the first time since the surgery. Julie starred as Queen Clarisse Renaldi in The Princess Diaries, and sang Your Crowning Glory – a song limited to one octave. She also performed a couple of solos at the 02 Arena in London in 2010, at the age of 74.

5. She shows no sign of slowing down

Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews at the Oscars in 2015
Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews at the Oscars in 2015 (John Shearer/AP)

Retirement? Not for Dame Julie, even at the grand age of 80. Just three years ago she went on a speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand, and in August it was announced that she will direct My Fair Lady in 2016 at the Sydney Opera House.

In February 2015, she appeared with Lady Gaga at the Oscars, and looked back to her Sound Of Music days. “It’s hard to believe that 50 years have gone by since that joyous film was released. I blinked and suddenly – here I am!” she said, calling herself “lucky”.

What a woman…