Disney has provided me with an expense paid trip to Hollywood for the Disney Frozen Event in exchange for my review of the events of the trip. No other compensation was given. The opinions and experiences in my posts are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
The Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray comes out on December 10. As part of the Disney Frozen Event I had the opportunity to screen Saving Mr. Banks, which comes out everywhere on December 20 and is a film about the true story of the making of Mary Poppins. After seeing it I was dying to watch Mary Poppins again. I’ve seen it before but not for many years and my kids have never seen it. Now I have a whole new appreciation, made even richer by meeting and chatting with Pete Menefee, an amazing talent who was one of the original chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins.
Pete was so much fun to talk to. This is a really talented, really interesting guy. Let me give you some of the highlights about what I learned about him and from him.
Pete has been retired for one year now after designing costumes for 49 years. So after his professional dancing years and work on Mary Poppins were over he became a costume designer. You can see some of his best work in the collage above. Can you guess what he told us his favorite was? KISS! He’s worked on costume design for How to Train Your Dragon and tons of ice shows, three Olympic games, and much more. The Jackson 5 and Michael are even on that list and he’s won 3 Emmys and been nominated for 5 more. Impressive!
“Bar none, Mary Poppins was the most physically demanding dancing I’ve ever done.” Pete Menefee, Mary Poppins Chimney Sweep
Pete was born in San Diego and raised in Hawaii. He told us he was a Navy brat and grew up loving Disney movies and loved to draw them. So there’s where that artistic talent started!
When he was 10 years old, he asked for tap lessons for his birthday. Pete loved it and he was good at it so he continued and was acting and dancing by the time he was 14 years old.
As a dancer in Mary Poppins he was paid $500 a week to dance. Remember that was 50 years ago and it was a heck of a lot of money at the time. A more typical weekly salary would have been $200 so this was a nice gig. But he worked for it!
“For most of us it was a gig. It was a job that summer. But we knew that it was special when we were doing it. You don’t get choreography that good every day.” Pete Menefee, Mary Poppins Chimney Sweep
Walt Disney himself was on the set every day and knew everyone’s name. “Every day that Walt would come the number would get longer,” Pete said. Walt loved their routine so much that he wanted all of their dancing and tricks put into it.
Pete used to have nightmares about clipping his nose and teeth while jumping in and out of chimneys. Wow. I think when I watched Mary Poppins last, when I was much younger, I really loved the ‘Step In Time’ routine but I didn’t appreciate it for the talent and hard work that it must have been. I watched it again after talking to Pete, this time with my jaw on the floor. The guys in that piece are just amazing. Pete told us that three guys really did do handsprings between buildings!
Pete Menefee was a joy to talk to. It really never ceases to amaze me how Disney manages to make these movies look so smooth and seamless on the big screen or DVD, and yet the amount of seriously hard work and talent that goes into making them would knock your socks off. I loved getting this behind-the-scenes look at Mary Poppins and I hope it gives you a new appreciation for the film, too!
Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray Combo Pack and HD will come out on December 10! I’m so excited about this because it includes some great new bonus features and it’s perfectly timed with the related film, Saving Mr. Banks, released in theaters later this month. I was able to screen Saving Mr. Banks while on the Disney Frozen trip and wow. Just wow. You’re going to love it. Review coming soon!
Releasing from the Disney Vault in celebration of its 50th Anniversary, creative visionary Walt Disney’s classic shines for the first time on Blu-ray. Starring Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in her Academy-Award winning role, and featuring iconic toe-tapping songs including “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Mary Poppins is a movie experience your family will enjoy again and again. An all-new digital restoration adds even more magic – helping bring the award-winning songs and amazing picture to life like never before. Share the music; share the magic; share the joy of Mary Poppins this holiday on Blu-ray Combo Pack & HD Digital December 10.
The MARY POPPINS Step In Time Trailer
Exciting! I can’t wait to introduce this classic to my kids. You can pre-order Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray Combo Pack now.
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Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray releases December 10!
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— Lindsay (@PandorasDeals) December 5, 2013