Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Promoting Poppins : The Merchandise of Mary Poppins

The Walt Disney Company today are pros when it comes to knowing how to promote their latest films but, back in the day, they had the marketing game pretty well in hand, too. 

In 1964, without the aid of the internet or a bombardment of television commercials, they promoted Mary Poppins to countries all over the world. And once the film became the success that it was ( critical acclaim, $31 million in box office receipts, 13 Academy Award nominations ) companies clamored to Disney to obtain permission to place Poppins on their products

Judging from the number of different products that were released over the next 10 years, Disney was pretty liberal in granting this permission. Below we have assembled a little gallery of some of the most popular Mary Poppins products of the 1960s and 1970s for you to peruse. If we are missing any, let us know and we will add it to the gallery. 


Coloring Books & Other Activity Books

This Whitman coloring book features some really spot-on illustrations of Julie Andrews and the Poppins children. 

Since Mary Poppins always had a bit of magic up her sleeves ( or hiding in her carpet-bag ), this set features a bit of magic, too....magic wipe-off crayons. 

Another magical book.....paintless and dot-to-dot coloring. What could be easier? Just brush the paper with water and watch the pictures appear, pictures as lovely as Bert could draw himself.

A Golden Funtime Coloring Book. Not sure what the "cut out" means. Tear sheets?

Most coloring book covers liked to feature Mary Poppins in her customary flying pose, complete with umbrella open. 

On this cover, she sports some fancy yellow boots and is flying over a freeway. If Mary Poppins supports Shell Oil then that is the gas to use! 

Story Books & Comic Books

A beautiful cover from Gold Key comics emphasizing how Poppins is "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" ( you won't see this word typed twice in one post! )

A Golden Look-inside Book. Five little books hidden inside this one. If they all feature interior art as cute as this cover, I'm buying it. 

This is an interesting Spanish language storybook. Note how much Mary Poppins looks like a female bullfighter here. 

The classic Little Golden Book cover, probably one of the best-selling Mary Poppins pieces of merchandise. 
And look how cute the drawings are inside! 

A Golden Press souvenir book featuring photographs and behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the film.


Colorforms were cut pieces of vinyl that stuck "like magic" to the background cling surface. In this case, that surface image is Mary Poppins in her undergarments. 

The original Colorforms box art. Mary Poppins hair color is more of a reddish tint and her clothing is of a solid color. 

Paper Dolls

Paper dolls with no scissors needed, just a bit of punching will get them right out of their pockets. 

This set, from Whitman, gave you plastic stands to display them on. 

A Golden Funtime book offered a whole bunch of activities in one: 4 paper dolls, story to read, pictures to color, and a carousel to build. 

Good looking doll clothing, too. 

Record Albums & 45s

The 33rpm and its reissue with the cassette tape of the read-along storybook featuring the same cover artwork. 

Another "story and songs" book, this time with Marni Nixon doing the voice of Mary Poppins and Richard M. Sherman reading, too. Richard is one half of the Sherman Brothers, the songwriting duo who composed the music to Mary Poppins

A cover variation of the same record. 
Disneyland Records was a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company so not only did they collect from other companies' merchandise but they marketed their own, too!

This 45 record featured "One Man Band" as a bonus song, which was the tune that Bert sang in the opening of the film ( to the melody of "Chim-Chim-Cheree" )

A blurry image of one of the original album covers. 

This was the most famous release and it is quite common to see it at rummage sales and second-hand stores. The sheet music featured the same painted artwork.

And, of course, there were covers released.....the big band maestro Lawrence Welk was one of the first to release a Poppins album. 

Then Duke Ellington toyed with the music.....

....and even Ray Walston "spoke" the lines in rhythm. 

This British release featured a rather dark looking design on its cover. 

Whereas the illustrator who painted the cover to this later ( 1968-1975 ) release decided to redesign Mary Poppins and the children altogether. They look like Edith Nesbit characters here. 

This cute cover was from another British release. Note the Indian and the gent with the top hat. 

This is the funniest looking cover from the New York Theatre Orchestra LP release. Mary Poppins looks like a dressed mannequin here ( a male one at that! ).

Another unusual cover, this one clearly inspired by the art of Peter Maxx. Mary Poppins looks "high" in this drawing, and not because she is flying in the air!

A British release album, featuring the Mike Sammes Singers. This fine group ( sort of the British version of the Ray Conniff Singers ) often did Disney cover albums to coincide with the release of their new films.

And speaking of Ray Conniff.....this chorus would never pass up a chance to do those great Poppins tunes. 

Sticker Books

A lovely cover to a sticker fun book, featuring some smug looking horses. 

Another sticker book, this one from a later release. 


Advertisments were a bit more difficult to find. Hefty featured some great artwork of Mary Poppins toting her carpetbag ( not garbage bags? ) in the air. 

And Kraft Chocolates offered a fantastic prize for this giveaway advertisement: a carpetbag filled with $10,000 in cash! I wonder who the lucky winner of that contest was. 

Dolls and Dollcraft

McCall's issued a stuffed doll sewing pattern and then followed it up with some more patterns featuring costume variations. These patterns can be found on Etsy. 

A series of dolls released by E.I. Horsman as early as 1963. Tonner released a series of dolls more recently that feature a stunning array of wardrobe changes. 


This lunchbox from Aladdin came in two options, tin or vinyl. 


And who can forget puzzles! This is a simple frame-tray puzzle from Whitman....

...and then there is this unusual block puzzle with picture scenes. 

I would have liked to own this one....Bert conducting the animal choir.

And lastly, a Jaymar interlocking Mary Poppins Picture Puzzle featuring the final scene in the movie, Let's Go Fly a Kite. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Yvonne Mitchell, Author & Playright

At some point in their career, most actresses feel the need to write an autobiography, but while there are many actresses who penned one of these personal books of praise, there are very few who put a quill in hand to write something more than an autobiography - to write a book. Lilli Palmer, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Julie Andrews are several actresses that come to mind who have made a name for themselves as authors.....another is Yvonne Mitchell. 

Did you know that this striking English actress was quite an accomplished writer? One of her early works, a play entitled The Same Sky, won an Arts Council playwriting competition in 1951 and was performed at the Nottingham Playhouse that same year. Her writing may have possibly came about from her desire to address her feelings about being Jewish, which was a bit uncommon in the English stage scene. This play is set in London during the Blitz and deals with a romance between a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man and the reaction of their families to this arrangement. 

Mitchell in "Woman in a Dressing Gown" ( 1957 )
Mitchell's husband, Derek Monsey, was a theater critic, journalist, and novelist himself, so they shared a passion for writing as well as for the theater. In 1957, at the height of her career, she wrote her autobiography entitled "Actress". That same year, she penned "Colette", one of the best biographies of the famous French author. Even while she was busy throughout the late-1950s and 1960s making films such as Passionate Summer, Tiger Bay, Sapphire, Conspiracy of Hearts, and The Trials of Oscar Wilde, she didn't put her writing on the backburner. It was during this time that she wrote "The Bed-Sitter" ( 1959 ), "A Year in Time "( 1964 ), "Cathy Away" ( 1964 ), and "The Family" ( 1967 ).

In the 1970s, Mitchell eased away from films and focused more on theater work, nonetheless, she also wrote novels such as: "Martha on Sunday" ( 1970 ), "But Wednesday Cried" ( 1974 ), "God is Inexperienced" ( 1974 ), "Fables" ( 1977 ), and "But Answer Came There None" ( 1977 ). 

There are so many reasons why fans and critics adore Yvonne Mitchell and it is wonderful that she was able to take her writing, which was a creative outlet for her, and build a reputation for herself as an author as well.

This entry is a part of our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!