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How Walt Disney upset 'Poppins' author

The story behind the making of 'Mary Poppins' is to be told in a Hollywood film, starring Emma Thompson as Pamela Travers, the author who signed away the rights to Walt Disney, only to regret it.

Ms Thompson is in negotiations to play the writer who created the Poppins character in the 1930s for a series of children's books.

Tom Hanks is in talks to co-star as Mr Disney, the studio mogul who turned the tale of a magical nanny into one of the best-loved children's films.

It took Mr Disney 14 years to persuade Ms Travers to relinquish the rights. The resulting film, released in 1964, won five Academy Awards.

But Ms Travers was so horrified by the film that she wept through the world premiere. From that day until her death in 1996, she railed against Mr Disney for "betraying" the character.

The new film is titled 'Saving Mr Banks', a reference to the Disney scriptwriters' attempts to write that character out of the story.

Ms Travers hated the animated sequences, thought Ms Andrews too pretty to play the role and did not care for the songs.

"I cried when I saw it. I said, 'Oh, God, what have they done?'," the author said years later.

Her Poppins was much darker than the film version. "There was something strange and extraordinary about her -- something that was frightening and at the same time most exciting," reads a description in the books.

"Julie Andrews, a friend of mine, has all the necessary integrity to play the part -- she was just directed wrongly," Ms Travers later said.

Ms Travers became a rich woman due to the royalties, but refused to work with Disney again. The new film is a Disney production.

Her experience with Hollywood executives was so bruising that she agreed to a 'Mary Poppins' stage musical by Cameron Mackintosh on the proviso that "no Americans" be involved in its creation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent