The last paradise in a crazy world
Julie Andrews became world-famous as Mary Poppins, and as she has always been so enchanted by the holiday region of Gstaad, the commune of Saanen has now bestowed the British actress and Oscar winner with honorary citizenship.
It was her quote, now more true than ever, saying that “Gstaad is the last paradise in a crazy world." In this sentence she summed up the region's key values in a unique way. Julie Andrews left her most visible mark in the 1970s. Both she and her husband Blake Edwards, who passed away in December 2010 and was a famous director and producer of top-notch Hollywood films, were already regular visitors to the region at that time.
Donation of Christmas lighting
Julie Andrews has always had a particular liking for the local chalet style. Saddened that the beautiful roofs wouldn’t really show in wintertime, she spontaneously decided to donate Christmas lighting to the whole village. For the 12 years to follow, the actress also paid for maintenance and the decorators for the lighting. The characteristic gable lights on the houses, the so-called "Julie lamps", still adorn countless houses in Saanenland to this day during the darkest time of year, highlighting the region's world-famous charm.
Pink Panther lured to Gstaad
Thanks to her large number of friends and acquaintances in the film industry, Julie Andrews brought international stars to Gstaad including Audrey Hepburn, who is best known for her role in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Julie's husband, Blake Edwards, immortalised Gstaad in the 1970s and 1980s in two classic movies from his Pink Panther series. The lead actor, American star comedian Peter Sellers, fell in love with the village during filming and decided on the spur of the moment to buy a chalet, where he often spent his holidays until his death.
Introduced "Dr. Zhivago" to the Menuhin Festival
In "The Tamarind Seed", which was also filmed in Gstaad, Julie Andrews played the lead role alongside Omar Sharif, who was a world star at the time and is most famous for classic movies such as "Dr. Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia". He also became a regular visitor to Gstaad, where he was a regular guest at the Menuhin Festival. It was in their chalet that Blake Edwards wrote the script for another huge success: "Victor/Victoria" with Julie Andrews in the leading role, which was to become a showstopper Broadway musical. "He always claimed that he came up with the best ideas in Gstaad," says Julie Andrews about her late husband.
Film music festival "Cinemusic" founded in Gstaad
From 1995 to 1998, the couple Edwards-Andrews founded and supported the film music festival "Cinemusic", which they organised in Gstaad. It was thanks to their personal connections that other international showbiz stars such as Liza Minnelli, musician and legendary producer Quincy Jones, composers Michel Legrand and Henry Mancini, Roman Polanski, singer Zucchero, entertainer Caterina Valente and Claude Nobs from the Montreux Jazz Festival came to Gstaad.
Always ready to support local causes
With all of their exceptional engagements, Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards have greatly contributed to making Gstaad a world-famous resort. “They deserve special thanks and recognition," emphasises the commune of Saanen. Whenever she was asked to do something to help the region, Julie Andrews was always happy to follow. According to the Mayor of Saanen, Aldo Kropf, “Julie Andrews always said that she wanted to give something back to the place she considers home”.
Unanimous vote for Julie Andrews
In a unanimous vote and with great applause, the communal assembly agreed to award her honorary citizenship of the commune of Saanen on 28 March 2014 at Hotel Landhaus Saanen. The official ceremony had taken place on June 6, 2014 at the Kapälliplatz in the heart of Gstaad’s Promenade. Julie Andrews was very moved and reaffirmed her close ties with the region. As her present to the community she revealed at the fountain the sculpture “Sitting Duck” which her husband Blake Edwards had created.