Mary Poppins Returns features an enchanting appearance from Angela Lansbury, but is she part of the original Mary Poppins cast? Arriving 54 years after the original, Mary Poppins Returns stars Emily Blunt as the titular nanny, opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda as lamplighter Jack. Mary Poppins Returns to help the now adult Banks children, Jane and Michael (Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw, respectively), but they're not the only original characters to appear in Mary Poppins Returns. Ellen the Housekeeper is now played by Julie Walters, while David Warner plays Admiral Boom, and Jim Norton is Binnacle, his first mate.
Given the long time between movies, it's unsurprising that not many original cast members appear in Mary Poppins Returns. However, there's a brief cameo from Karen Dotrice, who played the young Jane, and the legendary Dick Van Dyke sings and tap dances at the grand old age of 93. Then there's Angela Lansbury. The same age as Van Dyke, she also showcases some outstanding vocals for a woman of her age, when she appears in the final scene as Balloon Lady. Lansbury is well associated with Disney movies, but her appearance in Mary Poppins Returns has led to many wondering if she also appeared in the original.
In fact, Lansbury was not in Mary Poppins. She was, however, the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney's original Beauty and the Beast, and also starred in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. With its mix of live-action and animation, many will have recalled that movie from their childhood and possibly confused the two, especially since David Tomlinson starred in both (as George Banks in Mary Poppins and Emelius in Bedknobs and Broomsticks). In Mary Poppins Returns, Lansbury's character, the Balloon Lady, serves the same function as the Bird Lady in Mary Poppins.
She is first seen early on in the movie, when the children are walking through the park to get groceries. Georgie asks if he can go and buy a balloon, but Annabel and John pull him away, explaining they don't have enough money. At the end of the movie, when Michael Banks' loan has been cleared, the family head to the park and the balloon lady offers Michael a balloon. She begins singing the finale number, "Nowhere to go but up," as Michael's balloon takes him high up into the sky. Jane and the Banks children also take balloons, as does Jack, and gradually more and more people ascend into the sky, including Admiral Boom and Ellen.
In Mary Poppins, the Bird Lady sits on the steps of St Paul's cathedral, as seen in Michael's snow globe, asking passers by to feed the birds for "tuppence a bag." Michael wants to give his tuppence to her, but his dad thinks he should invest it in the bank. The song that Mary Poppins sings over the scene, tells a story of giving and thinking of others (the birds, in this case, who have young to feed). Likewise, the Balloon Lady sings of hope, happiness, and letting your heart take flight. Both ladies are magical in their own way, and both their songs are standout moments in excellent movies. Angela Lansbury may not have been in Mary Poppins, but her role in Mary Poppins Returns is practically perfect in every way.