Sister Suffragette

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"Sister Suffragette" is the pro-suffrage protest song pastiche sung by Mrs. Winifred Banks in the 1964 Walt Disney film Mary Poppins. The melody of the song was originally used for a scrapped piece called "Practically Perfect". It was written and composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, and was performed by Glynis Johns.

The lyrics mention Emmeline Pankhurst, who with her daughters founded the Women's Social and Political Union in Manchester. Some of the words are: "Our daughters' daughters will adore us, and they'll sing in grateful chorus, well done, Sister Suffragette!"[1]

Original version[edit]

The melody from this song was borrowed from an earlier song entitled, "Practically Perfect" which had, by then, been deleted from the 1964 film production. According to the songwriters in their autobigraphical book, Walt's Time, Actress Glynis Johns had thought that she was being offered the eponymous role when in fact she had been slotted to play "Mrs. Banks" instead. To amplify Disney's and Johns' mutual embarrassment, the misunderstanding only became apparent while both parties sat opposite each other in Walt Disney's Burbank studio lot office. Thinking quickly, Disney softened the actress's disappointment by telling her of the 'terrific new song' which the Sherman Brothers had written, especially for her. Disney called up the songwriters, telling them how he was "just about to take Johns to lunch and how she was looking forward to hearing the new song following the meal", all within earshot of the actress. The Sherman Brothers deciphered Disney's coded hint, working feverishly through their own lunch hour. Originally the lyrics for "Practically Perfect" read:

"I'm Practically Perfect in every way
In ev'rything I do and in everything I say"

In record time, the lyric evolved into:

"We're clearly soldiers in petticoats
Dauntless crusaders for women's votes!"

The Mary Poppins stage musical contains a song entitled "Practically Perfect" which is based heavily on the original but contains none of the tune. The replacement song is instead called "Being Mrs. Banks".

Literary sources[edit]

  1. ^ Pg. 50, Walt's Time: from before to beyond, Sherman, Robert B., Santa Clarita: Camphor Tree Publishers, 1998.