When Mary Poppins came out, it instilled in us (and many generations to come) a sense of whimsy and magic. Who didn't want a nanny like Mary Poppins? Or a best friend like Bert the chimney sweep?
Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews solidified their status as Hollywood legends. The kids in the film, played by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber, were also considered instant stars.
But one of these stars met a tragic death.
Matthew Garber, who played the mischievous Michael Banks, suddenly died at the age of 21. Garber took a break from acting during his teenage years, as many child stars do.
But little did Garber (or the rest of us) know, Mary Poppins would be the last time audience would see him on the big screen.
In 1976, Garber was on a trip to India and contracted hepatitis. He was unaware he had gotten the disease, and by the time it spread to his pancreas it was too late to treat. He died one year later.
There was a rumor that Matthew Garber contracted hepatitis from unsafe drug use, but his brother denies it. He says it was likely from eating bad meat.
Karen Dotrice spoke out about her on-screen brother, saying she wishes she had kept in contact with him as the years went on.
"I can’t imagine making movies would have been half as much fun without him. He loved being naughty, finding and jumping off of small buildings on the back lot. While I was Victorian proper and wouldn’t let myself get dirty or muddy, Matthew had a great sense of fun and danger. He was a daredevil and could have been a race car driver. And he did live a full life over his 21 years."
In 2004, Matthew Garber was inducted as Disney Legend.
Rest in peace, Matthew. Thank you for the joy your brought to our lives.