Matthew Adam Garber was a British child actor best known for playing Michael Banks in the 1964 Disney flick ‘Mary Poppins.’ He also appeared in two other Disney movies, ‘The Gnome-Mobile’ and ‘The Three Lives of Thomasina.’ In all three of his movies, he starred alongside Karen Dotrice. Garber was a high spirited and bright boy who had a great sense of humor. He loved playing jokes on his friends, participating in adventurous activities, and reading mythology and poetry books. Garber was equally good in studies and attended St Paul's Primary School and Highgate School. Born to stage actors, he was introduced to the world of acting as a child and achieved considerable success as a young star. He quit acting in 1967. Unfortunately, he contracted hepatitis as a young man. This condition further led to haemorrhagic necrotising pancreatitis and he died at the early age of 21 in 1977. Although he left the world too soon, he had lived his life to the fullest and left behind some great memories for his family, friends, and colleagues. He was posthumously conferred the title of a Disney Legend in 2004.
Childhood & Early Life
Matthew Adam Garber was born on 25 March 1956 in Stepney, London, England, to L.L. Garber and Margot Garber. He had a younger brother named Fergus. He studied at St Paul's Primary School and later attended Highgate School in North London.
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Matthew Adam Garber made his acting debut at the age of seven in the 1963 movie ‘The Three Lives of Thomasina’. This American-British fantasy flick, directed by Don Chaffey and featuring artistes like Susan Hampshire, child actress Karen Dotrice and Patrick McGoohan, was a story about a cat and her influence on a family.
Soon after this, Garber was cast in the role of Michael Banks, the child of Mr. and Mrs. George Banks (played by David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns) in the musical fantasy film ‘Mary Poppins’ in 1964. In this movie, Garber once again appeared alongside Karen Dotrice who played the role of his sister in this Disney live-action animated flick. The performance of each actor in the movie was highly appreciated and eventually earned the entire cast worldwide recognition. In 1967, Garber and Dotrice collaborated again in the comedy fantasy film ‘The Gnome-Mobile,’ appearing as the grandchildren of a kind-hearted and wealthy lumber mogul (played by Walter Brennan). This was Garber’s final movie role.
Illness & Death
While on a trip to India in 1976-77, Garber unknowingly contracted hepatitis. By the time he returned to London several months later, the infection had already affected his pancreas. It was later reported that he probably got hepatitis from eating bad meat while on the trip. On 13 June 1977, he died at the hospital of haemorrhagic necrotising pancreatitis. He was just 21at that time.
Garber’s body was cremated at the St. Marylebone Crematorium on 16 June. His younger brother did not attend his funeral. Both of his parents died within a decade of Garber’s death.
On the Mary Poppins 40th Anniversary DVD, Garber’s co-star Karen Dotrice said that she regretted not meeting him before his death.