- “The man's gone mad. Call the guard!”
- ―Mr. Dawes Sr.
Considered a giant in the world of finance during 1910, Mr. Dawes Sr. was the elderly chairman of the London bank that employed George. He had apparently been in charge for a good many years, as he was able to recall when George's father worked for the bank. By the time of the film, however, he had become very elderly. He was known to lose his balance easily, even when walking with a cane, and wheezed often. However, he still seemed to have his wits about him, as he was able to successfully run the bank. George, as well as the other bank members, tried hard to please him.
However, this success did not seem to continue into other aspects of his life. Mr. Dawes Sr., like George, was a very practical man and believed such things as feeding birds to be a waste of time and money. He had one known son, Mr. Dawes Jr., who also worked at the bank, and their relationship did not appear to be very loving.
Role in the films
Mr. Dawes Sr. appears as George is taking his children, Jane and Michael, on a tour of the bank. He quietly explains to them about Mr. Dawes Sr. and his prestigious reputation. Mr. Dawes Sr., after hearing from George that Jane and Michael wish to open an account with Michael's tuppence, he appears delighted, as he started around the same age. Michael rejects this idea, saying that he simply wanted to feed the birds. Mr. Dawes Sr. scoffs at the notion and begins trying to convince Jane and Michael of the wonders of finance. Michael starts to consider the offer, but when he starts to open his hand, Mr. Dawes Sr. takes the tuppence without asking. Enraged, Michael attempts to retrieve it, unintentionally causing a run on the bank. Finally, he snatches it from Mr. Dawes Sr. and runs off with Jane.
Later that night, Mr. Dawes Sr. summons George back to the bank. With Mr. Dawes Sr. instructing Mr. Dawes Jr. on what to say, the latter fires George, for indirectly causing the bank run by failing to control Michael's behavior. Mr. Dawes Sr. then asks if George has anything to say, but is frightened when he suddenly begins laughing. George, in a sudden good mood, says "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and tells Mr. Dawes Sr. Uncle Albert's wooden leg joke. He then leaves singing "A Spoonful of Sugar". While Mr. Dawes Jr. comments that George must have gone mad, Mr. Dawes Sr. ponders the joke. He suddenly gets it and begins laughing. Much to the surprise of the other bank officers, he floats up into the air.
The next morning, George takes his family kite flying as part of his new resolution to be a better family man. There, he meets Mr. Dawes Jr., who is kite flying with the other bank officers. He compliments George on his joke, stating that Mr. Dawes Sr. had literally died laughing. George expresses his condolences, but Mr. Dawes Jr. responds that there is nothing to be sorry about. He continues, saying that Mr. Dawes Sr. had never been happier in his life, and offers George a partnership in the bank, which has been left open by Mr. Dawes Sr.'s death.
Mary Poppins Returns
Mr. Dawes Sr. doesn't appear in the sequel, which takes place twenty-five years after the original film, due to the fact of him already being deceased, nor is he mentioned. However, the bank is revealed to have prospered since his death, having recovered from the bank run of the first film by the time of The Great Depression. Also, the personality of his grand-nephew, William Weatherall Wilkins, matches closely to that of him, given that both run the bank with questionable means, though Wilkins is more corrupt in general, unlike Mr. Dawes Sr..
Additionally, near the end of the film, Mr. Dawes Jr. reveals to the Banks family that when George convinced Michael to give him his tuppence so he could invest it rather than giving it to the Bird Woman, George actually did so until it grew up into a large fortune enough to save the Banks home from being seized, ultimately proving that both George and Mr. Dawes Sr. were right all along that it will eventually grow in a large sum.
Though unnamed, a character with the same position as Mr. Dawes Sr., appears in the musical. Known as the bank manager, he is George's boss. In the musical, the bank run scene is cut, and replaced with a situation in which George, choosing potential bank investments, chooses a middle-class man's factory project over a rich man's money-making scheme. When things look bad at the bank, the manager suspends him without pay.
In the second act, the manager summons George to the bank. But instead of firing him, he commends him. Apparently, his earlier choice had made a fortune for the bank. He asks what word made him so successful, to which he responds with Mary Poppins' magic word. In another scene, Winifred mentions his old cruel nanny, Ms. Andrew, to which the manager responds, "The Holy Terror", hinting that he had her as a child.
- In the closing credits, Navckid Keyd (an anagram for Dick Van Dyke) is credited as the role of Mr. Dawes Sr. instead of Van Dyke. The letters arrange themselves into his real name.
- Although he is the main antagonist, he does not share a scene with Mary.
- George Sanders, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Alastair Sim, Basil Sydney, Donald Crisp, Finlay Currie, Adolphe Menjou, Boris Karloff, Charles Carson, Albert Sharpe, Ralph Truman, Alex Mackenzie, John Laurie, and Laurence Naismith were all considered for the role.