The hills are alive, with the sound of music, now doesn’t that make you want to start singing? The Sound of Music is a beloved American classic. The musical masterpiece won five Academy Awards and two Golden Globes and has rightfully earned its place as one of the greatest movies of all times. Even die-hard fans may be surprised by the secrets and scandals behind the scenes of the popular film. Continue reading to discover what the Von Trapp family are up to these days and the truths they kept hidden during filming!
The Real Maria Wasn’t in Love with Anybody
Maria and the entire von Trapp family were actually based on real people, but the movie did not get all the details exactly right. Maria, for instance, never fell in love at all. In The Sound of Music, it looks like Maria, fresh from the convent, falls head over heels in love with Captain Von Trapp the moment their eyes meet. Sadly, things didn’t happen quite that way.
In her biography from 1948, Maria in fact stated, “I liked him, but I didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, and so in a way I really married the children.” That is much less romantic than love at first sight, but still a nice sentiment.
There Was No Nazi Love Affair
In the theatrical version of the story, Liesl, the oldest von Trapp sibling, falls in love with a Nazi soldier, who later tries to turn them all in. This may be a nice plot twist, but it was completely made up by the screenwriters and never happened in reality. The writers felt that the love story would add some drama to the film.
The oldest von Trapp child was actually a boy named Rupert and not a girl named Liesl. When the movie came out, Rupert was 54 years old and working in Vermont as a doctor. Doctor Rupert liked to tell people that he was the inspiration for Liesl, without the Nazi love affair, of course.
A Father Daughter Love Affair?
One of the craziest and definitely the most uncomfortable secret from behind the scenes of The Sound of Music is that Christopher Plummer, who played Captain von Trapp, was rumored to be having a relationship with Charmian Carr, the actress who played his daughter Liesl. When they weren’t busy acting like father and daughter, the two actors, 13 years apart in age, found some time for an off-camera dalliance.
While appearing on The Oprah Winfrey show, Charmian Carr talked about the enormous crush she had developed on her co-star during their nine months of shooting. She never confirmed that there had been a physical relationship, but rumors about the affair ran rampant.
The Actors Really Didn’t Like Each Other
There are often stories in Hollywood about actors who have to pretend to be lovers or friends but really can’t stand each other. This was unfortunately the case between Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews. Despite the fact that everyone else on set loved Andrews and even called her an angel, Christopher Plummer thought she was too nice and gentle. He even told the media that working with her was like, “getting hit over the head with a Valentine card.”
Plummer was also not afraid to voice his objections to the movie’s feel good quality. He has been known to refer to it as “The Sound of Mucus,” and “S&M.” Wow, does this guy also hate rainbows and kittens?
Charmian Carr Wasn’t The Best Dancer
Actress Charmain Carr played the role of Liesl. She was young and beautiful and looked elegant and graceful, but truthfully, she wasn’t a great dancer. According to reports, Carr nearly broke her ankle while filming iconic number “16 going on 17”. In the film’s original version, a bandage can be easily spotted on her ankle, but it was digitally removed in the remastered version from 2005.
The actress talks about this in the film’s commentary, saying that people are surprised that she was injured while performing a simple dance routine. Don’t worry Liesl, no one is good at everything!
They Were Refugees
The word refugees has complicated political connotations these days. Some people believe that their country should do whatever it can to help them, while others fear them or consider them a threat to their safety or livelihood. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that the entire von Trapp family were in fact Austrian refugees.
The family left the country at the beginning of the Second World War. They left their house, took a train to Switzerland and made their way to the United States from there. The movie shows a more daring and cinematic escape in which the family crosses over the Alps. Fortunately, the reality was not as exciting. The von Trapps received a warm reception on arrival and went on to work as a traveling singing company.
The Real Maria Wasn’t Invited To The Premiere
The real Maria von Trapp was snubbed by the film’s producers! She describes the experience in one of her many memories. Maria had reached out to them asking to attend the film’s premiere and they simply replied with no. They told the woman who the movie was based on that there were no seats left.
It is unbelievable that the inspiration of the film, who actually lived through these experiences, was not invited to see the film about her own life. The producers felt that it was a waste of time and money to allocate a seat to someone who wasn’t famous and wouldn’t be photographed by the paparazzi. They invited celebrities to fill the seats instead.
Maria Was The Tough One
In the Sound of Music, the children live an overly structured, military-style life, from which they are rescued by the gentle and fun-loving Maria. She is the polar opposite of the harsh Captain von Trapp, who fills his children’s lives with endless drills and never-ending chores.
In real life, they had the exact opposite roles. Maria was in charge of the family finances and served as the director of the troupe, while the Captain mainly focused on giving encouragement. He was also not much of a stage performer and would only make a token appearance near the end of every performance.
Plummer Was Drunk On Set
Christopher Plummer is widely recognized as one of the finest actors in the last century, but no one on set was calling him an angel. Although most of the scenes in the movie featured children, Plummer confessed in the DVD commentary that he was often drunk on set. He specifically mentioned that he was more than a little tipsy during the filming of the musical festival scene.
Charmian Carr said in an interview that Christopher Plummer was always available to have a drink with her and that he is the person who really taught her how to drink. The duo spent a lot of time off camera with a drink in hand, further fueling the rumors about their relationship.
“Edelweiss” Isn’t an Austrian Song
The singing of “Edelweiss” is one of the more moving and dramatic moments in The Sound of Music. The Captain sings the song to show his love for his country, and his utter rejection of the Nazi party. Although the song represents the Captain’s devotion to Austria, it is not actually a traditional Austrian song.
The song was written by Rogers and Hammerstein especially for the musical for the Captain to perform. Ronald Reagan played the song in honor of Austrian president Rudolf Kirchschläger and his wife in 1984. The real Maria von Trapp was in attendance during the event and found the president’s error extremely amusing.
It Could Have Been Richard Dreyfuss
Richard Dreyfuss is famous for his starring role in iconic horror movie Jaws, and has nothing to do with The Sound of Music, or does he? The actor revealed in an interview that he was in the running and even auditioned for the role of one of the von Trapp siblings.
Producers thought he might make a good Friedrich. Dreyfuss disclosed that he almost got the part because of his great acting abilities but lost it in the end because he was an awful dancer. With all our love for Richard Dreyfuss, we think the producers made the right choice. The actors playing the von Trapp kids were a perfect fit.
Doris Day As Maria?
Doris Day was America’s sweetheart in the 50’s and at the height of her popularity when casting for The Sound of Music was taking place. The studio also considered actresses Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Jones, and Anne Bancroft for the part. As for the role of Captain von Trapp, Yul Brynner was briefly considered, but the main contender for the role was none other than Bond, James Bond’s Sean Connery.
Day and Connery were the front runners, but in the end studio bosses picked Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer because they felt that they were a perfect fit for the characters. Also, Doris Day couldn’t hold a candle to Julie Andrew’s amazing voice.
It’s Was Not A Hit In Austria
Despite its massive success in the United States and many other countries around the world, The Sound of Music wasn’t a hit everywhere. In Austria the movie was only on the big screen for three weeks when it was released in 1965 and wasn’t shown on TV until the year 2000. Austrians didn’t like the movie because they felt that it was too Americanized and portrayed Austrian culture in an insensitive way.
Critics also believe that Austrians took offense to the portrayal of some of their countrymen as Nazi sympathizers. They look back at the occupation with utter contempt and certainly don’t want any reminders of that dark time in their country’s history.
Fans Got A Writer Fired
The Sound of Music has some seriously devoted fans! When the film came out it was reviewed by Pauline Kael for McCall’s magazine. She felt that it was too much of a popcorn flick, and went on to say the movie was, “a sugar coated lie that people seem to want to eat. Wasn’t there perhaps one little von Trapp who didn’t want to sing his head off? Or who got nervous and threw up if he had to get on a stage?”
Fans were outraged and the review caused such an outrage that Kael was actually fired for writing it. She went on to write for The New Yorker, where her cynicism could finally be appreciated.
The real Maria had quite an eventful childhood. She was born on a moving train on the way to the hospital. She was orphaned by the young age of ten. She was then sent to live with a violent uncle, whom she decided to run away from. Maria felt an affinity for the Catholic Church, and naturally found her way to a convent.
Her connection to religion was surprising, since her foster parents were atheists. It’s a good thing that she felt that spiritual pull, otherwise she would have never met the von Trapps and spent her life with them!
More Than She Bargained For
Maria had no idea that she would end up taking care of so many children. When she received the request, she was supposed to serve as a governess for only one of the children who was sick at the time with scarlet fever. After she started working, her responsibilities increased to include all the other von Trapp children as well.
Unbelievably, the von Trapps ended up with ten children, and not just the seven shown in the film. She may have been daunted by the enormous task at first, but she quickly fell in love with each and every child in the house.
Not A Whole Lot Of Love
In the movie, romance quickly blossoms between Maria and George, but in real life nothing was further from the truth. Maria had no particular feelings for the captain, she saved them all for his children. When she met them for the first time, now that was love at first sight, but her love for George took more time to develop.
When he asked her to marry him, she accepted because of the way he proposed, asking for her hand so that someone would take care of the children. Maria was torn between her religious duties at the convent and Georg’s offer of marriage, but in the end even the nuns believed she should tie the knot.
Maria The Novelist
Maria, in an effort to show off her poor writing skills, surprised herself and the world when she inadvertently wrote a best-selling novel. The Sound of Music was inspired by her memoir titled “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”. It was published in 1949 by the J.B. Lippincott Company in Pennsylvania.
When the book gained popularity, Maria made a film deal with German producers, but little did she know that she was signing away her rights to her life story while signing the contract. This bad deal is the reason that Maria and the rest of the von Trapps never received any of the proceeds from the movie that made them famous around the world.
They Already Knew How To Sing
The movie includes a wonderful scene in which Maria shows the children how to deal with problems through singing. In real life, the von Trapp siblings were already accomplished singers and musicians. But Maria does get the credit for convincing the family to share their talent with the world. In an interview with the Washington Post in 1978, Eleonore von Trapp revealed that her father was not sure he wanted his children performing, “but accepted it as God’s will that they sing for others.
It almost hurt him to have his family onstage, not from a snobbish view, but more from a protective one.” The decision seems like a good one, since the family ended up winning first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936.
Another difference between the Hollywood version and the real story are Georg and Maria’s temperaments. The film shows Georg as the stern and distant Captain, but in fact he was a warm and loving father to his children and spent a lot of his time doing things with them. Maria, who in the film was warm and fuzzy, actually had a more volatile personality.
Maria, the second eldest daughter, in an interview from 2003, remarked that her stepmother “had a terrible temper… And from one moment to the next, you didn’t know what hit her. We were not used to this. But we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass, because the next minute she could be very nice.”
Maria Took Charge
When Maria joined the family, she made a lot of changes to the von Trapp household, and that’s without counting her angry outbursts or door slamming. She took charge of the family finances and let all of the household staff go. She also decided to take in boarders for extra income. This was actually a smart idea, because there was a worldwide depression at the time, and the bank where the von Trapps kept their fortune had collapsed, leaving them in dire financial straits.
As another source of income, the family started singing professionally. After their first prize win at the music festival, they booked performances all over Europe.
The Nazis Take Over
In the spring of 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria. At the time the von Trapps were so popular they were actually asked to perform at Hitler’s birthday celebration, but because of their disdain for the Nazi party, the family declined. George von Trapp even refused to hang the Nazi flag on their home, a decision which was potentially dangerous.
Paranoia set in as neighbor began spying on neighbor, and Nazi anti-religious propaganda ran rampant, causing children to turn on their parents. The von Trapps had a hard time accepting the harsh reality of what the Nazis were doing to their country.
Nazi Recruitment Efforts
The Nazis made every effort to keep the von Trapps in Austria. They offered to make their singing troupe even more famous and to give Georg a position in their naval fleet working with submarines. They went so far as to offer to send one of the children to medical school. These were tempting offers, but in the end, George decided he could not support the Nazi regime and the family decided to leave Austria.
Their method of getting out wasn’t quite as dramatic as the movie made it out to be and definitely did not include walking across the Alps with all their belongings. So how did they really do it?
The Not So Great Escape
Maria the daughter told the story to Opera News in 2003, “We did tell people that we were going to America to sing. And we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing.” The von Trapps, their secretary and their musical director traveled to Italy by train, where they purchased tickets to America.
Then they made their way to London and quickly boarded a ship heading for New York. After their arrival, they had a concert tour in Pennsylvania planned. What did the von Trapps think of America and how was their life after they arrived?
Coming To America
The family first came to America on a six-month visitors’ visa and after those expired, they were forced to travel back to Europe where they did a short Scandinavian tour. They were soon allowed to reenter the country but ended up spending a week at Ellis Island in New York due to an unfortunate incident. When the customs officials asked how long they were planning to stay for their second visit, instead of answering six months, which was the acceptable answer, Maria said, “Oh, I am so glad to be here—I never want to leave again!”
The issue was eventually resolved, and the family was released, but you can’t really blame Maria, the family really did end up staying a lot longer than six months.
Receiving Their Citizenship
After a few years of touring and relying on friends for a place to stay, the von Trapps settled down in Vermont. During the 1940’s, the family operated a farm and music camp there when they were not on tour. In 1944, Maria and the von Trapp daughters filed declarations of intention for U.S. citizenship, which they received by 1948. Rupert and Werner, two of the von Trapp sons, served in the U.S. Army during the Second World War and therefore became naturalized U.S. citizens.
Baby sisters Rosemarie and Eleonore, who were born to Maria from her marriage to Georg, derived their citizenship from their mother and the youngest son Johannes was born in the United States. There are no records that Georg von Trapp ever applied to become an American citizen.
Christopher Plummer as George von Trapp
Christopher Plummer played the role of Captain George von Trapp in The Sound of Music. The actor was born in Canada and was discovered during his performance in a high school play which led to his work with the Canadian Repertory Theater in Ottawa, Ontario. He gained recognition while performing on the Broadway stage, where he played many famous roles including Othello, King Lear, and Henry Drummond.
Plummer is known all over the world for his portrayal of the captain in The Sound of Music, and more recently for his Academy Award winning role from the 2010 film, Beginners. You may also recognize the actor’s voice from the classic children’s program Madeline, where he serves as the narrator.
Julie Andrews as Maria
Julie Andrews is one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actresses and she has only improved with age. Andrews was born in England but made a name for herself on Broadway in classic shows like My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Cinderella. She made her film debut in the unforgettable Mary Poppins and won an Academy Award for the part. More recently, Julie Andrews has starred alongside Anne Hathaway in Disney films, The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, and still lends her voice to animated features.
Julie Andrews was named a Dame by the Queen of England in 2000 and was listed as one of the 100 Greatest Britons. She is also the recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable career.
Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich von Trapp
Nicholas Hammond played the part of Friedrich in The Sound of Music film. He had the perfect personality for the role, but physically he came up a bit short. Producers put lifts in his shoes so that he would be taller than the other actors, especially than the actress who played Louisa.
In the end, puberty finally arrived and by the time the movie was finished shooting, Hammond had grown by several inches. Now it was the other actors who had to stand on boxes so that their height appeared consistent throughout the entire movie.
Heather Menzies as Louisa von Trapp
Heather Menzies, a young and inexperienced actress, was chosen to play the role of the third eldest von Trapp sibling in The Sound of Music. She was born in Canada, and Louisa von Trapp was her most famous acting role, along with her role as Jessica 6 on sci-fi series Logan’s Run.
In 1973, when she was 24, Menzies appeared in a Playboy spread entitled “Tender Trapp.” She was married for many years to prolific actor Robert Urich and the two had three children. Sadly, Heather Menzies passed away from brain cancer in 2017.
Duane Chase as Kurt von Trapp
Duane Dudley Chase was just 14 years old when he got the part of Kurt, the second von Trapp boy, in The Sound of Music. After the movie came out and he graduated from high school, Chase decided not to pursue acting and joined the United States Forestry Service in Santa Barbara, California. He attended UC Santa Barbara and graduated in 1976 with a B.S. in Geology, after which he enrolled in the University of Alabama and completed his master’s degree, also in geology.
He married a nurse by the name of Petra Maria, of German origin, and currently lives in Washington state and works as a software engineer who designs tools for geologists and geophysicists.
Angela Cartwright as Brigitta von Trapp
Angela Cartwright is an American actress who was born in England. She is one of the few von Trapp children who went on to have a successful acting career. Other than her portrayal of Brigitta von Trapp, she played Linda Williams, the stepdaughter, on The Danny Thomas Hour. Sadly, the show was cancelled when her TV father passed away suddenly from a heart attack. She went on to star in the cult sci-fi program Lost in Space, in the mid-sixties.
Today, Cartwright works as a professional photographer with over 30 years of experience and displays her work in her own gallery, in Studio City, LA. She has released several books about art in collaboration with fellow artist, Sarah Fishburn.
Debbie Turner as Marta von Trapp
Before she got the part of Marta von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Debbie Turner already had acting experience doing commercials and television shows with her siblings. After the release of the film, Debbie quit acting to focus on her education. As an adult she fostered an interest in interior design and eventually opened her own company, called “Debbie Turner Originals”, which specializes in event planning and floral decoration.
The company was given title of “Preferred Florist” for the 2008 Republican National Convention, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Although she decided not to pursue a career in the entertainment filed, Debbie is still in touch with her Sound of Music cast mates and has reunited with them for some TV appearances.
Kym Karath as Gretl von Trapp
Kym Karath played the youngest of the seven von Trapp children, Gretl, and who could forget her? She began acting at the incredible age of three and appeared in Spencer’s Mountain, The Thrill of It All, and Good Neighbor Sam. While talking with Ellen DeGeneres Julie Andrews said about Karath: “[The children] were all lovely.
However, the youngest one was probably the most difficult for me, because she was just a tad heavy in those days. Today, she is this amazing gorgeous looking Monroe-esque young lady.” Considering the source, that is a pretty amazing compliment.
Charmian Carr as Liesl von Trapp
Charmian Carr seemed like she was on the road to stardom after her bewitching portrayal of eldest daughter Liesl in The Sound of Music. Despite her good looks and obvious talent, the actress never managed to produce another hit. She had small parts in Take Her, She’s Mine, and Evening Primrose, a television musical written by the legendary Steven Sondheim.
Not long after, Carr decided to quit show-business and open her own interior design company in Encino, California. She looked back on the role of Liesl fondly and wrote two novels based on her knowledge of the character, titled Forever Liesl and Letters to Liesl. Sadly, Charmian Carr passed away in 2016 from complications of dementia at the age of 76.
Eleanor Parker As The Baroness von Schrader
Eleanor Parker was the Academy Award nominated actress who played the sophisticated yet cold Baroness von Schrader, Captain von Trapp’s devious fiancée in the film. Parker received Oscar nominations for her roles in the films Detective Story and Interrupted Melody, but her role in The Sound of Music is the one generations of fans cannot forget.
Eleanor Parker passed away in 2013 from complications of pneumonia, at a ripe 91 years old, just four days before NBC aired their live version of the musical. When he heard of her passing, Christopher Plummer, who played Captain von Trapp said, “I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.”
Breaking Up The Band
The von Trapp family had many years of success as a traveling singing troupe, but by 1955 they decided to disband. The children, who were now all grown up, wanted to pursue their own interests. Four of the von Trapp daughters went to New Guinea in 1956 to perform missionary work, with daughter Maria deciding to remain there as a missionary for the next 30 years.
Rupert von Trapp became a physician while Agathe von Trapp moved to Maryland and became a kindergarten teacher. Werner von Trapp became a farmer and Hedwig von Trapp worked as a music teacher. The other children married, settled down and had children of their own.
Thoughts About The Film
Now that we know the differences between fact and fiction, you may be wondering what the real von Trapps thought about the movie and musical inspired by their lives. Maria felt relieved that her story wasn’t too different, and she approved of the way her character was depicted. On the other hand, she didn’t like the ways in which Georg was presented and his character altered.
As for the children, they felt that their story was oversimplified and that they were depicted as “lightweight” musicians. Johannes von Trapp explained this in 1998 to The New York Times, “It’s not what my family was about… [We were] about good taste, culture, all these wonderful upper-class standards that people make fun of in movies like ‘Titanic.’ We’re about environmental sensitivity, artistic sensitivity. ‘The Sound of Music’ simplifies everything. I think perhaps reality is at the same time less glamorous, but more interesting that the myth.”
The New Version
The Sound of Music Live is an NBC television special starring the incredible Carrie Underwood in the role of Maria. The show was filmed live in Bethpage, New York in front of a studio audience. The latest version of The Sound of Music received mixed reviews, critics agreed that Carrie Underwood was a wonderful singer, but felt that she was too inexperienced as an actor.
Even the real von Trapps remarked on her lack of experience and stated that her portrayal of Maria seemed lifeless. Despite the reviews, the performance was a big success, bringing in 18.62 million viewers and leading NBC to decide to produce more live versions of musicals.
Carrie Underwood is known around the world as a hugely successful country music star, but her childhood was anything but grand. She grew up on a farm in the rural town of Checotah, Oklahoma, the daughter of a school teacher and a paper mill worker. The talented vocalist rose to fame after winning season four of American Idol and became one of the biggest selling artists in the show’s history.
Forbes magazine claims that Underwood is now worth $120 million dollars, $83 million of which she has earned just in the last year. Underwood was a nominee for Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards in 2016, but Ariana Grande took it home. The talented, successful and wealthy Carrie Underwood seems like a great fit for the role of Maria in the live stage version of The Sound of Music.
Maria Was Already Married
In reality, Baron von Trapp and Maria did not have the budding romance like they did on screen. Instead, the two of them had already been married for years and even had kids at the time, as well as another bun in the oven.
Of course the actual wedding was not particularly glamorous and was just a simple affair in Saltzburg in the year 1927.
There is a Family Lodge
When the von Trapps made their way to America, they managed to settle in Stowe, Vermont in 1942. After the death of Baron Georg von Trapp in 1947, the family created the Trapp Family Lodge. The lodge, which is also their home, is a 27 room ski lodge. The lodge was destroyed by a fire in December 1890.
In 1983 it reopened as a new Austrian – style lodge with 93 rooms and is actually still running today.
It Almost Went to The Producer’s Wife
Richard Halliday originally perceived the production as completely different. The Broadway producer who worked on the production initially thought the role of Maria would have been perfect for his Richard, Mary Martin.
Just as well it ultimately went to Julie Andrews, because she certainly made the role ever so memorable.
A Final Song
As Hammerstein died just nine months after the release of the film, so the last song he wrote happened to be the ever famous “Edelweiss”. This amazing song, which as you now know is actually not actually a traditional Austrian song, will forever be Sound of Music’s most iconic song.
The song was supposedly sang by Christopher Plummer, but more on that later.
A Broadway Flop
Before the 1965 film, it was a Broadway play. It opened for the first time at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959. The highly anticipated event was met with some serious disappointment, as most major New York critics hated it. According to many, it was far too sentimental and saccharine for their liking.
Unfortunately, the producers had already invested around $2 million in order to advance ticket sales. Looks like the film version had better luck.
It Was Almost Never Called The Sound of Music
Long before the play and film got the title The Sound of Music, it was actually going to be named something completely different. That’s right, according to Broadway.com, the classic story almost got the name, The Singing Heart.
The title that we all know and love certainly has a great ring to it.
Hammerstein’s Last Work
The legendary musical that was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein sadly turned out be the last time their last collaborative work. Just nine months after the first Broadway premiere, Hammerstein died of stomach cancer.
It would be amazing if Hammerstein saw him stage hit succeed as much as it did on screen.
Georg von Trapp Was a Sought After Role
The early 1960s was filled with amazingly dashing leading men. This made the casting process rather difficult, with the likes of Sean Connery, Richard Burton and Bing Crosby in the running to play Captain von Trapp.
In the end only one man could be Georg von Trapp. That man was Christopher Plummer. He sure did nail it. While many couldn’t be happier over this choice, some critics took issue with certain abilities, or lack there of.
Is Christopher Plummer Actually Singing?
In a 2012 NPR interview with Christopher Plummer, the actor actually admitted that it was not entirely him singing. He said that for the longer passages it was dubbed by singer Bill Lee. “It was very well done. The entrances and exits from the songs were my voice, and then they filled in – in those days, they were very fussy about matching voices in musicals. And Julie, of course, had been – you know, trained since day one”
The actor talked about how hard it was to match Julie Andrews. “Tone perfect since she was in her cradle, which is an exasperating thing to admit. And it was awfully hard to match her and her sustained, long notes.”
A Folk Song Classic
Songs from musicals are a specific genre. Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, there is no denying that they have that signature sound. The Sound of Music, being the classic musical that it is, is filled with them. Except for when it comes to one song, “Edelweiss”.
The song was actually initially written for the original Georg von Trapp in the Broadway version. Hammerstein, who cast the famous folk musician Theodore Bikel, felt that his talents were being underused. The song was meant to be a beautiful folk addition to the play that would make Bikel shine. It sure did!
Producers Preferred Grace Kelly
One cannot imagine Julie Andrews not being the fresh leading face of The Sound of Music. There was a point in time however when it was highly likely. According to Inside Edition Magazine, producers could not see Andrews in this type of role. Mary Poppins had not come out yet so they were not sure if she had that sort of star power to attract the audiences. Producers in fact almost cast Grace Kelly instead.
Author Tom Santopietro told INSIDE EDITION, “People were uncertain whether Julie Andrews would actually translate onto film because Mary Poppins hadn’t been released yet. For the role of Maria, they considered Grace Kelly and Doris Day.”
The Most Hated Sound of Music Tribute Ever
The 87th Academy Awards celebrated that 50th anniversary of The Sound Music. While many rejoiced at the occasion, others were horrified at the performance Lady Gaga put on. The starlet sang a tribute that simply horrified musical director master Stephen Sondheim.
Lady Gaga still gets criticism for that to this day, and that was in 2015! Move on people!
Many young starlets back then were in the running to play the role of Leisl. Just some of them included, Patti Duke, Mia Farrow, Sharon Tate and Geraldine Chaplin.
In the end it went to Charmian Carr. It was clear to see that when Carr stepped into the role, the choice was perfect. At least according to Plummer, who had a little thing for her.
An Unexpected TV Star
Kym Karath who played young Gretl went on to star in quite a few television hits. Karath played in shows such as The Brady Bunch, All My Children, and even in an episode of Lost In Space. Fellow Sound of Music co -star, Angela Cartwright even appeared in the same show later on.
Karath who at five years old auditioned with the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” felt very grown up doing that.
You Can Spot the Real Maria
In the film, during the scene where Andrews sings, “I Have Confidence”, you can see the real Maria step on to do a cameo appearance. Maria walks past a stone archway during the song, making it a really heartfelt moment.
Sadly that was the only input Maria really had in the film. Aside from not drastically changing her life story, they didn’t even have a seat for her at the premier of the film.
The producers initially had a different director in mind before they went with Robert Wise. In fact, a director named William Wyler actually already began working on it but quit to work on other projects. Rumor had it that this director had a much darker vision for the film and wanted to focus more on the war story.
Ultimately the execs were happier with Wise, who, as the master of musicals at the time, gave it a much sunnier spin. Another issues is that Wyler was a little deaf. That might be less helpful when directing a musical. Well, any type of film for that matter.
Julie Andrews Was Considered “Too Gentle”
The real Maria von Trapp had some real issues with Julie Andrew. Maria, who was a rather burly and strong Austrian woman, felt that Julie Andrews was too sweet and soft, saying that her and the rest of the female cast were too “too gentle-like girls out of Bryn Mawr.”
Bryn Mawr is an elite Liberal Art college in Pennsylvania. It must have been a reference to the refined and delicate women who came out of a college like that. Ouch!
A Big Winner
The Sound of Music was certainly the film of 1965. It took home a series of Oscars, all in all, five. The film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Music (scoring, adaptation or treatment).
The film also nominated Julie Andrews for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Peggy Wood for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Ted D. McCord for Best Cinematography, Boris Leven,Walter M. S and Ruby R. Levitt for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Dorothy Jeakins for Best Costume Design, Color.
The film is one of the highest grossing films ever made. Some close ones are Gone With the Wind and Star Wars. It grossed about $163,214,076 domestically, and a total worldwide gross of $286,214,076. All in all, taking into account inflation, the film earned about $2.366 billion “placing it among the top ten highest-grossing films of all time.”
Considering that at the time, the film cost 8.2 million USD, 65 000 000 dollars today, that is a huge feat.
For a 2006 Sound of Music revival headed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, actress Scarlett Johansson was seriously in the running to be Maria. Imagine that!
Ultimately the plan fell through and Webber found his star through the hit reality show, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?