All the Things We Never Knew About “The Sound of Music”

“The Sound of Music,” released on March 2, 1965, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and loved movies of the 20th century – maybe even of all time. Produced and directed by Robert Wise, the legendary musical, as well as some of the individual actors, won multiple accolades, including Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. The movie went to number one at the box office and even held the title of the highest-grossing film of all time for a total of five years, beating “Gone with the Wind.”

Julie Andrews backstage on the Sound of Music. / Christopher Plummer blowing the whistle while Julie Andrews looks up. / Julie Andrews holding her palms together in front of her face in the Sound of Music.

Source: 20th Century Fox / Kobal /

Although many of the movie’s fans will know intricate details about the Von Trapp family’s time in Austria and emigration to the United States, there was plenty happening behind the scenes and off-screen that were not publicized. Read on to find out everything you never knew about this blockbuster movie that is based on Maria von Trapp’s 1949 memoir titled “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.”

A Fairy Tale or a Loveless Marriage?

Anyone familiar with this classic musical movie will remember how the nun in training, Maria – who was played by Julie Andrews – fell in love with the widowed Captain von Trapp while she was working as a governess for the children in the family. The relationship blossoms throughout the film, ending in a seemingly blissful marriage and a happy, loving family.

Baroness Maria Von Trapp The Inspiration For The Film 'The Sound Of Music.'

Photo by Associated Newspapers /Shutterstock

However, the real Maria, who Julie Andrews’ character was based on, clearly felt differently, as revealed in her 1949 memoir: “I really and truly was not in love. I liked him, but I didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, and so in a way, I really married the children. I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.”

The Fabrication of Liesl

In the movie, Liesl, who is the eldest daughter in the von Trapp family, falls in love with a German soldier who later tries to expose the entire family. However, this is not accurate at all when compared with the real story – mainly because the eldest von Trapp child was actually a boy named Rupert!

Rupert Georg von Trapp and Charmian Carr side by side

On the left Rupert von Trapp, on the right Charmian Carr, who played Liesl in the movie “The Sound of Music.” Source: / Photo by Davidson & Choy Publicity

Both the character of Liesl and her storyline were invented by the writers, who believed it would add more depth to the movie. By the time “The Sound of Music” was released, Rupert was 54 and living in Vermont. He worked as a physician and would often tell his patients that he was “the real Liesl,” but no one actually believed him.

Father-Daughter On Screen, Crush Off-Screen

Despite playing father and daughter in the movie, Christopher Plummer, who played Captain von Trapp, and Charmian Carr, who played Liesl, allegedly had a love affair off-set despite the 25-year age gap between them. And Plummer was married at the time. Unsurprisingly, this revelation attracted a lot of attention from both the media and fans of the movie, but the two were never seen being affectionate in public.

Christopher Plummer and Charmian Carr from


However, in an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show years later, Carr joined Julie Andrews and the seven actors that played the children and revealed the feelings she’d had as a 21-year-old girl. “I had a huge crush on him,” she said. “He was so perfect, and he spoke with this perfect British accent.” She denied the relationship ever became physical, though.

Hit with a Big Valentine’s Day Card

Despite the emotions and relationships conveyed on screen, in reality, some actors did not particularly like each other. Perhaps surprisingly, this was the case for Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews, Captain von Trapp, and Maria. Andrews was well-liked on set and described as an “angel” by many of her co-stars, but Plummer, unfortunately, did not share this opinion.

Christopher Plummer, Julie Andrews

Photo by 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

Apparently, he was annoyed by how nice and gentle she was, likening working alongside her to “getting hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.” He made little attempt to hide his ill feelings toward Andrews when filming first commenced – and he was even negative about the movie itself, referring to it as “The Sound of Mucus” and “S&M.”

Not Everyone Could Dance

Charmian Carr’s portrayal of Liesl, an undeniable favorite with fans of the movie, was beautiful and graceful on screen. There were multiple scenes in which she was required to dance, and one would be forgiven for thinking that she was naturally talented in this area. Apparently, however, that was not the case, and her dancing skills were very limited.

Charmian Carr, with Daniel Truhitte, in the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” number from the 1965 film “The Sound of Music.”

Photo by 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection

According to numerous reports, she even almost broke her ankle during the memorable “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” dance scene. Therefore, in the movie, there was a clearly visible bandage wrapped around her ankle during the scene. However, it wasn’t present for the 2005 remake of the movie. When questioned, Carr explained what happened, but many people couldn’t believe that she had really suffered an injury during such a basic dance number.

Fleeing the Regime Differently

By today’s standards, the von Trapp family were refugees during World War II. In the movie, they fled the regime, leaving their home in Austria and traveled to Switzerland via the Alps on foot. Later, they made their way to the United States, where they worked and earned a living as a traveling singing company. However, this is a far cry from the real story of the von Trapp family’s escape.

Trapp Family, 1939

Trapp Family, 1939. The Von Trapp Family Singers. Top Row: Werner, Rupert; Second Row: Franz Wasner, Johanna, Maria, Johannes, Georg, Hedwig, Maria Franziska; Front Row: Agatha, Rosmarie And Eleonore. Photograph By Edward Lynch, 1939. Photo by Granger/Shutterstock

The reality of the situation was revealed by daughter Maria in a 2003 interview for Opera News: “We did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing.” Moreover, they actually traveled to Italy first, not Switzerland. This is because Georg von Trapp, who was born in Zadar – a city that became part of Italy in 1920 – was an Italian citizen; therefore, so were his wife and children.

Shunned from the Premiere

Despite being alive and well at the time, the real Maria von Trapp was not allowed to go to the premiere of the movie. Although the storyline is based on the 1949 memoir titled “The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers,” who also appeared as an extra with her daughter Rosemarie, the film producers and executives did not see her as fit to attend.


Photo by Peter Brooker/Shutterstock

Maria had been invited to the premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical, so when no similar invitation arrived from “The Sound of Music,” she took it up with the producers. However, instead of apologizing for the oversight, they told Maria that there were no seats left – instead, they filled the spare seats with famous people, and she was shunned.

The Movie Versus Reality

In the movie, Maria is portrayed to be an angel who had come to save the children from a military life under the regime. Conversely, Captain von Trapp is shown to be a strict, stern man who called his children by whistling, then lined them up to attention. It seemed as though Captain von Trapp was the firm head of the family, with Maria slotting in accordingly.

Maria Von Trapp

Photo by Everett Collection/Shutterstock

In real life, however, it was actually Maria who was the head of the family. She took charge of the finances and other family matters, while Georg von Trapp supported her unwaveringly. Moreover, Georg was really a gentle, warm-hearted parent who enjoyed musical activities with his family. His character in the film might have made for a better storyline, as it emphasized Maria’s healing effect on the family in the movie, but it was said to have distressed his real-life family.

An On-Set Drinking Culture

While Christopher Plummer’s performance in “The Sound of Music” was extremely professional, it has been revealed since that he may have had a problem with alcohol. Even though he was constantly around children while on set, Plummer admitted that he was drunk most of the time, specifically mentioning the filming of the music festival scene.

Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, on-set of the Film, 'The Sound of Music,' 1965

Photo by Glasshouse Images/Shutterstock

Charmian Carr, who played Liesl, also confirmed this, revealing in the interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that he loved a drink and would often take her to Austrian bars during filming, despite the large age gap between the two. When asked by Winfrey if she learned anything from Plummer, Carr replied: “Yes, I learned how to drink.” Furthermore, the heavy drinking apparently caused Plummer to put on weight, resulting in his Captain von Trapp costume becoming too small.

The American Austrian Folk Song

One of the most memorable songs from “The Sound of Music” is “Edelweiss,” which was used by Captain von Trapp to show his patriotism for Austria and his hatred of Hitler and the regime. Interestingly, however, the song isn’t an Austrian folk tune, as everyone assumed it was. In reality, the song was written specifically for the Broadway musical by Rogers and Hammerstein.

Christopher Plummer in the Sound of Music 1965.

Photo by 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

Apparently, through the song, they were trying to express the feeling of loss surrounding Captain von Trapp having to leave Austria because of the Germans. However, they did such a good job that it has even been mistaken for the Austrian national anthem. In fact, in 1984, Ronald Reagan played it to honor Austrian President Rudolf Kirchschläger and his wife!

Hammond Beats “Jaws” Star to Get Role

Actor Richard Dreyfuss is well known for his performance in the 1975 horror classic “Jaws.” Still, many people are unaware that he was almost a cast member on “The Sound of Music.” He revealed this fact in an interview, saying that he was considered for and had even auditioned for the role of Freidrich, one of the von Trapp children.

Richard Dreyfuss

Source: YouTube

Apparently, the directors of “The Sound of Music” were extremely impressed by Dreyfuss’s acting skills, but he didn’t make the final cut due to his inability to dance. Unfortunately for him, that was a deal-breaker. Instead, the role went to American-Australian actor Nicholas Hammond, who I think we can all agree ended up being perfect for the part.

Casting Directors Change Their Minds

During the 1950s and 1960s, American actress and singer Doris Day was at the peak of her box office success. Alongside with Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Jones, and Anne Bancroft, she was considered for the role of Maria von Trapp. Meanwhile, for the role of Captain von Trapp, Yul Bunner, and Sean Connery – the latter being best known for playing James Bond – were the top candidates.

Doris Day Holding Rose, Studio Portrait, 1968

Photo by Glasshouse Images/Shutterstock

“The Sound of Music” casting directors had their minds set on Day and Connery to play the two leading roles of Maria and Georg, but soon changed their minds to Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, who just seemed to fit the roles perfectly. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine any other actors playing these parts – the directors definitely made the right decision.

A Blockbuster Movie Everywhere – Except Austria

Although “The Sound of Music” was a huge success in the United States, as well as the rest of the world, it’s interesting to note that it was extremely unpopular with many Austrians. In fact, when it was released in 1965, the movie was only in Austrian theatres for three weeks! Furthermore, it wasn’t shown on television there until 2000.

The Sound Of Music

Photo by Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock

According to many Austrians, the film reinforces certain stereotypes that they would rather distance themselves from. The best example of this is the suggestion that Austrians had been German collaborators; additionally, the portrayal of all the men in lederhosen and the women in dirndls was unpopular. As a result, most have not even seen the movie, preferring instead the German-language film “Die Trapp-Familie,” which was the original inspiration for the musical.

Criticism Meant Risking Your Job

As we know, “The Sound of Music” was a huge success outside of Austria and Germany, and there were many diehard fans around the world. They turned on Pauline Kael, a writer for McCall’s magazine after she gave her honest opinion about the movie – which wasn’t positive. She referred to it as “a popcorn flick,” which didn’t go down well with fans at all.

McCall's Magazine March 1965 at Wolfgang's


Kael also stated that 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?”. The backlash was so intense she was forced out of her job. She went on to work at The New Yorker, where she was free to voice her opinion as she pleased.

The Intriguing Life of the Real Maria

The real Maria von Trapp has a very intriguing life story. She was born in Vienna but orphaned as a young child, then placed in the care of a violent uncle, who tried to force his strong atheist beliefs on Maria. However, she was drawn to the Catholic Church after attending a Sunday service accidentally, believing it to be a concert of Bach music.

First Night of Ôthe Sound of Music' at the Apollo Victoria Theatre Jason Pollock and Maria Von Trapp

Photo by Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

She later recalled in her biography: “Now, I had heard from my uncle that all of these Bible stories were inventions and old legends and that there wasn’t a word of truth in them. But the way this man talked just swept me off my feet. I was completely overwhelmed.” After graduating from college, Maria entered the Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg.

The Role that Would Change Her Life

Maria met the von Trapp family when Georg approached the head of the convent to ask for a private governess for one of his daughters – also named Maria – who was ill with scarlet fever at the time. She was chosen due to her education and skill as a teacher, and she went to live with the family. Little did she know back then that it would change her life forever.

Trapp Family, 1940. Maria Von Trapp (Center) With Five Of Her Daughters. Front Row: Maria Franziska And Martina; Back Row: Agatha, Hedwig, Johanna. Photograph By C.M. Stieglitz, 1940.

Photo by Granger/Shutterstock

In the movie, there were seven von Trapp children, but in reality, there were ten. Maria wasn’t responsible for them all, however – as the movie suggests – but soon became attached to each of them. She particularly enjoyed singing with them and partaking in outdoor activities. It seemed as though, after a turbulent early life, she had finally found a family and a place to belong.

A Stepmother Rather than a Wife

In the movie, Maria and Georg fall in love fairly quickly, but this was not the case in real life. According to Maria, she wasn’t attracted to Georg; instead, she only felt strong emotions toward the children. Georg, on the other hand, fell in love with Maria and asked her to stay with him and become a stepmother to his children.

on the left film version of Maria's Gown on the right The Real von Trapp Wedding on the right


In her biography, Maria said: “God must have made him word it that way because if he had only asked me to marry him, I might not have said yes.” However, it still wasn’t an easy decision for her to make – she agreed only after being coaxed by the nuns in her old convent that it was “God’s will.” Maria and Georg married in 1927.

Giving Her Story to the World

Maria decided to document her fascinating story in a memoir titled “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” – and thank goodness she did, otherwise “The Sound of Music” would never have been made. Most of the world would be oblivious to the family’s existence. The book was published in 1949 by the J.B. Lippincott Company in Pennsylvania, and the rights were sold to German producers.

A book on the Trapp family


At the time of publication, Maria didn’t realize that she had signed away the rights to her own life story and that she would not receive any of the profits made by either the musical or the film. The American rights were subsequently purchased from the German producers. In the end, the von Trapp family had very little input in either the play or the movie.

A Life of Music

The movie portrayed Maria to be the person who discovered the children’s musical ability, encouraging them to channel their energy into music. However, in reality, the von Trapp children were already talented singers and musicians when Maria met them. However, this was a hobby, not an occupation, and Georg von Trapp wanted to keep it that way.

The Von Trapp family

Source: Pinterest

Eleonore von Trapp, one of the children, recalled her father’s unwillingness for his children to appear on stage to The Washington Post in 1978: “He 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.” However, he likely changed his mind when they won first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

The movie depicted the characters of Maria and Georg von Trapp as different from what they were like in real life. Firstly, Georg is portrayed to be a hard, cold man with little affection toward his children. This upset his family, who claimed that he was a loving, gentle, and kind father who always took an interest in all his children and their endeavors.

Georg von Trapp was previously the commander of Austrian submarine U5. He is pictured with his fiancée Agathe Whitehead


Maria, on the other hand, is presented as angelic; according to the family’s accounts; however, this was not always the case. One of her stepdaughters, Maria, revealed all in a 2003 interview, stating: “She 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.” Apparently, she would shout, throw things, and slam doors when in one of her rages.

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

In the 1930s, after Maria and Georg got married, the von Trapp family lost most of its wealth as a result of the worldwide depression. Suddenly, they were scraping the bottom of the barrel just to survive, and it was Maria that sprung to action and took charge of making changes to ease the financial burden.

First Night of Ôthe Sound of Music' at the Apollo Victoria Theatre Maria Von Trapp

Photo by Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

Firstly, she dismissed most of the servants that worked in the house and took in lodgers for extra money, as well as tightening the purse strings in general. It was Maria that took charge of the family’s finances, not Georg. It was around this time that the family considered turning their singing hobby into an actual profession to generate some income.

Opposing the Regime

In 1938, the regime came to Austria. During this time, the von Trapp family’s popularity was increasing, and they were becoming renowned for their performing ability. It wasn’t long before they were invited to sing at Hitler’s birthday party. However, the von Trapps were firm opponents of the regime – even refusing to show the flag on their property, which could have had serious consequences.

Von Trapps in Vermont

Source: CNN

Therefore, they refused the offer – but they were aware that this was likely to put them in a disadvantageous position. They were already paranoid about the increasing stronghold of a regime they hated, the presence of German spies in the area, and the unavoidable propaganda that was aimed at turning children against their parents – and this feeling began to increase.

Tempting Offers in Return for Compliance

Due to their rising national fame, the Germans knew of the von Trapp family and wanted them to stay in Austria and support the regime by helping to spread propaganda. In return, the family was promised increased fame and fortune. Also, Georg was offered a chance to re-join the navy, and Rupert, the eldest von Trapp child, was offered a job as a medical doctor.

The Von Trapps singing

Source: Pinterest

Despite these offers being extremely appealing, especially given the family’s recent financial difficulties, the von Trapps still refused to cooperate with the regime and decided that they needed to leave Austria. While the movie saw them clambering over the Alps into Switzerland with all of their belongings, ready to make a new life for themselves, the true story went very differently.

The Real Escape Story

The real von Trapp family, along with their secretary, Martha Zochbauer, and musical conductor, Rev. Franz Wasner, left Austria by train – and they went to Italy first, not Switzerland. Afterward, they went to London and, from there, boarded a ship to New York. They had already been scheduled to tour in Pennsylvania, so this didn’t raise any suspicions from either the Germans or the Americans.

von Trapp Family, 1947, Vermont, U.S.A

Photo by Courtesy of von Trapp family

Daughter Maria von Trapp confirmed this in an interview for Opera News in 2003, saying: “We did tell people we were going to America to sing.” Had the von Trapp family not already had success in the musical world, their departure from Austria and the regime may not have been so straightforward – or even possible.

Touring in the United States

The von Trapps entered the United States on six-month visitor visas. Once the visas expired, the family traveled back to Europe and embarked on a Scandinavian tour, which avoided the Germans. However, upon their return to the United States, they got held at Ellis Island, New York, for a few days for investigation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

von Trapp Family, 1947

Photo by Courtesy of von Trapp family

Apparently, when they arrived at Ellis Island, US officials asked the family how long they expected to stay in the country this time. The answer should have been “six months,” but, instead, Maria replied: “Oh, I am so glad to be here – I never want to leave again!” After a few days of investigation, the issue was resolved, and the von Trapps were allowed to enter the country to begin their next tour.

The Road to Becoming True Americans

In the early 1940s, when they were not on tour, the von Trapp family settled on a farm in Stowe, Vermont. It was now time to apply for citizenship, which Maria, along with stepdaughters Johanna, Martina, Maria, Hedwig, and Agathe, did in 1944. Rosemarie and Eleonore, who were Maria’s own daughters, acquired citizenship through their mother, and Rupert and Werner von Trapp joined the United States Armed Forces and, therefore, became naturalized citizens.

Citizenship application for Maira von Trapp

Source: Wikipedia

As Johannes was born in the United States and, therefore, was automatically a citizen, it was only Georg von Trapp that did not apply for citizenship. He died in 1947 and was buried in the family cemetery on the family farm, just a year before the rest of his family’s citizenship applications were approved. There was now no need for any of them to have to worry about going back to Austria.

Playing Georg von Trapp

Christopher Plummer, who played Captain Georg von Trapp in the movie, was a Canadian native. In fact, he is considered to be one of the most renowned Canadian actors of all time, with his achievements highlighted by the Canadian Repertory Company in Ottowa, Ontario. He first rose to fame as a result of playing Othello, King Lear, and Henry Drummond on Broadway.

Christopher Plummer now and then


It is, however, the award-winning “The Sound of Music” that made him a household name at the time – as well as his role in “Beginners,” which earned him an Academy Award. Although, as previously mentioned, Sean Connery was initially considered for the role of Georg von Trapp, there’s no doubt that Plummer was the perfect man to play the part.

Playing Maria von Trapp

Julie Andrews is, undoubtedly, one of the most famous actresses of all time. Before she was a well-known name in Hollywood, she starred in Broadway classics such as “My Fair Lady,” “Cinderella,” and “Camelot.” The Queen of England made her a Dame, and she is currently listed as one of the 100 Greatest Britons. Additionally, she received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Julia Andrews now and then


Although Maria in “The Sound of Music” is among her biggest roles, arguably, it is not the biggest, as she also went on to take the lead role in “Mary Poppins.” In fact, the actors that played the von Trapp children claim that, during breaks from filming, Julie Andrews would sing the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to them to keep them entertained. As “Mary Poppins” hadn’t yet been released, the children assumed she had made up the song for them!

Playing Freidrich von Trapp

In “The Sound of Music,” the 14-year-old character of Freidrich, the eldest von Trapp son, was played by actor Nicholas Hammond. While his personality and acting skills fit the part perfectly, he was, unfortunately, a little shorter than the producers would have liked. As a result, he would often have to wear heeled shoes or stand on boxes during filming to appear taller than the other characters – especially his sister, Louisa.

Nicholas Hammond now and then


However, as with many young boys of his age, Hammond experienced a growth spurt, which occurred during the filming of “The Sound of Music.” Now, it was the other actors who were forced to stand on boxes to keep the heights consistent throughout the movie! Currently, at almost 5 foot 10 inches, his days of being “too short” are definitely over.

Playing Louisa von Trapp

At age 13, Canadian-born actress Heather Menzies was cast to play the role of Louisa von Trapp, the third eldest of the von Trapp children after Liesl and Freidrich. Although this was arguably Menzies’ biggest role in her acting career, she also played the part of Jessica 6 in the American science fiction television series Logan’s Run, which enjoyed a fair amount of success.

Heather Menzies now and then


In 1973, now at age 24, Menzies modeled for Playboy in a piece titled “Tender Trapp” – apparently in an attempt to shake the “squeaky-clean” image that had surrounded her since her role in “The Sound of Music.” She also starred in two low-budget, tongue-in-cheek horror films: Sssssss (1973) and Piranha (1978). With the storylines centering around killer snakes and carnivorous fish, respectively, they were the complete opposite of “The Sound of Music.”

Playing Kurt von Trapp

Kurt von Trapp, the second-oldest boy in the von Trapp Family, was played by 14-year-old Duane Dudley Chase. However, after the movie’s huge international success, Chase joined the United States Forest Service in Santa Barbara, California, instead of advancing his acting career. He then went on to graduate high school and continue his education at university.

Duane Dudley Chase now and then


In 1987, he had graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of California and obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Alabama. In 1987, he moved to Seattle, where he currently still resides and marries a German nurse named Petra Maria. Today, he designs computer software for geophysicists and geologists – a far cry from “The Sound of Music.”

Playing Brigitta von Trapp

It an English-born American actress named Angela Cartwright who played Brigitta von Trapp. “The Sound of Music” was the start of a successful acting career for Cartwright, who was then cast in the 1950s on “The Danny Thomas Show” as a character named Linda Williams. Tragedy struck, however, when the man who played her stepfather on the show died of a heart attack, and the show was consequently canceled.

Angela Cartwright then and now

Source Pinterest / Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Cartwright is a woman of multiple talents, however, and has been in the photography business for more than 30 years. She owns and operates a gallery Studio City, Los Angeles, where her work has been displayed. Also, she has written several books that have been published and releases an art magazine with Sarah Fishburn bi-annually.

Playing Marta von Trapp

Debbie Turner, who played Marta von Trapp, was no stranger to being on the screen when she started filming “The Sound of Music.” As a child, she had already featured in various commercials alongside her siblings, and she slotted in perfectly to the movie scene. After “The Sound of Music” was released, she took a break from acting to focus on her studies.

Debbie Turner Then and now

Source: Pinterest

Later in life, Turner got into interior design and started her own floral and event design company called “Debbie Turner Originals.” The 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul Minnesota awarded her the “Preferred Florist” title as an acknowledgment of the company’s success. Although she officially retired from acting years ago, she is still in contact with her “The Sound of Music” co-stars and makes a few occasional television appearances.

Playing Gretl von Trapp

The seventh and youngest of the movie’s von Trapp children was played by Kym Karath. Before “The Sound of Music,” at just three years old, she began acting in works such as “Spencer’s Mountain,” “The Thrill of It All,” and “Good Neighbor Sam.” There’s no doubt, though, that she is best known for her role as Gretl von Trapp.

Kym Karath then and now


Julie Andrews, reminiscing about her days with the children filming “The Sound of Music” while on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, stated: “[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.”

Playing Liesl von Trapp

American actress Charmian Carr played the eldest von Trapp child, Liesl, when she was 21 years old. According to many fans, her most memorable part in “The Sound of Music” was her performance in the much-loved song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” After trying her hand at singing after the release of the movie, she decided on interior design and founded a company in Encino, California.

Charmian Carr then and now

Source: Pinterest

However, her love for Liesl and the whole experience filming “The Sound of Music” was evident, as she wrote two books named “Forever Liesl” and “Letters to Liesl.” She also publicly embraced the popularity of the musical, frequently appearing at fan events commemorating the film. This even includes sing-along performances at the Hollywood Bowl, where she famously said that people should consider singing the musical’s songs as “like going to a therapist.”

Playing Baroness Elsa von Schrader

Baroness Elsa von Schrader, Captain Georg von Trapp’s female friend who lost out on becoming his fiancée to Maria, was played by American actress Eleanor Parker. She had previously received Oscar nominations for her parts in the movies “Caged,” “Detective Story,” and “Uninterrupted Melody.” Still, her role in “The Sound of Music” was, by far, her most popular.

Eleanor Parker then and now


In 2013, at age 91, Eleanor Parker died from pneumonia. Sadly, this was only four days before the live version of “The Sound of Music” was aired on NBC. Regarding her death, Christopher Plummer, who acted alongside her as Georg, shared the following kind words: “I hardly believe the sad news, for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.”

The Group Members Go Separate Ways

After settling in the United States and experiencing success as a touring singing group, the real von Trapp children wanted to explore different things and pursue other endeavors. After all, the group had been held in place for so long, mainly by Maria’s unwavering iron will. So, by 1955, they officially split up. Then, the von Trapp children certainly branched out.

Members of the Trapp Family Singers, 1944, New York

Photo by Courtesy of von Trapp family

Rupert became a doctor, Maria did missionary work in New Guinea for 30 years, Werner was a farmer, Agathe was a kindergarten teacher, Johanna married and returned to Austria, Hedwig was a music teacher, Rosemarie and Eleonore both settled close to the family farm in Vermont, Martina married and died in childbirth, and Johannes managed the family farm – known as The Trapp Family Lodge. Maria died in 1987 and was buried in the family cemetery alongside Georg and Martina.

Dissatisfaction from the von Trapps

So, what exactly did the von Trapp family think about “The Sound of Music” – both the musical and the film? After all, it brought the family international fame and documented their lives forever. Unfortunately, they weren’t completely happy with it, as they felt the story had been simplified, their talents downplayed, and Georg’s character portrayed incorrectly. Maria was happy with how she was portrayed – as well as the fact the plot did not stray too far from her biography – but also agreed with the children.

Maria von Trapp in 2008 at the age of 93. The daughter of Austrian Baron Georg von Trapp points to her father on an old family picture.


In 1998, Johannes von Trapp voiced his feelings 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 than the myth.”

The Sound of Music Live!

On December 5, 2013, NBC aired a new version of the musical, named “The Sound of Music Live!” The producers employed a famous face to play the iconic role of Maria: American singer and songwriter Carrie Underwood. Filmed live in front of a studio audience in Bethpage, New York, it was met with mixed reviews. Most people praised Underwood’s vocal abilities but criticized her acting skills.

The cast of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood


The real von Trapp family shared the same sentiments, labeling her performance “lifeless.” They even suggested that actress Anne Hathaway would have been a better choice for the character of Maria. However, the musical still attracted a lot of attention – it was seen by a huge 18.62 million viewers, which encouraged NCB to air more live adaptations of other musicals.

Carrie Undertaking a Huge Role

Despite having humble beginnings in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Carrie Underwood became one of the world’s biggest American country music singers after winning season four of the hit TV show “American Idol.” According to Forbes, she is currently worth a staggering US$120 million. She was recently nominated as Artist of the Year by the American Music Awards but lost to Ariana Grande.

Carrie Underwood - Favorite Album - Country - 'Cry Pretty'

Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Her powerful voice and incredible stage presence – as well as her popularity across the United States and other parts of the world – earned her the role of Maria in “The Sound of Music Live!” Although the reviews were not as positive as she would have hoped for, it certainly took some courage for her to take on such an iconic movie role – as well as to follow Julie Andrews’ outstanding performance in the original.