Sound of Music

I am honored to have played a part in telling the von Trapp family's story on screen, and I cherish my memories of those days when we were working on the movie in Salzburg and Los Angeles.
Filming in Salzburg, Austria, was like being in a fairy tale. To me, this spectacular locale was one of the "stars" of the film, adding depth and beauty to the story we were telling. Here, in downtown Salzburg, Julie and I rehearse one of the three scenes ultimately cut from the final film. "Liesl" bumps into "Rolf" in the city and introduces him to her new governess, "Fraulein Maria".
Over the years, many of us who got to know each other while making the movie have stayed in touch. I consider the six other actors who portrayed the von Trapp children to be my second family. Here we are in Los Angeles in 1964. From left to right:
  • Duane (Kurt)
  • Debbie (Marta)
  • me
  • Angela (Brigitta)
  • Nicky (Friedrich) with his arm around Kym (Gretl)
  • Heather (Louisa).
Though it isn't often our busy schedules allow us to get together these days, it's always tremendous fun when we can. This is one of our more recent reunions in Los Angeles.

back row

  • Heather
  • me
  • Duane

front row

  • Kym
  • director Bob Wise
  • Angela and Debbie
Nicholas Hammond, who played my little brother Friedrich on screen, is like a real brother to me. Although Nicky moved to Australia over a decade ago, we still see each other whenever we get a chance. Here we are in Australia in the spring of 1998. We were able to get together just this past month when he was in Los Angeles on business.

Drop of Golden Sun

Rachel Shiery, the five year old 'drop of golden sun', whose photo appears on the title page of the chapter "Thunderstorms" in Letters to Liesl, and to whom I dedicated the book (along with my daughters and granddaughter), died in July of 2001 after a long battle with brain cancer. This little girl was a remarkable human being. Both Jean and I were touched by her incredible spirit and the way in which she embraced life, and were honored to know her. The last time we saw her was when she and her family came as my guests to the premiere of Singalong Sound of Music in San Francisco. As the audience of 1500 sang "Do Re Mi" along with the film that night it reminded me of the moment a few months earlier when I had held Rachel in my arms on a stage in Sonoma, California and she sang the song along with 200 cast members. It was a moment of pure joy on both occasions.

In many ways, Rachel represents how children ARE the sound of music, and also the way in which music can bring joy to those coping with the most difficult of circumstances. I have thought about the power of "The Sound of Music" often in these days following the World Trade Center/Pentagon tragedy. I have heard from many people who are finding solace in the music, in the film, and in each other.

Like those who lost their lives in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, Rachel Shiery stands as a reminder that life can be short - but she also reminds us that, whatever it's length, life should be lived with joy and laughter and song...

Frequently Asked Questions

What were the adult actors like?

I go into this in detail in "Forever Liesl", but suffice it to say, they were consummate pros, and it was an honor to work with each one of them, from Julie to Christopher, and Peggy Wood to Richard Haydn. When we weren't working, I got to know Chris Plummer the best, and he was tremendous fun.

Did Nicholas Hammond portray "Spiderman"?

Yes, that's him in those tights - and both my daughters had crushes on him when they were growing up...

Was there another film about the von Trapp family before "The Sound of Music"?

Yes, there was, although I've never seen it. "Die Trapp Family" was made in the mid 50's, and was the most successful film in West Germany during that decade. There was also a sequel that was made. I talk about these films in "Forever Liesl" in the chapter called 'The Ambassador'.

What happened to Rolf?

"Rolf" was portrayed by Dan Truhitte, and he kept on singing and dancing! There's an entire chapter on Dan in my book which tells what he's been doing in the years since we made "Music" together.

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