32 Facts About Sound of Music That Will Bring the Hills to Life

Mathew Burke

“The hills are alive . . . with the sound of music.” The Sound of Music is an undeniably classic musical that debuted in 1965. With music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, the film tracks the adventures of Maria, a nun played by Julie Andrews, who takes a job as a governess for a large family in Austria and falls in love with the widowed patriarch, played by Christopher Plummer. What do you really know about The Sound of Music? Enjoy the a

32. All in the family

Charmian Carr, the 21-year-old actress who played Liesl, revealed in her autobiography that she had a crush on married 35-year-old Christopher Plummer, who played her father, Captain von Trapp. Plummer admitted that he returned the feelings, and says the pair did nothing but flirt.

31. A song before its time

Julie Andrews sang “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to her juvenile costars in the movie. Because Mary Poppins had yet to be released at the time of filming, the kids assumed the actress had made the song up just for them.

30. Video of the years

When The Sound of Music was released to the home video market, it enjoyed a second life of adoration. The video stayed on the charts for almost five years.

29. Every morning you greet me

The beloved song Edelweiss was the last song Oscar Hammerstein wrote before his death in 1960.

28. Hiking to Hitler’s

If the von Trapps had hiked over the mountains, as the movie depicts in their closing shots, they would have ended up in Germany, near Adolf Hitler’s mountain retreat. Clearly, that was not the destination they intended.

27. Paternal endurance

Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp) was no fan of the Sound of Music experience which he referred to as S&M. He compared working with Julie Andrews to “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card every day” and reportedly indulged so much in food and drink to mask his distress that his costumes had to be refitted.

26. Keeping the smile

The actress who played little Marta (Debbie Turner) lost several teeth over the course of the filming. Whenever she did, they were replaced with false teeth.

The Sound of Music factsKristina Dimovska | Factinate

25. Lost in translation

In Hong Kong, The Sound of Music was titled Fairy Music Blow Fragrant Place, Place Hear. In literal-minded Argentina, it was known as The Rebellious Novice, and in West Germany, it was released with the title My Song, My Dream.

24. Colourful recognition

The Sound of Music won the best picture Oscar in 1966. The broadcast of that show was remarkable for being the first time the Academy Awards was shot in colour.

23. Tripping Andrews up

The trip Maria suffers when she’s running across the courtyard to the Von Trapp domicile was not written into the script. The director chose to keep it because he felt the misstep added to the character’s nervousness for the scene.

22. A kinder pop

The real-life father of the von Trapp clan was not, in fact, as hard-nosed as Christopher Plummer plays him in the movie. In fact, Maria von Trapp allegedly met with director Robert Wise to discuss softening his sharp edges. Wise refused to budge.

21. Stringing her along

Julie Andrews didn’t know how to play the guitar before The Sound of Music. She learned specifically for the film.

20. First and last

The first musical number filmed for the movie was “Favorite Things.” One of the last scenes filmed was the “You are Sixteen” number.

19. Tragic entertainment

Years ago, BBC reportedly selected The Sound of Music among the films it would broadcast for British citizens in the event of a nuclear strike. Its gentle, joyful story was considered a good antidote for the sinking morale of survivors.

18. The real story

The real-life relationship between Maria and Georg von Trapp was not nearly as romantic as portrayed in film. When the captain proposed in real life, Maria wrote in her 1948 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.”

17. I coulda been a contender

Julie Andrews was far from the first or only actress considered for the role of Maria. Reportedly, studio execs also courted Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day for the part. Both Sean Connery and Bing Crosby turned down the Captain von Trapp role. Fred Astaire was considered for the role of Max, and Grace Kelly for the Baronness. Mia Farrow also auditioned for the part of Leisl.

16. Brown trumps blonde

Angela Cartwright was initially asked to wear a blonde wig to read for the role of Louisa. Ultimately, she was cast as a brown-haired


15. Mayoral meeting

The film’s director met with the mayor of Salzburg prior to filming to feel him out on how he felt his citizens would respond to the presence of Nazi Stormtroopers and flags on the streets, just 25 years after the real thing took place.

14. 21 going on 22

The actress who played Liesl (Charmian Carr) was actually 21, and not 16 going on 17 as her popular song may lead one to believe, when the movie was filmed.

13. Kid stuff

The producers took considerable license when it came to the family offspring. All the names and ages of the von Trapp children were changed in the film version. And the real von Trapps had an oldest son, not an oldest daughter. Indeed, Liesl’s character was utter fiction.

12. Special cameo

Ever so briefly, the real Maria von Trapp, her daughter and granddaughter appear in the background of the “I Have Confidence” scene, which sees Maria leaving the convent for the von Trapp home.

11. A visit from Hitler

After the real Von Trapps fled Austria, their home was occupied by Heinrich Himmler. Adolf Hitler was said to have visited his right-hand man there many times.

10. A helping hand

The spectacle of the von Trapps pushing their silent car away from the abbey in the closing scenes of the movie was actually aided and abetted by the invisible-to-the-audience presence of a handful of strong Austrians who are pulling the vehicle with ropes from the front.

9. Growing concerns

Because the actress who played the von Trapp’s youngest child, Gretl (Kym Karath) gained so much weight over the course of the filming, Plummer declared her too heavy to hoist onto his shoulders for the culminating mountain-climbing scene. As such, a lighter stunt double appears in that shot.

8. Packing them in

The Sound of Music was such a fan favourite in South Korea that some theatres showed the movie several times a day. In a bid to exploit its popularity even more, one enterprising theatre owner cut the musical numbers so its shorter run length allowed for more daily showings.

7. Keeping it in the family

The von Trapp family singing tradition continues. The younger generation—the great grandchildren of the movie’s featured players—still sing professionally in the States.

6. Italian holiday

The gripping drama of the apparent on-foot escape of the von Trapps over the Alps was fiction. The real family apparently won their freedom by going by train on a vacation to Italy, just a day before Austria closed its borders. From Italy, they travelled to the United States, where they were signed as the Von Trapp Family Singers.

5. Adding to the troop

Captain von Trapp and Maria added to the seven children from his first marriage with three children of their own, the last of whom was born in 1939.

4. Drinking on the job

In the culminating scene of the movie that sees the Von Trapp Family Singers compete in the music festival, their father is acting suspiciously giddy. Christopher Plummer later admitted that he was drunk during its filming.

3. Growing concerns 2

The actress who played Louisa (Heather Menzies-Urich) was about three inches taller than the actor who played Friedrich (Nicholas Hammond). Or at least she was at the beginning of the filming cycle. To compensate, the director had Hammond wear heel lifts. But by the end of the shoot, he had grown six inches, and so filmed without shoes.

2. Saving the Century

Twentieth Century Fox was struggling financially after the explosive failure that was Cleopatra, in 1963. The Sound of Music is widely celebrated as having saved the place from certain failure.

1. Keeping it casual

At no point in the film does Maria ever use Captain von Trapp’s given name, Georg. Instead, she refers to him as Captain, Darling and Sir.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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