A Few of Our Favorite Things: Fun Trivia Facts About The Sound of Music

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's a no-brainer that The Sound of Music isn't exactly on the favorite films lists of most heterosexual men. However, whether you're male or female, gay or straight, I hope you'll enjoy these fun trivia facts about the making of the movie that I gleamed from various sources. I must admit that after all these years there were tons of cool factoids listed here that I'd never heard of before:

*Christopher Plummer hated working on the film. He referred to it as "The Sound of Mucus" or "S&M" and compared working with the cheerful Julie Andrews to "being hit over the head with a big Valentine's Day card, every day." Nonetheless, he and Andrews have remained close friends all these years.

*Among the child actors who auditioned to play one of the Von Trapp children were Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Veronica Cartwright, and the four eldest Osmond Brothers (Alan Osmond, Jay Osmond, Merrill Osmond and Wayne Osmond). Dreyfuss couldn't dance. Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Kim Darby, Lesley Ann Warren, Tisha Sterling, and Sharon Tate all auditioned/tested for the role of Liesl.

*Charmian Carr, who played the eldest daughter Liesl, admitted on The Oprah Winfrey Show to having a huge crush on her movie dad, Christopher Plummer (well, can you blame her?) Plummer drank heavily on the set and reportedly taught Carr how to knock back one or two. 

*Sean Connery and Richard Burton were considered for the part of Captain von Trapp.

*The gazebo used for the "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "Something Good" scenes can still be visited in the Salzburg area, on Sound of Music tours. However, the public had to be excluded from the interior because film fans who were considerably older than "sixteen going on seventeen" were injuring themselves while trying to jump from bench to bench. The gazebo in Austria was only used for exterior shots. The actual dance by Charmian Carr and Daniel Truhitte was, in fact, filmed on a replica of the gazebo's interior on a sound stage at 20th Century-Fox in Los Angeles, as were the shots of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

*While the von Trapp family hiked over the Alps to Switzerland in the movie, in reality they walked to the local train station and boarded the next train to Italy. From Italy, they fled to London and ultimately the USA. Salzburg is in fact only a few miles away from the Austrian-German border, and is much too far from either the Swiss or Italian borders for a family to escape by walking. Had the von Trapps hiked over the mountains, they would have ended up in Germany, near Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat.  

*The house that was used as the Von Trapp home was actually owned by actress Hedy Lamarr.

*Debbie Turner, who played Marta, had many loose baby teeth during filming. When they fell out, they were replaced with false teeth.

*At the beginning of filming, Heather Menzies (Louisa) was about three inches taller than Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich). He had to wear heel lifts to make him look taller. By the end of the shoot, Nicolas Hammond had grown six inches (5'3" to 5'9"). He often filmed in no shoes and Charmian Carr had to stand on a box to make her taller. All of the Von Trapp children grew a lot during filming, so heel lifts and various camera tricks were used to keep their heights steady.

*In real life, Georg Von Trapp was not stern. The real-life Trapp children were a bit upset by the portrayal of their father in the film. Maria von Trapp requested that director Robert Wise soften the character of her husband, but Wise refused. 

*Christopher Plummer learned to play the guitar for his part, but the guitar (and his recorded vocals) were dubbed over. 

*In the closing shot, when the family is climbing over the hills to safety, it is not really Kym Karath as Gretl on the shoulders of Captain von Trapp. In the DVD version, it is revealed that while in Austria, Kym Karath gained a lot of weight. This was one of the last shots filmed and so she was evidently a bit too heavy to be carried on Christopher Plummer's back. Plummer requested a stunt double and that is who's seen being carried on his back.

*The real Maria Von Trapp has a cameo in the movie. She can be seen as the elder of two women in Austrian peasant garb who are in the background as Maria walks through a brick archway during "I Have Confidence".

*The opening film shot was actually the final sequence shot in Europe before the cast and crew returned to Los Angeles. It was filmed in late June and early July of 1964. Despite the warm and sunny appearance, Julie Andrews notes that she was freezing doing numerous takes of the scene. Director Robert Wise has said that he had to climb one of the trees nearby to be able to oversee the helicopter shoot without getting in the picture.

*At the musical competition at the end of the movie, Fraulein Schweiger--the third place winner--bows a total of 16 times.

*In Austria the film is know as "Meine Lieder - meine Träume" ("My Songs - my dreams"). It's not very well known there though, and the ending of the film was cut when it hit Austrian cinemas in the 60s.

*During the scene with Maria and the Captain at the gazebo, Julie Andrews couldn't stop laughing due to a lighting device that was making, in her words, a "raspberry" every time she leaned in to kiss Plummer. After more than 20 takes, the scene was altered to silhouette the two and to hide Andrews' giggles.

*The song "Edelweiss" was written for the musical and is little known in Austria. It was the last composition that Oscar Hammerstein II wrote before his passing in 1960.


  1. I've never seen this movie, and I think I'm probably the only one!

  2. Marlene - Nope, Gilligan over at Retrospace has not seen it, either!

  3. "It's a no-brainer that The Sound of Music isn't exactly on the favorite films lists of most heterosexual men."
    You got that right, I also have never seen this movie though I know it's much loved.
    Even so there's a piece of trivia that you did not mention (of interest only to 70's TV fans): child actor Heather Menzies grew up and appeared in Playboy and later starred in the short lived Logan's Run series (one of my faves).
    And child actor Nicholas Hammond went on to become Spider-Man in the 70's TV series.

  4. Thanks, Luis - neither of those tidbits were listed on IMDB. Also, Heather Menzies was married to the late Robert Urich of "Spencer for Hire" fame.

  5. My mom loves this film. I used to also when I was a kid but not anymore. I would listen to the soundtrack and sometimes sing along to the songs. My brother's 4th grade class did this play. These facts are very interesting. I'll have to tell my mom about them. I only knew about one of them, that the father really wasn't that stern.


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