The Cast



Julie Andrews (Maria)
According to the book The Sound of Music - The Making of America's Favorite Movie, when Julie Andrews won the film role of Maria, it was actually her second dramatic interpretation of the singing governess.

In 1962, Andrews co-starred in a television special with her friend Carol Burnett. Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall included a parody of Broadway's biggest hit at the time--The Sound Of Music. In a skit entitled, "The Pratt Family of Switzerland," Julie delivered a delicious parody of a von Trapp family singer, little dreaming that three years later the role of Maria von Trapp would send her career into the stratosphere (one sign of her growing star status: her foot and hand prints had already been enshrined outside Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood).

Although many actresses were considered for the role of Maria, writer Ernest Lehman and producer/director Robert Wise considered seriously only Andrews, who, at 28, could easily pass for being in her early twenties. While the fact that she had already played a nanny in Mary Poppins did cross Andrews' mind, she never seriously considered turning the part down. However, she did voice concerns that the movie not end up too sweet to digest.

A transatlantic stage luminary before she entered films, Andrews achieved superstar status with The Sound Of Music. She has since collaborated with second husband, writer/director Blake Edwards, on many films, and in 1982 was nominated for an Academy Award® for her role in Victor/Victoria--recently reprised on Broadway to much acclaim.



Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp)
The Sound Of Music marked a dramatic change of pace for noted stage actor Christopher Plummer, who was chosen by producer/director Wise for the extra dimension and interesting edge he could bring to the film.

Prior to The Sound Of Music, Plummer had made only one major film, The Fall of the Roman Empire. Regarded as one of the foremost Shakespearean actors of the day, he was valued not only for his acting technique but also for his air of elegance, which suited perfectly the role of the dashing widower Captain von Trapp. Intimately involved with how his character would be portrayed, Plummer once spent four days in Lehman's office insisting that his part be rewritten to render the Captain stronger and more believable.

A Canadian by birth, Plummer was one of the stalwarts of the famed Shakespearean repertory company at Stratford Company. He won international acclaim for his portrayal of Hamlet, which was specially taped by BBC-TV at Elsinore Castle in Denmark and subsequently broadcast throughout Europe and the United States. Plummer has appeared in numerous movies over the years, and works continually in film, on television and on stage all over the world.



Eleanor Parker (The Baroness)
A student at the famed Pasadena Playhouse when she was spotted by a talent scout-not in a play, but as a member of the audience- Parker was screen-tested and signed to the movies within days of her 19th Birthday. Her career climaxed in the 1950's, when she received three Academy Award® nominations: for Caged (1950), Detective Story (1951), and Interrupted Melody (1955).

Wise had worked with Parker before, so he was aware of her talent, but he also cast her because she had "name" value. Parker had been a film actress for 20 years and Wise felt he needed a "star" to sell his picture. After The Sound Of Music, Parker retired to Palm Springs and remains proud of her part in the musical's success.



Richard Haydn (Max Detweiler)
Haydn started out dancing in a professional chorus in Scotland at age 19; soon thereafter a 100-pound inheritance from his aunt allowed him to retire to a banana plantation in Jamaica. When a Canadian film company came to the island to make a picture, Haydn filled in for a sick makeup man and caught the movie bug. Wise knew of Haydn's work and thought he would be perfect for the role of Max Detweiler--not only because of his great comedic timing, but also for his engaging personality. He loved children and was given the moniker "Herr Dad." Haydn died on April 25, 1985.



Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess)
One of the grande dames of the American theater, Wood makes one of her rare screen appearances in The Sound Of Music in a role that took her back to the start of her career, for Wood had starred in musicals two generations before she earned acclaim as a dramatic actress. Miss Wood is probably best known for the record she set in the youngest entertainment medium, television, for eight years playing Mama in I Remember Mama.

Wise knew Peggy as a warm and generous person, ideal qualities for the Mother Abbess role. And Wood was thrilled with her part, even though she knew her voice was going to be dubbed. Wood passed away March 18, 1978.


The Children
According to Hirsch's book, in casting the children, Wise had concerns beyond how the scenes were played and lines were delivered. He wanted to see how the children handled themselves, how "real" they came across, and whether or not they radiated "screen magic."



Charmian Carr (Liesl)
The Sound Of Music marks the start of Carr's acting career. In fact, Charmian Farnon (Wise changed her real name because it was always mispronounced) was not initially interested in becoming an actress. She was modeling part time to save up for a trip to Europe when a friend sent her picture to producer-director Wise. He discovered that she could sing and dance when he called her in for an interview; a screen test confirmed his instincts. Charmian now runs her own interior design business in Encino, California, with a client list that includes Michael Jackson-who hired her in part because of his love for Liesl.



Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich)
One of the three children among the seven in The Sound Of Music with previous professional experience, Hammond had appeared on television, on Broadway, and in the movie, Lord of the Flies. Hammond went to audition for the role a few days after being in a skiing accident-and in he walked with his two front teeth missing and his arm in a sling. He didn't think he had a chance because he couldn't sing, but despite all these handicaps, he landed the role. Hammond now lives in Australia, where he still makes his living as a stage actor.



Heather Menzies (Louisa)
A ballet student who had appeared on a local amateur TV show, Menzies had no acting experience when she auditioned for the role of Louisa, but somehow managed to get cast right away. After The Sound Of Music, she starred in the Logan's Run television series as well as other movies. She then gave up acting to become a full time mother to her two children with her husband, actor Robert Urich.



Duane Chase (Kurt)
Chase began his acting career in commercials at the age of 11, a way of helping to fund his college career. At his second audition for The Sound of Music Wise walked up to him and invited him personally to join the cast in Salzburg. Duane lives in Washington State and today tests computer software for oil and mining companies.



Angela Cartwright (Brigitta)
Another pro amongst the child actors who auditioned, Cartwright spent seven years as Danny Thomas's TV daughter on Make Room for Daddy, as well as acting in commercials and modeling. Cartwright was thrilled to land the role of Brigitta, even though she had to miss the final episode of Daddy to begin Sound of Music rehearsals. After the movie wrapped, Cartwright joined the cast of the TV series Lost In Space and continued to act in films. She and her husband, Steve Gullion, started a gift shop, Rubber Boots, that she still runs in Toluca Lake, California.



Debbie Turner (Marta)
Turner had done some commercial modeling before being signed to The Sound of Music. She now lives in a small town in Minnesota with her husband and four children.



Kym Karath (Gretl)
Coming from a family of performers, Karath appeared in three movies before making The Sound Of Music. At her audition for the role of Gretl, she appeared so confident and talkative that Wise knew he might not find another 5-year-old with such charisma and signed her for the part on the spot. Karath was a regular on All My Children before taking time off to have a baby.



Return to thesoundofmusic.net

Copyright ©1998-2002 thesoundofmusic.net