The Story of the Sound of Music



   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.


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