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Maria von Trapp Dies: 'Sound of Music' Inspiration Was 99

Image: Maria von Trapp Dies: 'Sound of Music' Inspiration Was 99

By Clyde Hughes   |   Monday, 24 Feb 2014 07:16 AM

Maria Franziska von Trapp, the last surviving member of the von Trapp singers, who were portrayed in the iconic 1965 hit movie "The Sound of Music," died at her home in Stowe, Vt. on Tuesday at 99.

Von Trapp, born in 1914, was the third oldest of seven brothers and sisters born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe, who died of scarlet fever, according to the New York Times. 

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Von Trapp died at her home in Vermont on Tuesday, according to her half-brother Johannes von Trapp.

"She was a lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people," he said. "There wasn't a mean or miserable bone in her body. I think everyone who knew her would agree with that."

"The Sound of Music" was based on the real life story that Baron Georg von Trapp, a widower, fell in love with the children's governess, also named Maria, and the family toured as a choir.

"The Sound of Music" was first a hit Broadway play in 1959, with Mary Martin playing the role of the governess. Julie Andrews immortalized the role in Hollywood's version on film. The young Maria von Trapp, named Louisa in the movie, was portrayed by actress Heather Menzies.

Maria von Trapp needed a tutor at home because she also had scarlet fever and could not walk to school, which led to the father hiring the governess. Baron Georg von Trapp and the governess married in 1927 and had three children together.

The play and subsequent movie was based loosely on the governess's 1949 book. She died in 1987, according to the Associated Press. 

The family fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and toured Europe and the U.S. for a few months. The family eventually opened a ski lodge in Vermont, settling in the state in the early 1940s, noted the AP.

Maria von Trapp continued to entertain at the lodge, playing the accordion while teaching Austrian dance with half-sister Rosmarie.

"Our mother and Rosmarie were the only family members who met Julie Andrews," Maria von Trapp said of the making of the "Sound of Music" on the family's biography on its website. "You can see both of them in the film for a split second passing through the arches near the cathedral in Salzburg. The family never met Christopher Plummer or Julie Andrews, but caught up with the 'Children' in 1998. A few of us are still in contact with our film siblings." 

Von Trapp is survived by her son and three half-siblings.

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