Maria Von Trapp died on Saturday at the age of 99. The second oldest daughter of Baron Georg Von Trapp, she was the last remaining member of the family made famous through the beloved movie classic The Sound Of Music.
Maria Von Trapp died at her home in Vermont, the state the Von Trapp family had lived in since they left Nazi occupied Austria in 1938. Americans began to get familiarized with the family in the 30’s and 40’s when the Trapp Family Singers would perform for audiences in New York. Eventually their story would be turned into a Broadway musical and in 1965, The Sound of Music movie was released. The family was forever immortalized at that point.
The real story of the Von Trapp family is just as intriguing as the movie based on the other “Maria”, played by Julie Andrews in the movie. Daughter Maria Von Trapp and her family found themselves in crisis in the mid-1920’s when the mother of the original seven Von Trapp children, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, died. Soon they were joined by a young nun hopeful who was hired to help with the care of the children. Romance blossomed between Baron Von Trapp and Maria Kutschera. The two were married in 1927.
When the European economy was struggling in the midst of World War II, it was singing that kept the family afloat. “Without the singing, we would have never made it to the United States,” Von Trapp once said.
His second wife, now Maria Von Trapp, died in 1987. It was her 1949 book that led to the musical and the movie The Sound Of Music. Last year, Carrie Underwood starred in a live version of the musical, to mixed responses. The children were never particularly fond of any of the actors portraying their family, including Christopher Plummer’s Baron Von Trapp.
“We were all pretty shocked at how they portrayed our father, he was so completely different. He always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died,” Maria von Trapp said in one interview before she died.
There are still three children living from the Von Trapp family, all born to the Baron’s second wife. They are not portrayed in the family, therefore Maria is the last of The Sound Of Music children to die. She was remembered by her brother, Johannes Von Trapp, as “a lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people.”
The Von Trapp family has owned a ski resort in Vermont since moving there. Maria Von Trapp’s death at the age of 99 is the close to the last chapter of one of the great stories to come out of the brutal Nazi occupation.