Heather Menzies-Urich, who gained fame as a teenager when she played Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, died Sunday night at the age of 68 after a short battle with cancer.
In a statement quoted by Variety, Menzies-Urich’s son Ryan Urich said that his mother died on Christmas Eve, surrounded by her children and other loved ones. He announced her cause of death as terminal brain cancer, a condition she was diagnosed with less than four weeks before her passing.
“She was an actress, a ballerina and loved living her life to the fullest. She was not in any pain but, nearly four weeks after her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, she had enough and took her last breath on this earth at 7:22 p.m.”
Born in Toronto in 1949, Heather Menzies was a teenager when she and her family moved from Canada to California and settled in the Los Angeles area. She would soon embark on an acting career, making her first credited appearance in 1964 in the TV series The Farmer’s Daughter. She was then cast as Louisa von Trapp in The Sound of Music, where she appeared as the third-oldest of the seven von Trapp children, and starred alongside Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
After mostly appearing in a number of popular television shows, including Dragnet and Marcus Welby, M.D., as well as movies such as Hawaii and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Heather Menzies met Robert Urich in the mid-1970s while the two actors were shooting a Libby’s Corned Beef Hash commercial. The couple got married in 1975, with their union lasting until Urich’s death in 2002 at the age of 55 from a rare form of soft tissue cancer.
According to Variety, Menzies-Urich spent most of the last few years supporting the Robert Urich Foundation, an organization she created to raise funds for cancer research, while also providing support to cancer patients. As noted on her IMDB page, Heather continued acting after her marriage to Urich, as she starred in the regular cast of the TV series Logan’s Run, and made guest appearances on The Six Million Dollar Man, The Love Boat, and Spenser: For Hire, among other series. Her last acting role came in 1990, as she guested in the short-lived series American Dreamer.
Heather Menzies-Urich’s death made her the second of The Sound of Music’s von Trapp children to pass on in recent years. Charmian Carr, who played oldest child Liesl von Trapp, died in September 2016 at the age of 73 after suffering complications from dementia, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Unlike her younger onscreen sibling, who continued acting into her 40s, Carr retired from acting at a very young age, appearing in her last film in 1966, and starting a design company whose clients included the late Michael Jackson. She also co-authored two books in the early 2000s, both of which focused on her brief acting career, specifically her experience starring in The Sound of Music.