Maria von Trapp, the last surviving sibling of the famous family portrayed in the Broadway musical and film “The Sound of Music,” died on Feb. 18 at her home in Stowe, VT. She was 99-years-old.
Her half-brother, Johannes von Trapp, confirmed her death.
Maria was the third oldest child of seven born to Baron Georg von Trapp and his first wife Agathe, who died of scarlet fever in 1922.
The story of her father falling in love with his children’s governess, also named Maria, served as the basis for the popular musical and Oscar-winning film.
The von Trapp family performing in 1937
Maria was actually the reason a governess was brought in to work for the family. She was in need of a tutor due to a bout with scarlet fever that kept her from attending school. The Baron married the elder Maria in 1927 and they went on to have three children together.
The 99-year-old was named Louisa in the film version and was played by Heather Menzies.
Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer played Georg and the elder Maria von Trapp in the 1965 film
All seven of the siblings learned to play musical instruments at a young age and in an essay Maria wrote on the family’s website, she described, “Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory…you could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders.”
As in the stage and film versions, the family fled Nazi-occupied Austria in the late '30s and performed in both Europe and the United States. They eventually settled in Vermont, where they bought a 660-acre farm.
Though “The Sound of Music” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1966 and is still beloved by many generations today, Maria once expressed her displeasure in seeing her father (portrayed in the film by Christopher Plummer) as a strict disciplinarian.
She described her father as “so completely different” from his representation in the film and said he “always looked after us a lot, especially after our mother died.” She maintained that the film was “never meant to be a documentary about our life.”
Maria (L) with sister Agathe
Maria is survived by one son, whom she adopted from Papua New Guinea, and three half-siblings, Johannes, Rosemarie and Eleonore.