Christopher Plummer Dead: Where The ‘Sound Of Music’ Von Trapp Kids Are Today
Feb 20, 2021 by apost team
Christopher Plummer had a long and illustrious acting career on both the stage and screen. Consequently, his death in February at the age of 91 left many people saddened. The Canadian actor had a long career decorated with many awards wins, including two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe Award and even an Academy Award at the age of 82, which made him the oldest person to win an acting award at the Oscars. He set a new record just a few years later when he became the oldest person to be nominated for an acting award at the Oscars at the age of 88.
He starred in many roles throughout his over seven-decade-long career, but his most famous was his role as Georg von Trapp in the 1965 musical "The Sound of Music." Playing the patriarch of a family of seven children who falls in love with a rambunctious nun named Maria, played by Julie Andrews, the movie was an instant hit and still lives on in the hearts of many, particularly those who first saw it as children. Plummer famously didn't enjoy playing the role, despite the fact that it became his most iconic. But one positive thing that did come from his work on the film was a lifelong friendship with his co-star Andrews.
With the sad news of his death, the world has been in mourning. But it's also brought up the question of what his onscreen family from "The Sound of Music," the von Trapp children, are up to now — let's take a look.
Charmian Carr — Liesl
The eldest of the von Trapp children, Liesl, left a lasting impression on audiences with her delightful solo song in the film "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" — what teenage girl couldn't identify with that tune when they first heard it? In the film, she was headstrong and felt wise beyond her years, falling in love with Rolf, who later turned out to be a Nazi. Of all the von Trapp children, her role was certainly the most substantial.
Despite how confidently Liesl came off in the film, Charmian Carr, the actress who played the role, actually had no acting experience prior to the movie. Instead, she had been studying speech therapy and philosophy at university. In fact, it was her mother who set up the audition for her. She was obviously the right choice since she beat out other actresses such as Mia Farrow, Patty Duke and Teri Garr for the part.
After "The Sound of Music's" success, Carr appeared in the pilot of a television show named "Take Her, She's Mine," as well as featuring in a Stephen Sondheim musical. But show business wasn't for her — she later married a dentist named Jay Brent, had two daughters named Jennifer and Emily and eventually left the industry for good. She went on to become an interior designer based in Encino, California. However, she didn't forget her "Sound of Music" past entirely, as she released two books titled "Forever Liesl" and "Letters to Liesl." Sadly she passed away in 2016 from complications related to dementia at age 73.
Nicholas Hammond — Friedrich
The eldest von Trapp boy was Friedrich, played by Nicholas Hammond. A 14-year-old in the film, Hammond was close in age to his character and quite the opposite of a novice actor, having already appeared on Broadway before. "The Sound of Music" would be just the start of a long acting career for him — throughout the 1970s and '80s, he appeared in guest roles on television shows "The Brady Bunch," "Hawaii Five-0," "The Love Boat," "Magnum, P.I.," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Dallas" among others. He even played Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the late '70s television show "The Amazing Spider-Man," which is perhaps his most famous role.
Now 70, Hammond has managed to keep up a career in show business, but he splits his time between Hollywood and Australia. After falling in love with the country in the mid-'80s, when he acted in a mini-series that was filmed there, he decided to make the move Down Under. Since then, he's worked in the film industry there, switching between acting and writing, while in 2009 he made his directorial debut with the play "Lying Cheating Bastard." He is married to Australian actress Robyn Nevin, and the two live in Sydney.
While he mostly works in Australian television these days, his latest film role was actually in Quentin Tarantino's 2019 film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" in which he played the film director Sam Wanamaker. On top of his acting career, Hammond is also a well-educated man, having graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English.Nicholas Hammond (2019), (Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Heather Menzies-Urich — Louisa
The next eldest child in the von Trapp family was Louisa, played by a then 14-year-old Heather Menzies-Urich. Collectively with her onscreen siblings, Louisa sang "So Long, Farewell" and "The Lonely Goatherd" in the movie. She had only appeared on one television show prior to being cast in the film, but that didn't hold her back from pursuing a career in Hollywood after "The Sound of Music's" success. For the following nearly three decades, she acted mostly in shows and movies for television, including "Dragnet," "Bonanza," "S.W.A.T.," "The Love Boat" and "Vega$." In fact, it was on "Vega$" that she met her second husband, actor Robert Urich, and the two were married in 1975. Her first husband was John Cluett, whom she married in 1969 before they divorced in 1973.
In the 1970s, Menzies-Urich played up her connection to "The Sound of Music" when she appeared in a cheeky Playboy editorial titled "Tender Trapp." As well as her television work, she appeared in the cult classic satirical horror movie "Piranha" from 1978.
However, by the 1990s she had effectively retired from acting, instead opting for family life with her husband and their three adopted children. After he passed away in 2002 from a rare form of cancer, Menzies-Urich left the spotlight to focus on the foundation she had set up in his memory, using her time to raise money for cancer research. Sadly, in 2017 she would succumb to cancer herself, dying just three weeks after her 68th birthday after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.Duane Chase, Heather Menzies (2005), (Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
Duane Chase — Kurt
Firmly in the middle of the von Trapp children was Kurt, the cherub-cheeked second boy who was played by Duane Chase. His role in the film was not as prominent as his elder siblings, but he was a part of the movie's group songs performed by the von Trapp children. Fifteen years old when he played the role, Chase appeared in only a handful of other movies and shows afterward, before changing course in his life to focus on the natural world. Of his acting work, he had a small role in the 1966 movie "Follow Me, Boys!," which starred Kurt Russell, and he featured in one episode of the western television series "The Big Valley." However, after high school, Chase left acting and Hollywood for good, opting for a quieter life that revolved around nature.
In 1969, after he graduated from Rolling Hills High School in Rolling Hills, California, Chase joined the United States Forest Service in Santa Barbara. He also enrolled at the University of California, Santa Barbara in order to complete a degree in geology. After graduating, he worked for one year in Denver at a Chevron refinery as well as a software engineer before choosing to go and study for a master's degree in geology at the University of Alabama.
Clearly a lover of nature, Chase is surrounded by the great outdoors in Washington, where he now lives and continues doing his wildlife and forestry work. He is also married to a registered nurse named Petra Maria, who hails from Hamburg, Germany.Duane Chase, Heather Menzies (2005), (Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
Angela Cartwright — Brigitta
In stark contrast to her fellow von Trapp siblings, Angela Cartwright, who played Brigitta, was a seasoned young actress when she appeared in "The Sound of Music." Born in England, Cartwright and her family moved to the United States when she was young, which allowed her to work in Hollywood from a young age. Thirteen years old when she was cast to play the 10-year-old Brigitta, she had already been a child actress for some time. Prior to "The Sound of Music," she had made her debut at the tender age of 3, when she played Paul Newman's daughter in "Somebody Up There Likes Me." She had also been a series regular on the long-running "The Danny Thomas Show." Following "The Sound of Music," she played the role of Penny Robinson in "Lost in Space" and appeared in the show "Make Room for Granddaddy." Acting even runs in the family, as her sister is also an actress.
Cartwright has continued to act up until this day, but for the last 30 years she has worked primarily as a photographer. This change occurred after she had her two children Jesse and Rebecca Gullion, with her husband Steve Gullion, whom she married in 1976. She even owns a studio in Studio City, Los Angeles, where her work has been exhibited. Additionally, she has published several books on photography techniques.
In recent years, Cartwright has appeared in small cameo roles in film and television, including in Netflix's reimagined "Lost In Space" television show as Sheila Harris, Dr. Smith's mom.Angela Cartwright (2018), (JB Lacroix/WireImage/Getty images)
Debbie Turner — Marta
The second youngest of the von Trapp kids, Marta, was played by Debbie Turner, who followed in many of her onscreen siblings' paths by not choosing a life in the limelight. However, her early life was spent in front of the camera, as she and her real-life siblings were active in television and commercial work from a young age. After she won the role of Marta in "The Sound of Music," Turner left the industry while still a child, instead choosing to return to school.
As a kid, Turner was just as interested in sports as she was in acting. An avid skier, she would move to Chanhassen, Minnesota, where she got married to her husband Rick in 1985 and had four daughters of her own. There she began a career as an interior designer and she now has her own floral design business. In fact, her floral artistry even merged with her "Sound of Music" history, when she was asked to create floral arrangements for a wedding in Salzburg, Austria, that took place at a palace that inspired the design of "The Sound of Music's" sets. What a lovely collaboration that must have been for her — and a special moment for the wedding party!
While she gave up show business for a quieter life, Turner would still meet with her "Sound of Music" co-stars and family and even appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in honor of the film's 45th anniversary. Additionally, she was asked to be one of three float judges at the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade.Debbie Turner (2005), (Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
Kym Karath — Gretl
Certainly one of the most memorable of the von Trapp children, the youngest, Gretl, was played by Kym Karath, who stole the audience's hearts. She started her career at the tender age of 3 when she appeared alongside Henry Fonda in "Spencer's Mountain," which incidentally also featured Veronica Cartwright, whose real-life sister Angela Cartwright would play Karath's von Trapp sister Brigitta. Just 5 years old when she was cast in "The Sound of Music," Karath appeared in television shows throughout the 1960s and '70s, but after graduating from the University of Southern California with a humanities degree, she left the entertainment industry.
She later moved to Paris where she got married and had a son, but she eventually moved back to the United States. Her son Eric was born with disabilities, so she dedicated her time to him, even helping to found the Aurelia Foundation, an organization that helps to provide services to individuals with special needs after they finish high school.
Resuming her career as an actress and writer in 2005, Karath even tweeted about the sad news of Christopher Plummer's death recently. She wrote:
"Deeply saddened to hear of Chris Plummer’s passing. He was a lovely, brilliantly talented man, with a wickedly witty sense of humor. And he was extremely sweet to me. I will miss him."
One memory that Karath will always carry with her from her days filming "The Sound of Music" is her near brush with death. According to the Daily Mail, Karath nearly drowned on set and remains afraid of water to this day.Kym Karath (2012), (Tibrina Hobson/WireImage/Getty images)
The Von Trapp Family
"The Sound of Music" is one of the most iconic movies of Hollywood's Golden Age. Alongside the seven von Trapp children, its two lead stars, Plummer and Andrews, went on to have successful careers, but it's often for this film that they're remembered. At one point the highest-grossing film in the world, it sat at the top spot for five years before being overtaken. The film won numerous accolades, including five Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. Although met with mixed reviews from critics, it was an immediate hit with audiences and has remained as such to this day.
That makes sense; after all, it really has something for everyone — whether you're an adult and are interested in the historical setting of the film, or in Georg von Trapp and Maria's love story or just a child that sees yourself in one of the children, "The Sound of Music" is a pure joy to watch and is a testament to Hollywood. Following its immense success, the two lead actors took their careers in different directions, with Plummer returning to the theater and Andrews continuing on in films as both an actor and singer.
In honor of Plummer, this look at his famous onscreen family should bring about emotions for many who are still fans of the film. While it's sad that Plummer and some of the von Trapp children have also passed on, their memories will forever be ingrained in this iconic movie, and hopefully, it will have a lasting influence on generations to come.Charmian Carr, Nicholas Hammond, Heather Menzies, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright, Debbie Turner, Kym Karath (2012), (Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images) Nicholas Hammond, Kym Karath, Angela Cartwright, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, Heather Menzies, Debbie Turner, Duane Chase(1965), (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Have you ever wondered what happened to the von Trapp children? Were you surprised by any of their stories? Be sure to pass this on to any "Sound of Music" fans you know so that they can learn more too!