Memories from Childhood - How the Lead characters from the Sound of Music have fared (Julie Andrew & Christopher Plummer)

 “Climb every mountain, ford every stream. Follow every rainbow until you find your dream”

T HE MOVIE HAS EVERYTHING: music, romance, kids, spectacular scenery, religion, sentiment, comedy high and low, and, at the end, intrigue and adventure.” – Chicago Tribune

Growing up in the 80’s was special in its own right, but watching one of the greatest musicals of all times – The Sound of Music – had its own perks. It is now forever etched in the fondest part of my childhood memories.

The Sound of Music released on April 1st, 1965 is one of my all-time favorites. The story focused on the courageous Von Trapp family and the events immortalized in the beloved Broadway musical and hit Hollywood film.

The movie is related to a true story of Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp (née Kutschera; 26 January 1905 – 28 March 1987) who was the stepmother and matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers. She wrote The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, which was published in 1949 and was the inspiration for the 1956 West German film The Trapp Family, which in turn inspired the Broadway musical The Sound of Music (1959) and its 1965 film version.

Maria was asked to teach one of the seven children (Maria Franziska) of widowed naval commander Georg von Trapp in 1926, while she was still a schoolteacher at the abbey. His wife Agatha had died in 1922 from scarlet fever. Eventually, Maria began to look after the other children (Rupert, Agathe, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, and Martina), as well.

Captain von Trapp saw how much she cared about his children and asked her to marry him, although he was 25 years her senior. She was frightened and fled back to Nonnberg Abbey to seek guidance from the mother abbess, who advised her that it was God’s will that she should marry him.

She then returned to the family and accepted the proposal. She wrote in her autobiography that she was very angry on her wedding day, both at God and at her husband, because what she really wanted was to be a nun. “I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children. I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.

The movie is a good mix of music, love and comedy and it touched a million hearts with both its storyline and it’s numerous easy to sing-along songs.

I can practically mouth off half a dozen of the songs off heart with little difficulties. And songs from this movie were the first I tried out on the piano decades ago when I started out learning to play. Nowadays, doing so alone awakens a special part of me hitherto locked up years ago along with my childhood innocence.

I recollect one time the movie was featured on one of the TV screens at the boarding area of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. I suppose this was in a bid to get some of the passengers waiting to board their flight to buy the DVD, but it left me rooted to my seat with misty eyes smacking from a strong dose of nostalgia. No doubt, it holds a special place in my heart.

I have therefore taken a bit of my time to research about all the cast on this classic movie and to find out what they have been up to and what they look like now. This edition will focus on the two lead actors – Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. I hope to share stories and updates on the others actors in due course.

This post isn’t intended to replace those special evergreen memories with their recent stories, but to give some closure for those who have always wondered what happened after the movie to their beloved stars.

Julie Andrews

By far the most successful of the entire cast, Julie Andrew Andrews was barely 30 years old when she acted in the highest-grossing movie of its day and one of the highest-grossing of all time. She was born October 1, 1935, at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England and is fondly remembered for her portrayal of the governess and aspiring nun, Maria. She was the star of the movie and noted for her exceptional crystalline four-octave voice and her charm and skill as an actress. It is reported that she could sing notes only dogs could hear at the age of seven. It was reputed that she learned to play the guitar specifically for the role of “Maria”. Her performance in the movie earned her another Academy Award nomination, after she had won both a Grammy and an Academy Award for her performance in Mary Poppings only a year earlier.

Since her performance in the musicals, she has proved herself a versatile actress, adept at both comedy and drama, and she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as a woman impersonating a male female-impersonator in Edwards’s Victor/Victoria (1982).

She was also widely praised for her portrayal of a violinist struggling with multiple sclerosis in Duet for One (1986). Her later films included the family comedies The Princess Diaries (2001) and its sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). She also narrated the fantasy Enchanted (2007) and provided the voice of the queen in several of the animated Shrek films (2004, 2007, and 2010).

In addition, Andrews voiced characters in Despicable Me (2010), Despicable Me 3 (2017), and Aquaman (2018).

As recent as 2011 she won a Grammy Award for Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies, a spoken-word album for children, and she was honored with a special Grammy for lifetime achievement. (Culled from britannica.com)

She underwent a throat surgery in June 1997 and her husband reported that that she would probably never sing again because the throat surgery had ruined her voice. It was so bad that she spent some time in a psychiatric clinic, to help her cope with the trauma resulting from her throat surgery. 

The song, “Your Crowning Glory” from The Princess Diaries 2 (2004), was the first time she had sung in public or on screen since she had throat surgery in 1997. She reportedly nailed the song on the first take, and brought tears to the eyes of the crew present.

Here is what she looks like then & Now;

 

Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer was born on December 13, 1929, in Toronto, Ontario and he is a great-grandson of John Abbott, who was Canada’s third Prime Minister (from 1891 to 1892). He has a rich heritage which includes English, Scottish, Northern Irish, and distant French-Canadian and Swiss-French, amongst his ancestry.

He speaks English and French fluently, from his bilingual upbringing in Senneville, Quebec. He is also the only actor from The Sound of Music to meet the real Maria Von Trapp in Vermont as a child.

He initially trained to become a concert pianist before turning his attention to acting.

He will likely always be remembered as “Captain Von Trapp” in the movie although he is reputed to have publicly despised the story until softening his stance in his autobiography “In Spite of Me” (2008).

Plummer never succeeded as a leading man in films. Perhaps if he had been born earlier, and acted in the studio system of Hollywood’s golden age, he could have been carefully groomed for stardom.

Plummer remains one of the most respected and honored actors performing in the English language. He has won two Emmy Awards out of six nominations stretching 46 years from 1959 and 2005, and one Genie Award in five nominations from 1980 to 2004. For his stage work, Plummer has racked up two Tony Awards on six nominations, the first in 1974 as Best Actor (Musical) for the title role in “Cyrano” and the second in 1997, as Best Actor (Play), in “Barrymore”.

At age 82, he is the oldest person to receive an Academy Award. At age 88, he became the oldest person ever to be nominated for an acting Academy Award for All the Money in the World (2017).

As it is, as attested to in his witty and well-written autobiography, Christopher Plummer has been amply rewarded in life. In 1970, Plummer – a self-confessed 43-year-old “bottle baby” – married his third wife, dancer Elaine Taylor, who helped wean him off his dependency on alcohol. They live happily with their dogs on a 30-acre estate in Weston, Connecticut. Although he spends the majority of his time in the United States, he remains a Canadian citizen.

He continues to be a very in-demand character actor in prestigious motion pictures. If he were English rather than Canadian, he would have been knighted long ago. If he lived in the company town of Los Angeles rather than in Connecticut, he likely would have several more Oscar nominations before winning his first for “The Last Station”(2009).

Here is what he looks like now;

Then

Now

I hope you find this short piece worthy of your time. If yes, please drop a comment.

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9 thoughts on “Memories from Childhood”

  1. It’s so heartbreaking how many of us in Africa and Nigeria in particular could not live exactly our dreams. The hustle to survive daily due to our economic disadvantages, often take tolls on our dreams.

    Some who were born with silver spoons could be exceptions, fortunately for them. But overall, we have a dream-killer of a society here in Africa. This sometimes bring tears into my eyes. And I am talking from personal experience and that of many I know. Very sad.

    Let me leave it at that.

    Thank you for sharing a beautiful story.

  2. Akin, thanks for this journey. Looking forward to the children who were summoned by the commanding whistle of their tough dad

  3. So…somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good….:-D

    My mum (in blessed sweet memory) introduced us to all the beautiful things that made us, including this precious movie . Whenever I acted stubborn, she would just sing in her alto voice “She is sixteen going on seventeen…” hahahaha.

    She also took us to music lessons. All I am is her. This movie brings up so many memories…I get extremely nostalgic. I looked them up years ago and they had a reunion some time ago. It was so wonderful seeing them ago.

    I have been having dreams of redoing the movie again in these modern times so our children can feel all the emotions we felt.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoy your blog immensely.

  4. Ibilola Famugbode

    This was one of my favorites from childhood.

    I remember how excited we would get whenever my dad would ask one of us to get the vhs tape from his room so we could watch it and how very quickly it was returned back to the “safe” (movie drawer in his room) for safe keeping when we were done watching it.

    It was definitely one of our priced possessions back then… Thanks for sharing.

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