Sunday, January 20, 2008

Forever Liesl by Charmian Carr - Book Review

Forever Liesl: A Memoir of The Sound of Music
by Charmian Carr and Jean A.S. Strauss
Viking Penguin Books 2000

Charmian Carr's Website
Charmian Carr - Wikipedia
IMDB Sound of Music

Like most people I love The Sound of Music, I know all the words to all (well most) of the songs and I have my favourite child. So when I found this book on the shelf yesterday at the Goodwill shop, I snapped it up. And like everyone else, I too want to know what it was REALLY like on the set of The Sound of Music while it was being filmed.

Charmian Carr was 21 when she was cast in the Sound of Music to play a 16 year old teenage girl.

The Sound of Music was filmed in Los Angeles and Salzburg, Austria during 1964. I was born in 1964. My favourite songs are So Long Farewell, Do-Re-Mi and The Sound of Music (The Hills are alive). This book is Charmian's memories of the year, she and the other children spent in Los Angeles and Austria making the movie.

Even today - 40 years later - Charmian still keeps in touch with her co-stars. It is unusual that none of the children from this movie have been involved with drugs or died (committed suicide) due to their fame as a "child actor". I think that says a lot for the "family" feeling that they developed amongst themselves, and that they could call on each other if they ever needed any personal help.

Charmian (pronounced Shar_me_an, NOT Shar_mane) answers a number of questions such as the following.

What was Julie Andrews really like? (she was wonderful, a good friend and still professional)

What was Christopher Plummer really like? (he was somewhat distant - he only agreed to do the movie so that he could sing - but his song Edelweiss eventually had to be dubbed.)

Did everyone do his or her own singing? (All the children did, yes, but several other childrens voices were added just to add strength. These extra children were uncredited. One of them was Darleen Carr - Charmian's younger sister)

Who gained so much weight that in one scene she required a body double? (Hint: It wasn't Charmian.) The youngest child Kym Karath who played Gretl. By the time the mountain scenes (at the end) were filmed, Kym had grown taller and weighed quite a bit more, so Christopher Plummer had trouble carrying her on his back while they were walking over the mountains to freedom. In the distance shots, the blonde girl on Christopher's back was a double who weighed a lot less).

Why did Charmian leave motherhood and start a new career in interior design? (After her marriage fell apart - because her husband of 24 years resented the fact that he was ignored and fans always only ever wanted to speak to "Liesl" - Charmian turned to interior design because they reminded her of the old architecture of Austria.).

What was Charmian's real surname? Farnon - her father was Canadian music conductor Brian Farnon. Darleen was also born Darleen Farnon, and later changed her name to Carr as well.

And Charmian also tells the REAL story of the Von Trapp family. Yes they were real singers, and yes the Captain did marry the Governess, but not right before the Anschluss. In fact Maria married the Captain in 1926, and they had 2 daughters born in Austria before the Anschluss occurred. The youngest von Trapp son (Johannes) was born in America in 1939 after the family fled Austria and arrived in USA. Did you know that the REAL eldest Von Trapp child was a boy? His name was Rupert. The second child was the eldest daughter Agathe.

I stayed up until 1 oclock this morning reading this book. I LOVED it. If you want to know the real story of the making of the Sound of Music, then this is the book to read. Oh yes, and I read this for the Memoirs "In their Shoes" Challenge.

One last trivia question - Do you know where the name Charmian comes from?
Charmian was a character in William Shakespeare's play - Anthony and Cleopatra. She was one of Cleopatra's servants.

1 comment:

Carrie K said...

I read Maria Von Trapp's book eons ago and typical movie adaption, they changed so much. I'll have to check out Charmian's book.