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20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'

It's the 50th anniversary of the Best Picture winner of 1965.

Fox

With too many iconic songs to count and a legion of fans worldwide, The Sound of Music sees its 50th anniversary this year. It's been a half-century since free-spirited Maria visited the Von Trapp villa and changed the family's lives forever. And how many other lives has she changed for the better along the way? 

The Sound of Music won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1965 while breaking box office records and supplanting Gone With the Wind as the highest-grossing film of all time. But those are the facts you're probably familiar with. Let's look a little deeper into the movie to celebrate this landmark anniversary:

1. The Sound of Music and the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of the same name are based on Maria Von Trapp's 1949 memoir The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers. But the author missed the film premiere, stating "When I didn't hear anything about it and no invitation arrived, I really humbled myself to go and ask the producer whether I would be allowed to come. He said he was very sorry, indeed, but there were no seats left." 

2. Julie Andrews nearly turned down the role of Maria Von Trapp, fearing the character was too similar to her role in Mary Poppins, which she had just finished shooting.

3. But Andrews did sing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" to the children on set to entertain them between takes. Since Mary Poppins hadn't been released yet, they thought she'd made the song up just for them.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
Fox

4. Georg Ludwig von Trapp, played by Christopher Plummer, was indeed against the Nazi regime and he lived with his family in Aigen. But it bore little resemblance to the lavish estate in the film. The house that was used as the Von Trapp home was actually owned by actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr.

5. Plummer knew little about the real Captain von Trapp so the actor took to the Salzburg mountains with an interpreter. There, they met with Georg's nephew and asked him what the real man was like. The nephew told them he was the most boring man he'd ever met.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
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6. According to his children, Von Trapp was not stern. The family was so upset by the portrayal of their father in the film, Maria von Trapp requested that director Robert Wise soften the character of her husband, but Wise refused.

7. Grace Kelly was considered for the part of the Baroness. However, she had retired from acting when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and was not open to offers to return to her former profession.

8. The Sound of Music was not shown inside Germanic Europe upon its release due to its historical inaccuracy, especially in its depictions of the Austrian Anschluss and the Nazi Party. Native Austrian Hedy Lamarr warned the 20th Century Fox not to show it because she worried about the public reaction, especially among men. But the studio ignored her. Later, other famous European entertainers rejected the film, including: Peter Lorre, Marlene Dietrich, Eva Gabor, Billy Wilder, Audrey Hepburn, Werner Klemperer, John Banner, Fritz Lang, Karl Freund, Robert Clary and Erich Pommer. It's what caused the studio to pull the film from cinemas six months before they intended to, costing them financially.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
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9. Charmian Carr who played Liesl and was 21 at the time, wrote in her autobiography she was attracted to the then 35-year-old Plummer, her father in the film. The actor admitted the feeling was mutual, but insists it didn't go beyond flirtation.

10. Plummer admitted on the Sound of Music DVD commentary that he was drunk during the shooting of the music festival sequence. He intensely disliked working on the film. He's been known to refer to it as The Sound of Mucus or S&M, and likened working with Andrews to "being hit over the head with a big Valentine's Day card every day." He also admitted he ate and drank heavily during filming to drown out his unhappiness making the movie, and found plenty of opportunities to do both in Austria. His costume eventually had to be refitted for his extra weight.

11. When Maria is running through the courtyard to the Von Trapp house in "I Have Confidence," she trips. This was an accident. However, Wise liked it so much he kept it in the movie.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
Fox

12. During the scene with Maria and the Captain at the gazebo, Andrews couldn't stop laughing due to a lighting device that was making, in her words, a "raspberry" every time she leaned in to kiss Plummer. After more than twenty takes, the scene was altered to silhouette the two and to hide Andrews' giggles.

13. Kym Karath (Gretl) couldn't swim, so the original idea was to get Andrews to catch her when the boat tips up and they all fall in the water. However, during the second take the boat toppled over so that Andrews fell to one side and Karath fell to the other. Heather Menzies-Urich (Louisa) had to save her instead. Andrews stated later she felt guilty about this for years.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
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14. Both Andrews and Plummer learned to play the guitar for the film.

15. Debbie Turner (Marta) had many loose teeth during filming. When they fell out, they were replaced with false ones.

16. While the von Trapp family hiked over the Alps to Switzerland in the movie, in reality, they walked to the local station and boarded the next train to Italy. From there, they fled to London and ultimately the USA. Salzburg is, in fact, only a few miles away from the Austrian-German border, and is much too far from either the Swiss or Italian borders for a family to escape by walking. Had the von Trapps hiked over the mountains, they would have ended up in Germany, near Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat.

17. After the Von Trapps fled Austria, their home was taken over by Heinrich Himmler, one of the key players of the Nazi party. Adolf Hitler personally visited several times.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
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18. William Wyler was originally tapped to direct the film (he dropped out to direct The Collector) and he met with Maria von Trapp and the mayor of Salzburg, where the film is set. Wyler was concerned that the local residents would be alarmed at seeing their buildings draped with swastikas and stormtroopers in the streets only twenty-five years after the real thing had taken place. The mayor assured him that the residents had managed to live through the Anschluss the first time and they would survive it again. 

19. Wyler's replacement, Wise, didn't get along with Maria von Trapp when she came to the set, saying she was bossy.

20. When the film was released in South Korea, it did so much business that some theaters were showing it four and five times a day. One theater owner in Seoul figured out a way to show it more than that: He cut out all the musical numbers.

20 Things You Didn't Know About 'The Sound of Music'
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