My mom has always been a big fan of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, which portrays the tale of the von Trapp family as a bold, passionate, flee-Nazis-in-the-night kind of love story. She enjoys it so much in fact, that she roped me into watching The Sound of Music Live! on NBC, along with 18.5 million others last December.
During commercial breaks, my mom was going on and on about how the musical was based on a true story and how incredible it was that the real Maria and Georg, madly in love, defied all odds and fled the Nazis, escaping to Switzerland by traversing the Alps in the middle of the night with their seven children, suitcases and instruments in tow.
I was curious about how much of the movie's plot was true and how much was fabricated by filmmakers. While most films based on true stories include a lot of embellishments, I was surprised to find out that a lot of key elements of The Sound of Music, including the great escape and centric love story, are false.
As my mom and I quickly discovered via the U.S. National Archives and Wikipedia, Maria was pretty much "meh" about Georg when he asked her to marry him, and they didn't flee through any mountains after performing for Nazis, they booked train tickets in advance and told everyone they planned to go to America to sing, "pretending nothing," the daughter, Maria von Trapp is quoted as saying.
Here are 6 not-so-fun facts about the reality behind the von Trapp family:
6. There were actually 10 von Trapp kids, not seven, and all of the names and genders were changed for the movie.
5. Georg, who is portrayed as a pretty big prick in the beginning of the film, was actually a warm and loving father who enjoyed singing with his children. Obviously the cold, villainesque angle works better for the movie, but his family was less than pleased by the characterization.
4. Despite the von Trapps escaping to Switzerland in the film, they actually went to Italy, because Mr. von Trapp and his children were Italian citizens. And again, they didn't get to Italy by fleeing through the Alps, they booked a train ahead of time (slightly less exciting).
3. Max Detweiler, played by Christian Borle in NBC's live version, the millionaire-obsessed music promoter, actually never existed. The von Trapps' musical director was their priest.
2. Maria was far from "breathless" when she looked at Georg. She honestly wasn't even that into him. According to her autobiography, she "really and truly was not in love." She was actually mad on their wedding day because she wanted to be a nun, but apparently she was told it was "God's will" for her to marry Georg, and so it was.
1. Lastly, turns out Maria was into more than kittens' whiskers, woolen mittens and packages tied up with strings. She was also into freaking the f*** out. The description of the real Maria von Trapp paints a picture more akin to Charlie Sheen than Julie Andrews. She apparently had fits of anger where she would yell, throw things and slam doors. Her stepdaughter was quoted as saying she had a "terrible temper. . . . From one moment to the next, you didn't know what hit her. [W]e took it like a thunderstorm that would pass."
So, Sound of Music lovers, sorry if your dreams are shattered. But don't worry, you can find new, better ones, by climbing every mountain, following every rainbow and fording every stream. Just kidding, that's probably all BS, too.