Aug. 07--The kids in "The Sound of Music" may have performed songs like "Edelweiss" and "Do-Re-Me" in that 1965 movie classic.
But when the cameras weren't rolling, Heather Menzies and Angela Cartwright, the children who played sisters Louisa and Brigitta Von Trapp, regaled their fellow cast members with Beatles songs and more.
"We were Beatle fanatics," Cartwright said in a telephone interview. "We used to drive everybody crazy on the set with our Beatle-isms."
That was in 1964, the year the Beatles first came to America and changed pop music and pop culture forever.
Flash forward to today, when
Cartwright, 60, will discuss her experiences at a showing of "The Sound of Music" at 6:30 p.m. today at the Plaza Theatre, part of the El Paso Community Foundation's sixth Plaza Classic Film Festival.
"The Sound of Music," based on a Broadway musical, is the somewhat true account of the Von Trapp family -- a strict, widower father (Christopher Plummer), his seven kids, the nanny he falls in love with (Julie Andrews) and their escape from Austria during the Nazi occupation.
It features a breakout performance by a then-unknown Andrews and songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein that have become staples, including "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Do-Re-Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "My
"To me, it's one of the last of Hollywood's big golden-age films," said Charles Horak, the festival's artistic director.
"It's charming, it's got great songs ... and the cinematography is amazing," he added, noting that some of it was shot in the Alps in Austria.
It's also a movie that has endured, despite early criticisms that it was too saccharine.
It was a box-office hit, but "The Sound of Music" continues to resonate with audiences, given jolts of energy with annual runs on NBC and now ABC, home video and a singalong version that has been making the rounds since the late 1990s.
Cartwright, who played Penny on the cheesy '60s sci-fi show "Lost in Space," attends one of those annual singalongs at the Hollywood Bowl and takes part in various events that celebrate the movie, noting that she's "seen this movie thousands of times and I still love to watch it."
"Even though it had a bad rap and is supposed to be all syrupy, with kids and music and stuff, it's really held up," Cartwright said.
She credits its enduring popularity to "the amazing music," its strong "family aspect" and a range of characters that appeals to various age groups.
"Of course, living in a beautiful place with a lake at the back of your house isn't so bad either," she said, laughing.
Horak adds that Andrews' performance as Maria, the nanny who cares for Capt. Von Trapp's brood, as a big part of that appeal, too.
"Julie Andrews is just so good, so pure, you just root for her the way she turns those kids around. She's totally endearing," he said.
Cartwright said Andrews, 87, is "always so gracious and so lovely," qualities she believes came across on and off the screen.
"We adored her when we were making the movie. She was so lovely and caring," Cartwright said. "It really shows in the movie."
The surviving cast members stay in touch, especially the seven actors who played the Von Trapp kids. They contributed to "The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook," which Cartwright assembled with fellow Beatles fan Menzies, now 63.
"We just pick up like family," she said. "It's just bizarre, but we do all care about each other and we stay in contact by email and phone."
Cartwright and her older sister, Veronica Cartwright, got their starts "completely by accident" when a neighbor introduced their parents to a Hollywood talent agent.
Angela Cartwright made her movie debut at age 3, playing Paul Newman's daughter in "Somebody Up There Likes Me."
She was 5 when she started a seven-year run as Danny Thomas' daughter on the TV show "Make Room for Daddy."
She followed "The Sound of Music" with TV's "Lost in Space" from 1965-68. It still has a devoted following. Cartwright remembers a cast visit to NASA, where the staff said, "'Lost in Space' inspired them to follow a career in space exploration."
Cartwright left acting to be a wife, mother of two kids and pursue her love of photography. She has a website for her art, acartwrightstudio.com, and another for her "showbiz" career, angela-cartwright.com,
Her kids have performed in school productions of "The Sound of Music." But reading lines with her sister is as close to acting as she gets these days.
"I never felt that drive to pursue acting again," Cartwright said, "even though I'm still open to it."
Doug Pullen may be reached at 546-6397.
What: "The Sound of Music," with Angela Cartwright.
When: 6:30 p.m. today.
Where: Plaza Classic Film Festival, Plaza Theatre.
How much: $10, at the box office, Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.
Information: 533-4020, plazaclassic.com.
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