Who did she play in The Sound of Music?
Debbie Turner played the second youngest von Trapp daughter, Marta, in The Sound of Music movie. Everyone remembers the adorable little girl who had her dark hair put up in braided buns. The producers took to Debbie so much that they gave her the part virtually straight away.
Although Debbie impressed Robert Wise at her audition, she caused him some grief during filming…… firstly, Debbie fell through one of his screens that was used to soften the background. She said;
“I fell through it and put a body-sized hole in it. I don’t think he ever forgave me”
Secondly, Debbie suffered from many loose teeth whilst making the movie, in fact she actually lost her front teeth and had to wear false ones when in front of the camera!
Debbie Turner sang her songs herself, without any need for dubbing. They were recorded before she left for Austria, however during the scene when Maria is teaching the von Trapp children to sing in her bedroom, something very amusing happens. Maria is teaching them 'My Favorite Things', a song that they do not know, however when Maria starts to sing, Debbie starts to mouth the words along with her! Look out for this scene the next time you watch The Sound of Music!
Debbie Turner was six years old when she auditioned for the part, but was seven when she played Marta.
I personally feel that she played her role beautifully. Debbie says that she performed as instructed by Robert Wise, but is pleased that she has given so much pleasure to so many people.
“Little did we know that over four decades this movie would still be playing for audiences of new generations and that we would still share the chemistry and friendship that brought us together so many years ago. I consider my film sisters and brothers my ‘other family’” - Debbie Turner
Before The Sound of Music
Debbie Turner was born Debra Turner, on September 5th 1956 in Arcadia, Los Angeles, California. Her mother, a master gardener and an incredible cook and her father, an independent real estate agent, moved to Arcadia for health reasons. Here they raised Debbie, her two older sisters Patricia and Michelle Turner and her younger brother Kel. All of them have been involved in TV shows and commercials and from six months old Debbie appeared in various advertisements for Mattel Toys.
After The Sound of Music
After making The Sound of Music, Debbie went into modeling and filming more commercials in Los Angeles. She had a small part as a party guest in the movie North Dallas Forty in 1979. However she decided to give up acting and pursue another career.
Debbie started off working as a mortgage banker, but said “I’m not really an office kind of girl”, so she decided to study interior design and photography in Newport Beach.
She met her husband Rick Larson, of Norwegian descent, at a ski resort and they married in 1980. He is an aircraft mechanical engineer and in 1985 they moved to Chanhassen, Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they are bringing up their four daughters, Brooke, Jamie, Angela and Kate.
Debbie still keeps in touch with her movie 'siblings', and regards them as her other family. She is seen in the photo on the right with Heather Menzies and Angela Cartwright either side of her.
She started her own floral design company in 1989, calling it Debbie Turner Originals, and was very pleased to be selected as 'Preferred Florist' for the Republican National Convention in 2008. She was also pleased to design the wedding flowers for the daughter of her good friend, Heather Menzies Urich (Louisa in The Sound of Music). Debbie Turner presently employs 8-10 members of staff who work out of a studio at her home. She says:
“We’re a small company that does very large things”
In fact their motto at work is ‘exquisite floral for the sophisticated taste’.
Debbie also makes original Santa Claus dolls, sculpturing the faces herself. She says that her inspiration comes from family, friends and acquaintances.
“I was very close to my Dad and although it is not consciously deliberate, many of the Santa Clauses resemble him in some way. He had a great sense of humor, a twinkle in his eyes and a contagious belly laugh.”
When Debbie and Rick go back to Norway on holiday, Debbie is always looking out for pewter belts, buckles and buttons for her Father Christmas’. When she returned to Salzburg, she bought buttons made from antlers, decorated with edelweiss to use on her dolls.
For Santa’s beards she uses mountain goat wool from Montana, and says it is her dream that her work will reach collectors around the world. One day she says she would love to make a personalized Santa and Mrs Claus for the President and First Lady.
For the moment though, I am pleased that she is still dedicating much of her time on what made her world famous………..she is writing a book, sharing all her behind-the-scenes experiences when filming The Sound of Music. The photo on the right shows Debbie with Richard Haydn (Max) on the movie set.
“I am working diligently on my ‘childhood through the present’ memoirs of The Sound of Music” - Debbie Turner
I am really looking forward to reading this book and will make sure you know about it when it is available!
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