Heather Menzies -
Louisa von Trapp
In The Sound of Music.
At the age of fourteen, Heather Menzies starred as Louisa von Trapp, the third eldest child of the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music movie. This was the second of many film and television roles that Heather went on to have. She later described her audition for The Sound of Music as
“Some movie being filmed in Australia, starring Julie Harris”
She initially had no desire to go into acting, but instead wanted to be a dancer. It was at one of her ballet recitals that an agent saw her, and with very little acting or singing experience she auditioned.
“I had to stand in front of a piano and sing a song I had prepared. I had never had a singing audition and I have never had one since. It was awful.”
Louisa showed a mischievous side in the movie. Her first line was “I’m Brigitta”, deliberately trying to confuse the newly appointed governess. When Maria asked the children for help in how to be a governess, Louisa replies “The first thing is to tell father to mind his own business!”
Of course all the children were at an age where they were continually growing and Heather remembers being three inches taller than Nicholas Hammond at the start of filming. He had to wear heel lifts to make him look taller. By the end, Nicholas had grown a full six inches, which meant Charmian Carr, the oldest von Trapp child, had to stand on a box!
During their stay in Salzburg, the children were keen to play tricks on unsuspecting guests. They would throw wet tissues out of their hotel windows onto tourists below, and they would also mix up the guests shoes that had been left outside their rooms to be polished.
“All seven of us would creep out later, take the shoes, and swap them all around, often taking someone’s shoes right to the other side of the hotel”
Heather had always been a shy child, but during filming Heather and Angela Cartwright, who played Brigitta, became inseparable. Possibly this friendship was helped with them both being ardent fans of the Beatles! They are still very good friends to this day.
Heather has learned to accept being a von Trapp child, and has likened it to being ‘members of a private club.’
Before The Sound of Music
Heather Menzies was born on December 3rd 1949, in Toronto, Canada. Her parents who were strict Presbyterians, moved from Scotland to Canada after the Second World War. She moved to Florida and then on to California when she was eleven years old, where she went to the Falcon Studio’s University of the Arts, in Hollywood. She made her screen debut in 1963, at the age of thirteen, in My Three Sons, and was followed the next year by The Sound of Music.
After The Sound of Music
Heather married her first husband in 1969 which lasted until 1973. She then married actor Robert Urich in 1975 whom she met whilst filming a corned beef hash commercial. They had three children, Ryan, Emily and Allison. Urich was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called synovial cell sarcoma, which attacks the tissues around the joints. He passed away in 2002. Heather Menzies Urich now works tirelessly for the Robert and Heather Urich Foundation for Sarcoma Research, at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has herself survived ovarian cancer, and currently lives in Los Angeles.
After The Sound of Music, Heather worked again with Julie Andrews at the age of sixteen in the film Hawaii. She starred in many other films and television shows which included:
The Sound of Music (1965)
How Sweet It Is! (1968)
Hail, Hero! (1969)
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)
Red, White and Busted (1975)
Endangered Species (1982)
"My Three Sons" (1963)
"The Farmer's Daughter" (1964)
"Dragnet" (1967) as Ann Flynn
"Marcus Welby, M.D." (1969)
"The High Chaparral" (1969)
"To Rome With Love" (1970)
"The Smith Family" (1971)
"Alias Smith and Jones" (1971)
"Love, American Style" (1971) Segment: "Love and the Motel Mixup"
"Man in the Middle" (1972)
"The Bob Newhart Show" (1973)
"Doctor Dan" (1974)
"James Dean" (1976)
"Barnaby Jones" (1976)
"Logan's Run" (1977-1978) as Jessica (see photo right)
"The Love Boat" (1978)
"Captain America" (1979)
"Vega$" (1979-1981) as Charlotte Henderson
"T.J. Hooker" (1984)
"Spenser: For Hire" (1987)
In the 1970’s Heather tried to change her image after The Sound of Music and played ‘sexy roles with a minimum of clothing.’ There was even a Heather Menzies nude photo shoot for Playboy magazine in August 1973.
“Naively, I thought it would help me move on from The Sound of Music, but of course, the magazine made a big deal out of me being a former von Trapp.” Heather Menzies
She is also Godmother to Eric, the son of Kym Karath (who played Gretl in The Sound of Music). Surprisingly, Kim and Heather are still very good friends, even though Kym was sick all over Heather after the eventful filming of the boat scene where Kym swallowed too much water!
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