Who did she play in The Sound of Music?
Kym Karath was the child star in The Sound of Music. She was five years old when she auditioned for the part and was remembered for carrying into the room an enormous book of photographs saying:
“I’m here to interview for the part of the youngest child. I can sing and dance and have lots of acting experience. I’m perfect for the part!”
She had already memorized the whole score before the audition. This, and the fact that she was so self-assured helped her to win the role of Gretl, the youngest von Trapp child.
“We had a great time, but I didn’t really like being the youngest. I couldn’t stay up late at night. I was the baby and there was no denying it. It was a great source of humiliation.”
Kym felt that she missed out on a lot of fun that her movie siblings were having, but she does have good memories of playing rummy with the Nazis in between filming. She was described as ‘a five year old going on forty-two’.
Probably the most frightening scene for Kym Karath was when they were filming the children and Maria in the boat. This could, potentially, have been serious, as Kym could not swim. So when the boat tipped over Julie Andrews was supposed to catch her, however during filming, Julie fell one side of the boat and Kym fell the other. Alan Callow (Kym’s future brother-in-law) was the one who jumped in and saved her from drowning. Kym was then sick all over Heather Menzies! It was something that Julie felt guilty about for years.
Whilst the cast were in Austria, Kym would not eat the Austrian food and lived on bananas, rolls and fried artichokes, this, and the fact that she was growing made her a bit heavier than at the start of filming. When the von Trapp family hiked over the mountains to escape, Kym was not in this scene. Instead Christopher Plummer asked for her lighter double to play that part as he had to carry her on his shoulders!
Kym Karath was not yet six, and under Californian law, she could only work for four hours a day. Every time she needed the bathroom, her mother had to go with her. Kym remembers her sixth birthday as being one of the happiest times during filming.
“Oh thank God. Now I can finally go to the bathroom by myself!”
Gretl remains a large part of Kym’s identity even today, as it has touched so many people. However she does not tell those she meets that she was in the film, but she says “somehow people find out eventually!”
Before The Sound of Music
Kym Karath was born on August 4th 1958 in Los Angeles, California, to a Greek family. Her real name is Kimberly Karathanasis, but that was shortened when she went into acting.
She started acting when she was three years old, performing as Pattie-Cake Spencer in Spencer's Mountain in 1963, (acting alongside Angela Cartwright’s older sister). She then had the part of Maggie Boyer in The Thrill of It All (1963) and as Denise Bissel in Good Neighbor Sam in 1964.
After The Sound of Music
Kym Karath continued an acting career after The Sound of Music, and starred in the following :
Peyton Place (1965) as Susan
My Three Sons (1965) as Pammy
Dr. Kildare (1966)
Lassie (1966) as Kathy Vaughn
Lost in Space (1966) as Princess Acted alongside Angela Cartwright
All My Children (1970) as Kristen
Family Affair (1966-1971) as Barbara (see photo right)
The Brady Bunch (1972) as Kerry
The Waltons (1973) as Mabel
Archie Bunker's Place (1980) as Pretty Girl
Midnight Offerings (1981) as Monique
She then said that she had taken too many ‘dumb blond roles’, so instead she decided to concentrate on getting a degree in Humanities, and graduated from the University of Southern California. She then moved to Paris to study at the Art History School of the Louvre and to carry out some modelling. Here she met her husband, banker Philippe l’Equilbec, marrying in 1985. They had one son, Eric in 1991 and Heather Menzies (Louisa in The Sound of Music) is his Godmother.
Kym has since spent time at home raising her son, and is now living back in America where she is resuming her acting career.
She is still asked to appear at special viewings of The Sound of Music and can be seen here at the 40th anniversary special edition DVD cast reunion on November 10th 2005 in New York City.
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