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Maria von Trapp, last of famous singing siblings, dies at 99

By Lawrence Crook III, CNN
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maria von Trapp dies at 99 in Vermont
  • She was one of the original family singers
  • Her father, stepmother left Austria before WWII
  • Story made famous by "The Sound of Music"

(CNN) -- Maria von Trapp, the last of the singing children immortalized in the movie musical "The Sound of Music," died at her Vermont home of natural causes, her half-brother told CNN on Saturday.

The native of Austria was 99 and lived in Stowe. She died Tuesday.

Maria von Trapp was the third-oldest child of Agathe Whitehead and Capt. Georg von Trapp. The couple had seven children: Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina.

Georg von Trapp's second wife, Maria Kutschera von Trapp, wrote a book titled "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers," which sparked two German-made movies and "The Sound of Music."

The Trapp Family Singers rehearse in 1946. Maria von Trapp, who died Tuesday, is third from left.
The Trapp Family Singers rehearse in 1946. Maria von Trapp, who died Tuesday, is third from left.

In 1959, the play "The Sound of Music" opened on Broadway. Julie Andrews, in arguably her most famous role, played the part of Georg's wife, Maria, in the 1965 film. Christopher Plummer played Baron von Trapp. The movie won five Academy Awards, including best picture.

Johannes, the youngest son of Maria and Georg von Trapp, issued a statement following his sister's passing: "Thank you for your thoughts. Maria had a wonderful life and while we will miss her, the memories of her will live on," Johannes wrote.

Maria von Trapp later in life served as a lay missionary in Papua, New Guinea. She never married.

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Both of Maria's parents were talented musicians. Agathe played the violin and the piano while her father played the violin, accordion and mandolin.

"Sometimes our house must have sounded like a musical conservatory. You could hear us practice piano, violin, guitar, cello, clarinet, accordion, and later, recorders. We would gather in the evenings to play Viennese folksongs on our instruments with Father leading on the violin," Maria wrote in her autobiography found on the Trapp Family Lodge's website.

Agathe von Trapp died of scarlet fever in 1922. Maria also suffered from the disease and needed to be tutored at home as a result. That teacher, Maria, would eventually marry Georg in 1927.

The couple would go on to have three more children: Rosmarie, Eleonore and Johannes. The Trapps fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and moved to the United States.

The Trapp family, after traveling the world, purchased a 27-room family home in Stowe in 1950.

Thirty years later, the building was destroyed in a fire, then rebuilt into the Trapp Family Lodge. The property is still owned and operated by remaining members of the Trapp family, according to the lodge's website.

The elder Maria von Trapp died in 1987.

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