As confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, Charmian Carr—best known for playing Liesl Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music—has died. Her family says she was suffering from “a rare form of dementia.” Carr was 73.
Though she had a major role in one of the most famous and beloved movies of all time, Charmian Carr didn’t actually spend much of her life in the film industry and hadn’t set out to become an actress. She was born Charmian Farnon in 1942 in Illinois, and she moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was 10. Carr did some modeling while in college, and one of the girls she worked with knew filmmaker Robert Wise. At the time, Wise was casting for his movie adaptation of The Sound Of Music, and—without telling anybody—Carr’s friend sent in her photo with a note that said she knew how to sing and dance (both of which were reportedly lies). That comes from a 1964 story in The Times Recorder, which says Carr got a call from Wise shortly after that inviting her to formally audition, and she ended up getting the part as Liesl, the eldest of the Van Trapp children.
After The Sound Of Music, Carr only had one other acting role—1966’s TV movie musical Evening Primrose—and then she retired from acting altogether. The Hollywood Reporter explains that she eventually started a design firm called Charmian Carr Design that “attracted Michael Jackson as a client.” She later wrote two books about her experience as Liesl, one about the making of The Sound Of Music and one about the fan mail she received over the years.
Carr is survived by her siblings Sharon, Darleen, Michael, and Brian, as well as her two daughters, a niece, and four grandchildren.