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'Sound of Music' children reunited

LONDON, England -- Thirty five years after bidding each other "So Long, Farewell", the child actors who shot to fame in 'The Sound of Music' have been reunited.

The stars of the Oscar-winning classic -- described as the most popular musical film of all time -- returned to Salzburg together for the first time for a British TV documentary.

The Yorkshire Television programme recalls the making of the cult musical, based on the true story of the von Trapp family, who formed a singing troupe and escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria.

The seven child actors, who were aged between five and 21 when they last saw each other, reflect on the different directions their lives have taken -- from posing nude in Playboy to starring in 'Spiderman' and designing Michael Jackson's bedroom.

They reveal that at first they found it difficult to create identities away from their roles and felt some bitterness over the slim rewards they received for appearing in such a huge moneyspinner.

Nine months after it opened, 'The Sound of Music' had been the box office number one for 30 out of 43 weeks and had already taken $50 million -- more than double the $20 million it cost to produce and market.

But in the documentary, shown on Wednesday night, the actors say they are now proud of the roles that earned them a place in movie history.

Different directions

Charmian Carr was 21 and way past "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" when chosen to play Liesl.

At 57, she has written about her memories in 'Forever Liesl' and runs her own interior design business. Among her clients was Michael Jackson.

She reveals in the programme how she and the reclusive superstar bought 17 mannequins that he wanted for his bedroom.

"They are unbelievably real and it's so weird," she said.

Nicholas Hammond, who grew six inches during filming, went onto further fame as 'Spiderman' and now lives in Australia.

He said: "The world will always think of me as Friedrich von Trapp whether I want them to or not."

Heather Menzies, a Canadian ballet student who played Louisa, later posed nude for Playboy as 'The Tender Trapp.'

Now happily married to American actor Robert Urich, she said: "The trip (back to Austria) made me realise what fun it was to do."

Duane Chase, who played Kurt, quit films and now designs computer software for geologists.

"I just decided I wanted to do other things," he explains.

Angela Cartwright was already a child star when she landed the role of Brigitta. Now she is a photographer and runs a gift boutique on the Internet.

Debbie Turner, who played seven-year-old Marta, became a ski racer and now runs her own floral design business.

The baby of the bunch, Kym Karath, was just five when she was chosen for the role of Gretl. She still works as an actress in New York.

The documentary's producer Judith Holder is convinced the reunion was cathartic for the cast.

"They all said that not only was it a one-off, it was the beginning of the process of saying goodbye to the film -- and their childhoods," she said.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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