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But the real-life Maria could hardly have been more different.
Instead of the film’s scatty, wide-eyed girl who sang about whiskers on kittens, Maria was domineering and prone to rages. A difficult Austrian childhood left her with, in the words of her son Johannes, “insecurities that plagued her all of her life”.
She became very strong.” Millions of people have watched the screen version of Maria’s amazing story. She ran away to Vienna in her teens and by 19 she had found God.
How she left a convent to become a governess, married her boss and fled with the children to escape the Nazis. She enrolled in a Benedictine convent in Salzberg, then went to take a job as governess at the home of widowed Baron Georg von Trapp, a retired navy captain.
In fact, her life was incredible from the moment she was born Maria Kutschera in 1905 – on a train and delivered by the conductor. Johannes, who still runs the hotel the family opened in Vermont, USA, says: “My mother was absolutely unsuited for a contemplative life in the abbey and I suspect the nuns were happy when the position she took opened up in our father’s house.” What followed inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical then the Oscar-winning film.
The Sound of Music came out 50 years ago and held millions of cinema goers spellbound.
Julie Andrews warbling her way across the mountains in the role of Maria von Trapp remains one of the silver screen’s iconic images.
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In a new book, The Sound of Music Story by Tom Santopietro, Johannes, 75, recalls: “She was a complex person, incredibly strong with a formidable will, literally an indomitable will.
“And sometimes running into that will was not so pleasant. Someone with her background either becomes a very strong person or becomes a homeless person.