New generation of von Trapps embrace Sound of Music legacy

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The Sound of Music may have immortalised the von Trapps as a cheerful and harmonious brood but for years the real-life family was plagued by sibling discord over their alpine ski lodge in the mountains of Vermont.

Now, however, the US-born grandson of Maria, the singing governess played by Julie Andrews, is persuading his family to embrace a film that many relatives have long viewed as more of a curse than a blessing.

Sam von Trapp, 36, a dashing former Ralph Lauren model who once appeared on People magazine's most eligible bachelors list and has just taken over the family business, starred in a television commercial advertising the 2,400-acre resort during last week's annual US broadcast of the 1965 film. It was the first time the Trapp Family Lodge had been promoted directly on the back of the film.

Sam intends to bring back family sing-alongs at the lodge later this year. And he is in talks with two television production companies about a possible reality show based at the lodge. The idea of a"Maria Idol" would probably have horrified the family matriarch, a much stricter and more domineering figure than the saintly character portrayed by Andrews, but he insists any programme would be"tastefully done".

The family has never directly profited from the film or musical; Maria sold the rights to the family story to a German film company in the mid-1950s for $9,000. But for decades they have run the cross-country skiing lodge and resort that trades on the family name, where waitresses in dirndls serve Austrian food.

Sam's enthusiasm for the Sound of Music legacy is overcoming the reticence of his father, Johannes, 69, Maria's youngest child and the lodge's general manager....

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