‘Sound of Music’ actress Heather Menzies-Urich dies at 68

FILE PHOTO: Cast members Heather Menzies-Urich, Kym Karath and Debbie Turner pose during 50th anniversary screening of musical drama film
FILE PHOTO: Cast members Heather Menzies-Urich (L), Kym Karath (C), and Debbie Turner pose during 50th anniversary screening of musical drama film "The Sound of Music" at the opening night gala of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 26, 2015. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

December 27, 2017

(Corrects Dec. 25 story to say that Menzies-Urich played the third-oldest von Trapp child, not the oldest)

By Dave McNary

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Actress Heather Menzies-Urich, best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film “The Sound of Music,” died Sunday night in Frankford, Ontario. She was 68.

Menzies-Urich, the widow of actor Robert Urich, had been recently diagnosed with cancer, according to her son Ryan Urich.

Urich said his mother died on Christmas Eve, surrounded by her children and family members.

“She was an actress, a ballerina and loved living her life to the fullest,” Urich said. “She was not in any pain but, nearly four weeks after her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, she had enough and took her last breath on this earth at 7:22 pm.”

Born in Toronto, Menzies-Urich’s first screen credit came in the TV series “The Farmer’s Daughter” in 1964. She was then cast as the third-oldest of the seven von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music.” The film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was a box office smash that won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Kym Karath, who played Gretl, tweeted, “I am filled with infinite sadness.”

Ted Chapin, president and chief creative officer of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, praised Menzies-Urich’s efforts to keep the movie fresh for new generations.

“Heather was part of ‘the family.’ There is really no other way to describe the members of the cast of the movie of ‘The Sound of Music.’ And of ‘the kids,’ Heather was a cheerful and positive member of the group, always hoping for the next gathering,” Chapin said. “We are all lucky to have known her, and she will happily live on in that beautiful movie. We will miss her.”

Her other feature films credits included “Hawaii,” “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes,” “Piranha,” and “Endangered Species. Her TV credits included “Dragnet,” “Bonanza,” “Marcus Welby M.D.,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and starring as Jessica 6 in the TV series “Logan’s Run.”

Menzies-Urich’s family moved from Canada to the Los Angeles area when she was a teenager. She was 14 when she landed the part of Louisa in the landmark 20th Century Fox production, directed by Robert Wise, that starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Menzies-Urich met her future husband while filming a commercial for Libby’s Corned Beef Hash in the mid-1970s. Urich died in 2002 of a rare form of cancer. Menzies-Urich created the Robert Urich Foundation and spent most of her time in recent years to the organization that raises money for cancer research and support for cancer patients.

In addition to her son, Menzies-Urich is survived by two other children, numerous grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

  • Robert Adams

    Enough!. Yes, she played a memorable role, but she was only an actress, not a goddess.

    • Fidgets

      It’s not as if she was a goddess. She was simply an actress, but she was one that played a memorable role in a movie loved by many. Her passing is allowed to be noticed. Your mother should have taught you better manners, but here is one: if you don’t have anything nice to say spend your energy elsewhere. People do not need to be lectured because you couldn’t sod off on to subjects more to your liking.

  • Tado

    McCain outlived Heather.
    Long Live Arpaio.

  • PatrickJ

    Sadly, I don’t watch Hollywood movies anymore. Partly because they don’t make sense to me, but mostly because I don’t find them entertaining in the least. I haven’t been in a movie theatre in twenty years, probably longer. But I still remember the magic of what it used to be. I still have that memory.

    • Anonymous from LI in FL now

      this was an oldie but goodie!! A true classic Rodgers and Hammerstein and worth watching. Todays movies? Mostly Garbage but this was a great movie and memorable. Farewell Heather~

  • PatrickJ

    Lovely woman. Shows you that by remembering such a great actress that most of us belong to a generation that no longer exists. She was simply wonderful.

  • Deny

    First movie I ever saw in the theater was The Sound Of Music & still love it to this day. RIP Heather.

  • Fidgets

    Rest in Peace to this lovely actress. I have tickets to see Sound of Music in January, she will be in my thoughts as I watch.

  • Cat Mingus

    So sorry to hear this. However, one wrong item in this news story: Heather did not play the oldest of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. Charmian Carr played that character, named Liesl. Heather played the second oldest daughter, named Louisa. Wonderful role played well by Heather along with entire cast. Charming film.

    • PrincetonbytheSea

      Charmian Carr passed away in late 2016.

  • TexanForever

    A great actress, good songstress, and classy lady. RIP