Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More on The Sound of Music and The Academy Awards of 1973

In my last blog, I spoke about The Sound of Music benefit, which celebrated the re-release of that picture in theaters all over the country. This benefit was also the public reunion of Julie Andrews and the young actors who played the Von Trapp children in the film. The year 1973 was approximately eight years after the film was made. A week after the benefit, to advertise the re-release of the film, portions of this event were televised, along with an interview Julie Andrews gave on the “Getting to Know You” set of The Julie Andrews Hour. At that time, I commented:

 They interviewed the “children.” Charmian Carr (Liesl) has a three year-old and another child coming in a few months. When the youngest girl, Kym Karath (Gretl) spoke, sometimes I could see the little girl she once was in her facial expression and her voice. She said she liked making the movie, singing “Do-Re-Me,” dancing and playing for three months in the Alps.

Then, they interviewed Julie. She seemed a bit nervous and uncomfortable being interviewed outside the planned acting of the show. She rested her head on her hand and stared off into space, her eyes moving as she thought about the answers to the questions. She seldom looked at the interviewer. When he asked her why she thought the movie was such a big success, she said she thought it had something to do with the fact that there were children in the film. She also thought it was because of the singing and that the film was surrounded by such a happy feeling. They didn’t know they would have such a big hit when they made the film, Julie explained.

Julie told the interviewer that for a while she had written to a couple of the girls, but then, suddenly things had changed and the correspondence dropped off. She said she was afraid to see how tall the littlest girl (Kym) would be now.  Finally, she commented that she was looking forward to seeing the movie again and hoped it would seem as good as it had when it came out.

Julie looked lovely, though her face seemed much thinner than when I last saw her. She did seem happy about The Sound of Music coming out again, but unsure as to whether she wanted to watch herself.  In the interview after the premiere, the “children” said the film seemed much better now than when they first saw it. They also said that they often had picnics and parties to get together.

I also learned that Julie’s new book will be out in September (1973). She said she likes to work when she’s not working. It’s good discipline for her every day.

March 27th was the date for the Academy Awards and most important to me, Liza Minnelli was up for an Oscar for her role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I also hoped I might see Julie Andrews on the show. 

That evening, a bunch of girls from International house piled into our small kitchen/ where there was a sofa, table and chairs and most importantly a little 12 inch black and white television on which we would watch the Academy Awards. Everyone was rooting for Liza, which was exciting for me as well. All my life I’d loved old stars and music, things many of my peers were not interested in, but almost everyone was interested in Liza and Cabaret.

After the ceremony began, at one point someone was reading cue cards with jokes. Apparently, there was a joke about Noel Coward and the star said, “I hope you won’t mind if I leave that out, because Noel Coward died yesterday.”

That was sad. My roommate Lynn had given me the news earlier in the day and I had to leave the room because I felt so sad and tearful. I couldn’t help remembering the show where Julie paid tribute to his music. He was born with “a talent to amuse” as he wrote in a song.

This was also the year that Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor. But instead of accepting the award, he sent a young Native American woman to refuse it. The audience booed as the woman read his statement, announcing that he wouldn’t accept the award because of the way the American Indian has been treated. The woman was ready to cry, but delivered the message anyway.

When it came time for Best Actress, they showed a short bio of each actress. For Liza, they began by showing her three year-old debut in The Good Old Summertime. Just as it was time for them to announce the winner, Liza, who was sitting between her father, director Vincente Minnelli, and her then fiancé, Desi Arnaz, Jr, smoothed the back of her hair, with a sort of nervous movement. Then, the announcement was made,

“And the winner is…..”

We all waited breathlessly until we heard, “… Liza Minnelli!”

I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I was aware that everyone in the room was screaming, clapping and jumping up and down. “She won!”

I was crying. Liza kissed her father and then went up to accept her award.  She thanked Bob Fosse and said, “I want to thank the Academy for giving this award to me.”

I had never really thought she would get it and now the room was filled with joy. We watched the end of the show as everyone, including Liza and Joel, got on stage and sang, “You Ought to Be in Pictures.” Then, suddenly, I saw Julie walk right into the camera. She stood in such a way that just the end of her gown showed on the television screen until the end of the show. I screamed and jumped up and down! What a night!

As it turned out, I later learned that Julie, who presented the director’s award, had trouble with this gown. It had a long white ruffled train (almost a bustle) which made it almost impossible for her to sit down during the show.

The next day when I went to my singing lesson with Mr. Loring, we spoke about Liza. He thought she was the best dressed woman there. Then, he told me, “You should have more authority in your attitude, as if to say: “You’re going to like me” rather than, “I hope you like me.” 


  1. I love that we both have loved old stars and old music, Michelle! I used to feel as though I was born in the wrong era and wrong family! :)
    I disagree with your Mr Loring's comment. It is good to walk in a room with confidence in one's self, but the moment I sense someone who has "attitude", it turns me right off. There is a difference between confidence and being snobbish, know what I mean? Some celebs have that snobbish "air".

  2. Well, I don't think he meant to be arrogant. Realize he worked with all the people at MGM, including Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. I believe he meant I had to have some faith in myself, strength and joy about what I was doing. I was so withdrawn at that time, few people believed in me. In fact, many in the theater dept tried to get me to change my major. Sad. I wish I had all I have now then, but it took time.