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Interview with BJ Keene on Maria von Trapp and Hollywood buzz memories (Photos)

On Feb. 23, 2014, Betty Jane "BJ" Keene, 90, out of Fort Myers, Fla. shared memories of the well known von Trapp daughter who, with her family, was the inspiration for stage productions and a film. The death of Maria von Trapp was officially announced to the public on Feb. 22.

All things inspired by Maria von Trapp and family -
All things inspired by Maria von Trapp and family -
Trapp Family Singers, Photo: Wiki
Betty Jane Keene
Betty Jane Keene, Photo: Courtesy

"Maria von Trapp died on Feb. 18, 2014 at 99. She was the second-oldest daughter of Georg Ludwig and Agatha Whitehead von Trapp. She was also the real life member of the Trapp Family Singers and was portrayed as Louisa in 'The Sound of Music...'" - Mesa European Travel Examiner

BJ Keene, you are only nine years younger than Maria von Trapp was. Do you remember her or her family before or during the days when Broadway was all a buzz with stage productions?

"Yes, I mostly remember that she and her family sang. Now that she's died I've been reliving some of those days. I originally lived in New York and kind of kept abreast of what was popular on Broadway in the 40s and 50s. In my younger years I used to frequent NYC, and I was a dancer. My whole family, like the von Trapps, was, and still is, very musically talented.

I didn't have a television or get the newspaper, not everyone did back then, but through word of mouth we heard about the von Trapps and the stage performances inspired by them."

Do you remember anything about Hollywood when it presented "The Sound of Music" film?

"In the late 40s, just before we wed, my first husband was involved in film acting in Hollywood, so I always had a special interest in films.

I remember the many songs in the 'The Sound of Music' film, especially the title song. The film was released in the mid-60s, so by then the von Trapp family, the stage productions and the film were more in the media. I was very excited about it. We had a television at that time, but we seldom went to the movies.

However, I remember taking my two daughters to the movies around 1965 to see "The Sound of Music." My oldest was a teenager and my youngest only four, but they both enjoyed it equally, and so did I. While viewing the movie I remember feeling happy, sad, excited and scared, sometimes all at the same time."

Have you ever seen one of the stage productions or the film since then?

"No, but I understand that I can as the movie is now on one of those small round flat record-like things you put into a machine and play. One of these days I might find someone who can play it for me!"

BJ, do you have anything else you want to share?

"Yes I do. You might say that I physically became involved with the von Trapp family, but as a tourist. In 1991 I visited my youngest daughter in Germany, and we traveled to Austria. We made a point to find where the real von Trapp family lived, sang and hid from the Nazis. Of course most of us remember the von Trapps from Hollywood's point of view. I've been blessed to remember how they lived from that era, my own era as well."

Thank you Betty Jane Keene for sharing some of your memories of Maria von Trapp and her family. It is amazing to learn how she and her family not only inspired Broadway and Hollywood, but also how they affected those around them both locally and world wide!

Condolences go to family and friends of Maria Agatha Franziska Gobertina von Trapp who died Feb. 18 in Stowe, Vt. On September 28, 2014 Maria would have turned 100!

Enjoy above video on "Maria von Trapp."

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