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    Maria von Trapp, Last Surviving Member of the Famous Singing Family, Dies at 99

    Maria von Trapp AP Photo/ Kerstin Joensson

    Maria von Trapp, whose family's story served as the inspiration for The Sound of Music, has died. She was 99.

    Maria, who was the last surviving member of the family of seven brothers and sisters, passed away in her sleep at her home in Vermont, a family friend confirmed to the Austrian Times.

    "It was a surprise that she was the one in the family to live the longest because ever since she was a child she suffered from a weak heart," Marianne Dorfer, who runs the von Trapp Villa Hotel in Salzburg, told the newspaper.

    Dorfer continued that Maria's poor health was the reason her father, Baron von Trapp, hired a governess to teach her and her brothers and sisters.

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    Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music REX USA/SNAP/Rex

    Maria recounted the memory in a post on her family's website for their Austrian-inspired lodge in Vermont: "As a result of scarlet fever, I was too sickly to walk the three miles to school every day, and the doctor advised that I stay home. This condition brought Maria Augusta Kutschera to teach me first grade gymnasium, the equivalent of middle school. She came to us as my teacher and after three years became our second mother."

    Born Maria Franziska, the second eldest daughter and third oldest child, she fled from Austria with her family in 1938 to escape the Nazis.

    The famous singing siblings' tale sparked the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical and the 1965 film, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Heather Menzies portrayed Louisa, Maria's character. The classic movie won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

    Last December, NBC's special The Sound of Music Live! featured Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer.

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