November 17, 2010 at 9:13 am , by Amelia Harnish
Can you believe it’s been 45 years since Julie Andrews cavorted and sang all over Salzburg with the von Trapp kids in The Sound of Music? Neither can Kym Karath, who played the youngest, Gretl. Remember, the one who adorably warbled, “The sun… has gone… to bed and so must I” to the party guests? Yep, that’s her, right, and we say she hasn’t changed a bit!
Karath was in New York last week for some TV appearances with her former movie family (there she is, below, with Julie Andrews and her movie siblings), and she stopped by LHJ’s office to catch us up on what she’s been doing lately. After The Sound of Music, she continued her acting career off and on into adulthood—until her three-week-old baby boy suffered a stroke. That caused brain damage and left him with developmental disabilities, and he became her main focus in life.
Her son Eric is 19 now, and Karath has found time to work on a project she’s very excited about: developing a TV series called Bouncing Back, about the power of human resilience. As the host, Karath will consult with experts in the emerging field of resilience psychology and tell the stories of real people who overcame incredible obstacles by helping others. “In people’s recovery from difficult experiences, there seems to be an altruistic component that makes them feel stronger,” she says. “It’s very helpful for their self-esteem, and it gives them the capacity to bounce back.”
Karath knows a bit about resilience herself, after going through a divorce, raising a child with special needs and losing her beloved mother to pancreatic cancer. She took a little time to answer our “Ladies We Love” questions.
What makes you a lady?
I like the word “lady”—I don’t think it needs any kind of restoration. It’s really a beautiful concept. It’s all about thinking of others.
Your favorite guilty pleasure?
I love Dancing with the Stars! It just makes me feel so good.
Three things on your life list?
A group of parents at my son’s school and I started the Aurelia Foundation, to create continuing education programs for young adults with disabilities. There’s no reason that these kids, even with severe developmental disabilities, can’t keep learning. I want us to set up a template that I hope will spread all over the country. That is definitely on my bucket list.
If you had a superpower, it would be:
It would be for all the kids who have disabilities to not have them anymore. I’d like to see them all able to function at their best level. And if that couldn’t happen, I’d like everybody around them to be kind and compassionate. That would make such a difference.
Ladies you admire:
Let’s start with Oprah for all the obstacles she has overcome, and all the good things she’s done and continues to do. Then, my son’s teacher, for everything she gives to kids with special needs. And my mother, who was a lady in every possible way. She was spectacular with my son—just unstinting in her love.
Of course, Julie Bain and I had to get a photo with “Gretl” during her visit! And no, we didn’t make her sing “Edelweiss” with us!
So tell us, dear readers: What was your favorite thing about The Sound of Music?
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