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Maria von Trapp, last of Trapp Family Singers, dies aged 99

Maria von Trapp, a member of the Austrian musical family whose escape from the Nazis was immortalized in the film "The Sound of Music," has died. She was the last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers.

Maria von Trapp, 99, died at her home in the northeastern US state of Vermont on Tuesday of natural causes, her half brother Johannes von Trapp told CNN on Saturday.

"Thank you for your thoughts. Maria had a wonderful life and while we will miss her, the memories of her will live on," Johannes said in a statement.

Maria was the third of seven Austrian-born children of Captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp. She was one of the original members of the Trapp Family Singers group.

The captain's second wife, also named Maria von Trapp, wrote a book that became the inspiration for stage and film productions, such as the 1965 movie "The Sound of Music," which made the story a classic.

The pair went on to have three children of their own - Rosmarie, Eleonore and Johannes.

"The Sound of Music" starred Christopher Plummer as the captain and Julie Andrews as his wife Maria. The film won five Academy Awards and is one of the highest-grossing Hollywood movies of all time.

Maria von Trapp was portrayed as Louisa in the film and musical.

The family fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and moved to the US the following year, where they became popular with concert audiences. They eventually settled in Vermont in 1942, where they opened a resort called the Trapp Family Lodge.

hc/tj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)