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'Sound of Music' lives on for N.C. man who portrayed Rolf

Daniel Truhitte was 20 when he landed the acting gig of a lifetime -- the role of Rolf, sweetheart to eldest von Trapp daughter, Liesl, in the timeless classic "The Sound of Music."

Who could forget the scene in which young loves Rolf and Liesl dance around the von Trapp family's darkened gazebo, singing "Sixteen Going on Seventeen"?

Later in the movie, the bicycle-riding Rolf is a young German officer who blows his whistle to alert his Nazi superiors that the von Trapp family is trying to escape.

Truhitte, 64, who grew up in Sacramento, Calif., but has been a longtime resident of Concord, N.C., will perform a couple melodies and speak and sign autographs at Fort Mill High School at 7 p.m. Monday, when the school's choral department presents its own version of the stage musical.

Truhitte, who lists numerous stage credits, also has sung and danced in Las Vegas nightclubs, performed in the Rose Bowl, Hollywood Palace and Hollywood Paladium and has been featured on "Entertainment Tonight."

More than four decades after "The Sound of Music" opened in 1965, Truhitte still travels the country, speaking about the film and performing its songs and other melodies.

We talked with Truhitte on Friday. Here are excerpts:

Do you still get fan mail related to "The Sound of Music"?

"Yes, I still get fan letters from all over the world. People probably still think I'm 16 going on 17. (laughs) But really, this has become like a movement. It's continuous. I've heard stories where people go to the theater and they buy the seats that they sat in during the 'The Sound of Music,' where they first saw it."

How did you get your start in acting?

"I started taking dance classes when I was 6 years old. I always wanted to be a song and dance man. I grew up during the '50s. There were a lot of musicals going on at that time, and that's what I wanted to do. I started taking voice lessons at 10."

How did you land the part of Rolf?

"The criteria for me on this picture was that they could not find somebody that could sing and dance and play the last scene believably (in which Rolf blows the whistle on the escaping von Trapp family). I was the last person cast. They had already started the production."

Women who saw the film loved Rolf. Why is that?

"Yeah, they did. It was a very romantic scene, the gazebo scene. I think that's always appealing. Young people usually like drama, they like music, they like singing and they like romance." His darker hair was dyed blonde for the part because "they wanted that Aryan look, to give it that German appearance."

Why has the movie enjoyed such longevity?

"It has all the elements that make a film great . . . You had a story line that involves romance, love, family and the Nazi movement and the tragedy that caused in people's lives. I think you have all the elements of drama. And I think that played to make a wonderful movie that has endured like no other. It was made 43 years ago. Most people do a film and that's it -- you never hear about it."

Do you ever get tired of people asking you about "The Sound of Music"?

"No, it's just such a beautiful picture, and it has been such a part of my life. I'm very thankful for being a part of this picture that I think has family values."

WANT TO GO?

What: Fort Mill High School choral department presents "The Sound of Music," including an appearance by Daniel Truhitte during the Monday show only.

When: Shows continue at 3 p.m. today and 7 p.m. Monday.

Where: Fort Mill High School.

Tickets: $10 adults and $5 children for today's show, and, for the Monday show featuring Truhitte, $20 adults and $10 children, available at www.fortmillchorus.com.

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