How Did 'The Sound of Music' Become a Christmas Movie?

Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music" (1965) theatrical trailer, screenshot. Credit: 20th Century Fox/Fox Family Entertainment YouTube

“The Sound of Music” first hit the silver screen in 1965, and it’s been a family favorite ever since. And not only has it been popular with fans, but with the people who give out major entertainment industry hardware, too. While it might not surprise people to hear that “The Sound of Music” won the Academy Award for Best Music in 1966, it also won two other major statuettes (Best Director and Best Picture).


You may have read my colleague Brandon Morse’s recent piece on why the ‘re-imagined’ version of another beloved movie musical, “West Side Story,” was such a wokeified disaster. Well, here’s a fun fact: Robert Wise, the director who made “The Sound of Music,” also did so for the classic retelling of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in mid-century New York City — and managed to walk home with those two (among other) big Oscars for the 1961 movie, also. See, he was the producer, too.

Anyway, how come “The Sound of Music” has a Christmastime connection? Most people will obviously think about family and togetherness. And the movie is undoubtedly family-friendly fare that network executives find it easy to schedule, which ABC has since 2001.

But there’s another reason. The connection to the holiday season goes back even further than 1965. In fact, it predates the movie. Of course, “The Sound of Music” is not just a Christmas movie (yes, just like “Die Hard”) — because before the movie came the hit Broadway musical based on the von Trapp family’s story.


And it all happened because of the growing, cultural influence of television — especially performers who played pop music on the big variety shows of the day.

The Garry Moore Show,” a primetime variety show, which aired from 1958 to 1964, helped spawn the careers of many major comedy stars, including Dick Van Dyke and Carol Burnett, who either guest-hosted or appeared as a regular cast member.

But their Christmas shows were extravaganzas on a massive scale. A Billboard article revealed that on the 1961 episode, special guest Julie Andrews appeared on Moore’s program to sing the jewel of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “My Favorite Things.”


Billboard also shared that the song was further tied to Christmas with its appearance on a Christmas album — which the film’s marketing people cooked up to help promote the movie. The thinking was to make a song from the soundtrack a hit in advance of the release. And they did it. But the version wasn’t sung by Andrews. The album was called The Jack Jones Christmas Album.

Here’s the very Frank Sinatra-esque Jones performing the song on the biggest variety show of all time, “The Ed Sullivan Show,” on December 20, 1964:



“The Sound of Music” airs tonight on ABC at 7 pm Eastern/6 pm Central. And while it’s broadcast here in Phoenix at 6 pm. (Mountain time), the ever fashionably late Los Angelenos can tune in at 7 pm Pacific Time. (Since some readers don’t have TVs, here are some other ways to catch the show.)

Here’s the film’s original theatrical trailer from 1965:


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