Where did the baby name Liesl come from in 1965?

The character Liesl von Trapp from the movie "The Sound of Music" (1965)
Liesl von Trapp from “The Sound of Music

The German name Liesl (pronounced LEE-zl), which is related to Elizabeth, first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1965:

  • 1967: 96 baby girls named Liesl
  • 1966: 100 baby girls named Liesl
  • 1965: 24 baby girls named Liesl [debut]
  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted

This was the year the Oscar-winning movie musical The Sound of Music was released. Set in Austria in the late 1930s, the film told the story of singing governess Maria (played by Julie Andrews) and featured the seven children of the von Trapp family: Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl.

Eldest child Liesl (played by Charmian Carr) was “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” as she explains in the song:

The movie was modeled after the Tony award-winning musical of the same name, which was ultimately based upon the 1949 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp. (Maria ended up marrying the children’s widowed father, Georg, and thereby becoming a von Trapp herself.)

In real life, the seven von Trapp children were named Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, and Martina. Later, Georg and Maria welcomed three more: Rosmarie, Eleonore (nn “Lorli”), and Johannes.

Sources: The Sound of Music – Wikipedia, SSA

2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Liesl come from in 1965?

  1. I’ve only ever met one Liesl. She lived in my dorm at college. Born 1972 or 73, in the U.S. She was named after the movie, which I found quite enchanting, because I’ve always loved The Sound of Music. I like the children’s names from the movie better than the names of the real Trapp family children. I wonder why they changed them, though.

  2. I wonder too. I tried to find an answer, but wasn’t able to come up with much.

    In the memoir Forever Liesl, the actress who played Liesl said: “I can understand why Maria’s name was changed (to avoid confusion with Fraulein Maria), but not the other children, whose names were beautiful.”

    Laurence Maslon, in his book The Sound of Music Companion, noted that the new names were “rather operetta-like,” which I thought was an interesting observation.

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