I had the honor of interviewing Kym Karath, best known to audiences as little Gretl Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music. If you’re expecting an article about The Sound Of Music, you’ll be getting something much deeper and more passionate – Kym Karath’s heart and soul and passions. You’ll also be getting a Kym who is resilient and bounces back and fights for what she believes in – especially when it comes to her son Eric.
1)Kym, tell us about The Aurelia Foundation.
The Aurelia Foundation was started by a group of parents of young adults with special needs to address their needs after they age out of the school system at 22. Our goal is to create model programs for the moderate to severely disabled special need community that enable them to continue to grow, learn and thrive ,and to realize their fullest potential. Our first program started in September and it is going beautifully, headed up by the finest special need educator a parent could dream of, Lisa Szilagyi.
2)You were blessed with amazing parents. What was it about them that inspired you?
I was very lucky, it’s true. They were the warmest and kindest people I have ever met. Tragically, they passed away too soon. My father died suddenly at 60, when I was 18.My mother was older, but in wonderful health until she was struck by pancreatic cancer. But their legacy was the example they set , and the love they gave. My father was the happiest person I’ve ever known. He loved life passionately and found joy in the simplest of things… music , dancing, and being with his family. Daddy was incapable of seeing the proverbial glass as half empty, to him it was always full! He was brilliantly intelligent and well-read, and did not possess a shred of cynicism. And both my parents loved with their whole heart. Truly. My brother ,sister and I were hugged and kissed on a more or less continual basis . My mother was a little more organized, more cautious , and slightly more cynical than my father ( which was good because my father could be taken advantage of, and she protected him. ) My mother was a tigress when it came to her family. She was frustratingly accurate when it came to judging people, and very disciplined. And she was not a complaining person. On top of that she was always exquisitely beautiful and elegant. I do my best to live up to the example they set but it is a very high bar.
3)Kym, what can you tell us about your son Eric?
He is a spectacular human being who has enormous courage and a remarkable capacity for happiness. It occurred to me recently how much like my father he is…and he loves singing, dancing, as my father (and mother) did. He is also the incredibly affectionate ( my best friend says there must be a gene for that!) and remarkably sensitive . As a mother, I’ve dedicated my life to making sure that he keeps his happy spirit in the face of all the frustration and heartache he faces because of his disability, brain damage as the result of a stroke at 3 weeks old.
4)What did you study in College, and why did you choose to study it? Had you always been interested in your Major, or was it something that you chose right before you entered College?
I had no intention of majoring in religion. But my father’s death during my sophomore year changed the direction of my studies which had been more in the direction of psychology and literature… but in my search for the answer to the meaning of life (basically ) I ended up taking more classes in the philosophy and history of religion until I had a double major– humanities and religion.
5)I have always been interested in child stars because I also, although behind the scenes, grew up in the business. Tragically, some did not make it. What made you a success story?
I’m not sure “success story” is the way I would put it… there are many of us who survived the unique stresses of being child actors and became well balanced and productive adults. I would say that the determining factor is a solid and loving family. It almost always seems to be, doesn’t it?
6)I’ve always loved the spelling of your name, Kym – at a time when Kim was the sole spelling. I know that the reason is in your scrapbook, but can you explain more? Were you born with the name Kym or Kimberly, or were you born with a Greek name? What is your full name?
I am so glad you asked this question ! Finally I have the opportunity to correct Wikipedia ! Contrary to what is written there my name was never Kimberly. My name is Anthea Kym Karath. Anthea means flower blossom in Greek, and despite how lovely it is, I wanted a solidly American name– I just wanted to be Kym. And it was my older brother and sister who came up with the spelling …KYM rather than KIM.
7)What was it like filming THE BRADY BUNCH episode that you filmed? Can you tell us about it? I love that episode!
It was so much fun! And the cast was delightful to work with. But I remember the wardrobe process was pretty embarrassing. I had just “developed” and the results were pretty dramatic, so a great deal of discussion went into finding a way to minimize the curves ! And believe me,at 13 I was very self conscious about that ! It was shortly after that when my parents took me out of the “business”; they had grown very concerned about the kind of offers and people circling around me. So I very happily focused on my education. I had been acting since I was 3!
8)I love your hair and outfits. Have you always been into fashion? Do you prefer dresses or skirts to pants?
Thank you Amanda. The truth is that I’ve always loved fashion. My mother was very lovely and always elegant, and so was my older sister, and I wanted to dress and be just like them. They wore gloves and hats and beautiful dresses, so that is what I wanted to wear as well! I was 3 going on 18… I loved designing dresses at that age ,and I still design some of my own clothes when I can’t find what I’m looking for. And yes, though I love jeans (especially well cut skinny ones) I prefer dresses. I am never more comfortable than in a pretty dress.
9)What are your three favorite films?
I love so many movies but if I had to name three, they would be An Affair To Remember, Gone With The Wind, and Doctor Zhivago.
10)What books are on your nightstand?
I love the feel of an actual book in my hand, but I have to say I read much more on my Nook now. I just finished Anyone Who Had A Heart, Burt Bacharach’s wonderful memoir, and The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, by Donald Wolfe -spellbinding and disturbing.
11)What music CD’s have you been listening to lately?
I am a huge country music fan. I am obsessed . I love Ronnie Dunn .Most mellifluous voice ever. I love Maroon 5. And Burt Bacharach”s music – I can listen to it over and over again. And since we are discussing popular culture I will tell you what shows I love- hug fan of Downton Abbey, Mad Men, The Newsroom, Ray Donovan.
12)You being Greek, what are some of your favorite Greek dishes?
My mother was an incredible cook .My favorite thing we made together were Tiropitas – little cheese souffles in filo dough. You will find them in many Greek restaurants but in my opinion they are rarely as delicious as they can be.
13)Kym, what are you doing now? Are you working on any new and exciting projects that you can share with us?
Thanks for asking Amanda…
This is a particularly fun time for me to answer that question….
I wrote a screenplay that is in development and will be filmed in Paris (my favorite place in the world), and I will be acting again, playing an ambassadress in an international espionage series that will film in Vienna .I also have a beauty show in development and some fun SOM projects in the works so it is a busy time! And the first Aurelia foundation program is up and running very well (www.aureliafoundation.org). Great to chat Amanda ! I’ll keep you updated.