PASSINGS: Agathe von Trapp, Ronald Lee Herrick, Isabelle Caro

Agathe von Trapp

Oldest daughter in real ‘Sound of Music’ family

Agathe von Trapp, 97, a member of the musical family whose escape from Austria was the basis for “The Sound of Music,” died Tuesday at a hospice in Towson, Md., after suffering congestive heart failure in November, said her close friend Mary Louise Kane.

Kane and Von Trapp lived together for five decades and ran a kindergarten in nearby Glyndon until 1993.


Von Trapp was the oldest daughter of Austrian naval Capt. Georg Ritter von Trapp. His seven children by his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, were the basis for the singing family in the 1959 play and 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture.

The widowed captain had three more children with his second wife, Maria Augusta Kutschera. They performed together as the Trapp Family Singers.

Agathe, a guitarist, was represented in the film by 16-going-on-17 Liesl, played by Charmian Carr. But Agathe was far more reserved than the outgoing Liesl, Kane said.

Although Agathe admired the movie, she felt it misrepresented her father as too strict and not as the loving, caring parent he was, Kane said.

Von Trapp’s memoir, “Memories Before and After The Sound of Music,” was published in September by Harper Paperbacks.

Agathe is survived by four members of the Trapp Family Singers: Maria von Trapp, 96; Rosmarie von Trapp, 81; Eleonore “Lorli” von Trapp Campbell, 79; and Johannes von Trapp, 71.

Ronald Lee Herrick

Organ donor in first successful transplant


Ronald Lee Herrick, 79, who donated a kidney to his dying twin brother 56 years ago in what is recognized as the world’s first successful organ transplant, died Monday at a rehabilitation center in Augusta, Maine, of complications following heart surgery.

He had been in deteriorating health since his October surgery, said his wife, Cynthia.

Herrick gave a kidney to his twin brother, Richard, at what is now Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The 5 1/2-hour operation on Dec. 23, 1954, kept Herrick’s brother alive for eight years and was the first successful organ transplant, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Lead surgeon Dr. Joseph Murray went on to win a Nobel Prize.

The operation proved that transplants were possible and led to thousands of other successful kidney transplants and ultimately the transplant of other organs. Doctors had tried a handful of transplants worldwide without success up to that point, said Murray, who went on to perform 18 more transplants between identical twins.


“This operation rejuvenated the whole field of transplantation,” Murray, 91, said from his home in Wellesley, Mass. “There were other people studying transplants in four or five different countries, but the fact that it worked so well with the identical twins was a tremendous stimulus.”

Herrick was reared on a family farm in Rutland, Mass., and served in the Army.

At 23, Herrick was glad to give up a kidney if it would help his brother, who was dying from chronic nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys. Murray thought the odds of a transplanted organ being accepted would be enhanced because the donor and recipient were identical twins.

Before the operation, many people opposed the idea of transplanting a body organ, equating it with desecration of a body. Others thought it was unethical to operate on healthy humans, and respected editors of medical journals wrote that it was contrary to the Hippocratic Oath’s vow to never do harm to anyone, Murray said.


But Herrick never wavered and the operation went on as planned with no complications.

“He was the only one in the world who could save his brother’s life, so he was going to do it,” Cynthia Herrick said. “There was no question about it.”

Isabelle Caro

French model led public battle against anorexia


Isabelle Caro, 28, a French actress and model whose emaciated image appeared in a shock Italian ad campaign and whose anorexia and career were tracked by others suffering from eating disorders, died Nov. 17 after returning to France from a job in Tokyo, her longtime acting instructor, Daniele Dubreuil-Prevot, said Wednesday in Paris.

Dubreuil-Prevot said she did not know the cause of death but that Caro “had been sick for a long time,” referring to her anorexia.

Caro was featured in an ad campaign by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani in 2007 for an Italian fashion house. Under the headline “No Anorexia,” images across newspapers and billboards showed Caro naked, vertebrae and facial bones protruding.

In later interviews, she said she had suffered from anorexia since she was 13 and weighed about 59 pounds when the photos were taken.


Caro was born Sept. 12, 1982, according to her Facebook page. She took violin lessons and then acting lessons in Nantes and Versailles, Dubreuil-Prevot said.

The Italian ad campaign gained Caro widespread attention in European and American media. She spoke out about her anorexia and her efforts to recover, and the menace of eating disorders on the fashion industry.

Her acting instructor described years in and out of hospitals. Her death and her illness “are an absolute waste,” Dubreuil-Prevot said.

— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports