The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro:
Bounding from one locale to another in her missionary work, Maria would arrive in a new port only to find yet another letter from the pesky Hallidays. Having no idea who Mary Martin and Richard Halliday were, Maria would tear up their impassioned letters with nary a second thought. Refusing to take no for an answer, Richard Halliday finally hit upon the strategy of meeting Maria’s ship in San Francisco when she returned from New Guinea. Maria granted permission for a theatrical version of her life story, but even after Mary and Maria struck up a friendship, obtaining Maria’s final signature still proved difficult; the papers were finally signed only when Maria was recovering in an Innsbruck, Austria, hospital from the malaria she had contracted in Papua New Guinea.
With Maria’s signature procured, the producers were able to obtain permission from the remaining von Trapps more readily, and by the end of 1957, they had succeeded in persuading all remaining family members to say yes to the production. To sweeten the deal producer Hayward granted Maria three-eighths of one percent of the royalties; when the sale of the film rights was negotiated by agent Swifty Lazar, 20th Century-Fox was coerced into granting Maria the same arrangement. Fifty years after the film’s release, that clause still generates approximately $100,000 per year in royalties for the family.