July 25, 2016

Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.”

All were Marni Nixon.

Nixon has died at the age of 86.
Deborah Kerr was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956 for her role as Anna in “The King and I”; the film’s soundtrack album sold hundreds of thousands of copies. For singing Anna’s part on that album, Ms. Nixon recalled, she received a total of $420.

“You always had to sign a contract that nothing would be revealed,” Ms. Nixon told the ABC News program “Nightline” in 2007....


john said...

Marni was a member of my secret Pancho Barnes club.

Mark said...

And she was the wrong choice for WSS and MFL at least. Her singing clashed too much with the other characters, as well as being unfair to Wood and Hepburn. If they could not sing well, then they should have cast different actresses.

shiloh said...

Sister Sophia ~ Sound of Music, her only movie role.

She also dubbed the singing voice of Rita Moreno in West Side Story, who won the Oscar.

Puerto Rico,
My heart’s devotion--
Let it sink back in the ocean.
Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing,
And the money owing.
And the sunlight streaming,
And the natives steaming.
I like the island Manhattan,
Smoke on your pipe and put that in.

Jeff Teal said...

We can always do it better can't we.But our remakes usually suck.Resquiat in pace mia cara.

Ann Althouse said...

"She also dubbed the singing voice of Rita Moreno in West Side Story, who won the Oscar."

I don't think that's quite right. From Wikipedia:

"In 1961's West Side Story, the studio kept her work on the film (as the singing voice of Natalie Wood's Maria) a secret from the actress,[4][5] and Nixon also dubbed Rita Moreno's singing in the film's "Tonight" quintet."

That is, she sang for Moreno only in that one number.

Quaestor said...

I knew there was some bad blood flowed in the production of MFL as both Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway reprised their Broadway roles for the film, leaving Julie Andrews on the street as it were. But to learn that Marni Nixon was paid lunch money to make Audrey Hepburn acceptable to the audience as Eliza is quite depressing. Rather bad for the breakfast digestion.

Gahrie said...

Valerie Jarrett can relate.

J. Farmer said...

Eh, if action stars get to use stunt doubles, I don't have any problem with musicals stars using dubbed singing.

MisterBuddwing said...

"Will the real Marni Nixon please ... stand up!"


Quaestor said...

A little background, as a freshman I played the role of Alfie Doolittle in Pygmalion. The director liked my East End accent, but was reluctant to cast someone who looked as young as I did at the time. The resident makeup artist assured him she could handle it by using liquid latex applied under my eyes and across my forehead to "wrinkle" my skin. The next day I auditioned again with makeup applied by the professional artist, which looked pretty good under the lights; so I got the part. Later I learned that the makeup artist intended to train me to apply my own makeup rather than do it herself — too many other things to do, I suppose. So I started doing my own, but on the last dress rehearsal I got some latex too near my left eye and had a bad reaction to the fumes. My eyelid swelled shut and the whole area grew purulent. I went to the campus clinic that night for treatment, which consisted of a prednisone ointment and a large gauze patch. Not good at all for the character. That night I took some scraps of chamois leather and made an crude eyepatch large enough to cover the gauze. The audience love it. In the fifth act Doolittle the filthy dissolute dustman shows up in a silk hat and swallowtail coat as he has received a legacy from a wealth American for being "the most original moralist in England". This makes Doolittle very uncomfortable because it compels the formerly freewheeling Alfie to conform to middle class social expectations as Alfred P. Doolittle, Esquire. The eye patch helped me emphasize the square peg in a round hole dilemma without over playing Doolittle's complaining speeches. Actually, except for the singing, which Shaw's play lacks, I think I was a better Doolittle than Holloway himself.

Original Mike said...

Audrey, say it's not so!

traditionalguy said...

Too bad. Hillary desperately needs to hire a voice like hers for voiceovers of speeches.

The Russians probably killed her to help Trump.

shiloh said...

"I don't think that's quite right. From Wikipedia:"

Never thought Moreno was a good enough singer to do the singing in West Side Story. I may be wrong.

There's definitely disagreement and of course Moreno says it was her.

Ghost singer Betty Wand dubbed Rita in the America sequence.

Rita wasn't dubbed in America, at least according to her. She was dubbed in A Boy Like That.

Betty Wand dubbed Rita in "I Have a Love." That's clearly her in "America" and in the early parts of the "Quintet."

No offense to Ms. Moreno, but I highly doubt she was ever "practically a coloratura", let alone anything close to being a soprano.


Have always liked Rita. If it was her, congrats!

Mike Sylwester said...

Audrey Hepburn herself sang "Moon River" in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.

A webpage called "25 Things You May Not Know About 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'" reports the following:


Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer composed 'Moon River' with Hepburn's limited vocal range in mind, having heard her sing in 'Funny Face.' There was talk of having Marni Nixon dub her vocals (as she would do a couple years later in 'My Fair Lady'), but Edwards decided that Hepburn's own plain, unvarnished rendition of the song fit the character better.



I have written an essay explaining the lyrics of the song.


buwaya puti said...

Oddly enough, there are many fine singers today who could do this ghost-singing job, but there are no real substitutes for Audrey Hepburn.

Paul Snively said...

In Hollywood, you used to be a "triple threat" if you could act, sing, and dance. In the early days, it was kind of expected, since most actors would be coming from stage careers in musicals. Now we think we're lucky if Hollywood can find someone who can actually act.

Computer games, of course, set aside dancing for the most part, but it's surprising how many voice-over artists working in games are good singers. Valve knew they wanted their deranged cyborg, GLaDOS, to sing in "Portal," so they hired a professional opera singer, Ellen McLain, to voice the iconic character. Ms. McLain did such a spectacular job that hers is the only voice to appear on every title in Valve's Orange Box collection. Another good example is Laura Bailey's singing in Middle earth: Shadow of Mordor. Finally, one of the most beautifully harrowing things I've ever heard was Courtnee Draper's rendition of Will the Circle Be Unbroken in Bioshock Infinite. The backstory here is that director Ken Levine asked Ms. Draper to sing the hymn just a few days after she lost her grandfather. It's wonderful, but a serious gut-punch.

mockturtle said...

@john: my secret Pancho Barnes club.

Tell me more! I'm fascinated with her.

mockturtle said...

Pancho, that is...

rhhardin said...

George: Tell you what. All I want is someone as intelligent as you, but perhaps a little less tense and argumentative. A sort of Katharine Hepburn figure.

Lucy: You don't deserve Katharine Hepburn.

George: Audrey Hepburn.

Lucy: Also too good. Just stay away from the Hepburns.

- Two Weeks Notice (Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant)

rhhardin said...

I bailed out of My Fair Lady at the first song. I could tell the story was going to drag out.

Pretty Woman (Julia Roberts) is a more compact version.

rhhardin said...

Drew Barrymore in Music and Lyrics did her own singing.

Sophie: It sounds so good. I can't believe it.

Alex: And now......vocals.

Alex: No, you see, you have to sing into the microphone. It won't follow you.

Sophie: But I can't.

Alex: It's a duet for a man and a woman. You are as close as we've got.

Alex: Your headphones and a level. You look nice. You should wear them all the time.

Alex: "Way Back Into Love." Take one.

Sophie: Oh, God. I'm getting really nervous.

Alex: You'll be fine. Just use your normal nice voice that I've heard so much of in the last three days.

Sophie: It's like my throat's closing up. It's like anaphylactic.

Alex: It's fine. It's just a three-minute song.

Sophie sings quietly: I've been living with a shadow overhead / I've been sleeping with a...

Alex: Just a little bit louder. This song is intended for humans.

Alex: "Way Back Into Love." Take two.

john said...

Blogger mockturtle said...
Pancho, that is...

The idea came to me during a tour of a great old hotel in Winslow AZ a few years back. A woman in our group couldn't stop disparaging the architect, a Mary Colter, the basis being she couldn't have done this work in such a patriarchal society and that a man must have done it and she fronted for publicity. The thought that Mary Colter could have been successful on her own was deeply threatening to this woman, steeped in her own feminist-as-oppressed-being stew/philosophy.

I discovered Pancho Barnes from Hillary Swank's movie "Emilia". In Earhart, a woman of modest abilities who was fronted by her husband with sufficient money and publicity, I found a counterpoint, both to Mary Colter and to Pancho. Barne's skill and accomplishments as an aviatrix were far superior to Earhart's, but it was the latter who garnered the fame, and later, became the feminist icon.

So, for my daughter's sake mostly, I created the Pancho Barnes club, dedicated to those women who accomplished great things through their own talents, yet have not achieved the fame, have been overlooked, or worst, are treated by the current feminist industry as unworthy. Some of the women in the club are:

In the Division of Never-Known Champions: Mary Colter, Pancho Barnes, the Ninety-Nines, chaired by the ultimate N-K Champion: Jerrie Mock

In the Too Busy Doing Great Stuff In The Trenches Division: Marni Nixon, Carol Kaye

In the I'm not only Accomplished, I am Hot Division: Alison Krauss, Candy Dulfer

In the You Never Heard my Name Division: Martha Summerhayes, Abby Duniway, chaired by the ultimate hottie you never heard of: Jenny Jerome

In the Historical Division: Gertrude Bell, Elizabeth Cochrane, chaired by the ultimate survivor: Mary Chestnut

The club is still growing. Glad you asked.

mockturtle said...

My Fair Lady was such a poor version of Shaw's brilliant play, Pygmalion, the movie version of which, with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller, was far superior.

mockturtle said...

Thank you, John, re: Pancho Barnes. I had never heard of her until I read Wolfe's The Right Stuff, which gave her brief bio. What a story! Socialite turns aviator turns bartender to the test pilots in the California desert. Are there any books about her you can recommend?

eddie willers said...

A bit of trivia.

Her son was Andrew Gold, who had a good career with Linda Ronstadt, had a few solo hits (including Lonely Boy) and wrote Thank You for Being a Friend which became the theme song for the TV show The Golden Girls.

He died in 2011 at age 59.

Gahrie said...

Candy Dulfer

Candy is quite famous overseas, and considered one of the great contemporary jazz players.

Eric said...


shiloh said...

"Pretty Woman (Julia Roberts) is a more compact version."

Coincidentally Shelley Michelle was a body double for Roberts in Pretty Woman. If Roberts face isn't showing, only body parts, nudity aside, it's Michelle.


Have always thought Robert Wise used Marci as Sister Sophia, her only movie, in The Sound of Music as an inside joke ie Audrey being picked over Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady because Audrey was the bigger star attraction, w/Marci doing the singing.

As mentioned above Audrey actually is a pretty good singer, but not many are in the same league as 4 octave Julie.

shiloh said...

Marni, not Marci ...

buwaya said...


In the You Never Heard my Name Division: Yay Panlilio
also in the historical division.

john said...

You're right. Yay is officially in the club.


mockturtle said...

Are you referring to the Jenny Jerome who was Churchill's mother?