"Loverly" soprano Marni Nixon has ensured herself a proper place in film history although most moviegoers would not recognize her if they passed her on the street. But if you heard her, that might be a horse of a different color. Marni is one of those unsung heroes (or should I say "much sung" heroes) whose incredible talents were given short shrift at the time. For those who think film superstars such as Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood, and Audrey Hepburn possessed not only powerhouse dramatic talents but amazing singing voices as well...think again. Kerr's Anna in The King and I (1956), Natalie's Maria in West Side Story (1961), and Audrey's Eliza in My Fair Lady (1964) were all dubbed by the amazing Marni Nixon, and nowhere in the credits will you find that fact. Born Marni McEathron in Altadena, California, she was a former child actress and soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale in the beginning. Trained in opera, yet possessing a versatile voice for pop music and easy standards as well, she not only sang for Arnold Schönberg and Igor Stravinsky but also recorded light songs. Marni made her Broadway musical debut in 1954 in a show that lasted two months but nothing came from it. In 1955, the singer contracted to dub Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956) was killed in a car accident in Europe and a replacement was needed. Marni was hired...and the rest is history. Much impressed, the studios brought her in to "ghost" Ms. Kerr's voice once again in the classic tearjerker An Affair to Remember (1957). From there she went on to make Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn sound incredibly good with such classic songs as "Tonight" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly."
She finally appeared on screen in a musical in The Sound of Music (1965) starring Julie Andrews, who physically resembles Marni. The role is a small one, however, and she is only given a couple of solo lines in "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" as a singing nun. Marni's vocal career in films dissolved by the mid 1960s, but she continued on with concerts and in symphony halls, while billing herself as "The Voice of Hollywood" in one-woman cabaret shows. Throughout the years, she has played on the legit stage, including the lead roles in "The King and I" and "The Sound of Music," and in her matronly years has been seen as Fraulein Schneider in "Cabaret," and in the musicals "Follies" and "70 Girls 70." Her last filmed singing voice was as the grandmother in the animated feature Mulan (1998) in the 1990s. Married three times, twice to musicians; one of her husbands, Ernest Gold, by whom she had three children, was a film composer and is best known for his Academy Award-winning epic Exodus (1960).
|Albert David Block||(11 April 1983 - present)|
|Dr. Lajos "Fritz" Frederick Fenster||(23 July 1971 - 31 July 1975) (divorced)|
|Ernest Gold||(22 May 1950 - June 1969) (divorced) 3 children|
Hosted "Boomerang," a Seattle children's TV show.
Started out at the age of four as a violinist and had a singing act with her sisters by age eight.
Earned her reputation as "Singing Voice of the Stars" by "ghosting" other film luminaries as well, including Margaret O'Brien, Janet Leigh, and Jeanne Crain in some of their song sequences. She even touched up some singing parts for Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), dubbing the phrase "These rocks don't lose their shape" and some higher notes in the "Diamond's Are a Girl's Best Friend" number.
She starred in her own local children's TV show in Seattle entitled "Boomerang" in the late 70s and early 80s and won four Emmys for her efforts.
Has appeared in one film with Julie Andrews: The Sound of Music (1965). She also provided Eliza Doolittle's singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964) - a role originated on the stage by Andrews.
When Harvey Fierstein was asked who should play the lead in a film adaptation of the musical "La Cage Aux Folles", he replied: "Me! Dubbed by Marni Nixon!".
[on dubbing for Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961)] I knew that I would never be cast physically in the role of Maria. In the picture they wanted Maria to sound like a sixteen-year-old and they kept trying out Natalie's voice. Natalie was perfectly musical, but I had the feeling that it was only gradually when they started working with her that they said to themselves, "I don't think she is able to do it at all". I was hanging around and not knowing how much of my voice was going to be used except for a few high notes that she knew she couldn't sustain. In the end, Natalie recorded everything to her own takes and sometimes was even out of synch. My main job was to fix up all the inconsistencies of her original recordings. I had to loop all the vocals after the film was finished.
(May 2001) Replaced Joan Roberts as Heidi Schiller (who sings "One More Kiss") in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies"
(June 2003) Performed in a concert run ('The Voice of Hollywood') that toured the US.
(July 2006) Performed as the Mother Superior in The Sound of Music at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
(March 2008) Playing Mrs. Higgins (Prof. Higgins' mother) in a touring production of My Fair Lady.
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