Marni Nixon Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (20)  | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (4)

Born in Altadena, California, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (breast cancer)
Birth NameMargaret Nixon McEathron
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

"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.

She was born Marni McEathron on February 22, 1930, in Altadena, California and a child actress. Once a soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale in the beginning, she trained in opera . 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. During the war era, she appeared uncredited in the musicals Born to Sing (1942) and The Bashful Bachelor (1942) and later voiced one of the singing flowers in the Disney film Alice in Wonderland (1951).

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."

Providing the voice of the geese in Disney's Mary Poppins (1964), Marni finally appeared on screen in the box-office musical The Sound of Music (1965) starring Julie Andrews, who physically resembles Marni. The role is a minor one, however, and she is only given a couple of ensemble scenes and 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."

Appearing very sporadically on the small screen, Marni appeared on such programs as "The Mothers-in-Law" (as herself), appeared in a filmed TV record of an off-Broadway musical entitled Taking My Turn (1984) and was featured in the romantic comedy film I Think I Do (1997) and made a final visual appearance on an episode of "Law & Order: SVU." Her last singing voice on film was as the grandmother in the animated feature Mulan (1998).

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). The octogenarian was diagnosed with breast cancer and died on July 24, 2016, in New York City.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Albert David Block (11 April 1983 - 17 August 2015) ( his death)
Dr. Lajos "Fritz" Frederick Fenster (23 July 1971 - 31 July 1975) ( divorced)
Ernest Gold (22 May 1950 - 1 August 1969) ( divorced) ( 3 children)

Trivia (20)

Hosted "Boomerang," a Seattle children's TV show.
Children with Ernest Gold: Andrew Gold, Martha Gold Carr (b. July 22, 1953), and Melanie Gold.
Provided the singing voice for Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961). She also was Deborah Kerr's singing voice in both An Affair to Remember (1957) and the musical classic The King and I (1956).
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.
Toured extensively with both Liberace and Victor Borge.
Of her three children, Andrew Gold is a rock musician, composer and producer; daughter Martha Gold Carr is a psychologist; and Melanie Gold is a singer and songwriter.
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.

Also dubbed the singing voice of Anita (Rita Moreno) in West Side Story (1961) for the song "Tonight" when Betty Wand developed bronchitis at the last moment.
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!".
Replaced Joan Roberts as Heidi Schiller (who sings "One More Kiss") in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Follies" [May 2001]
Performed as the Mother Superior in The Sound of Music at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. [July 2006]
Performed in a concert run ('The Voice of Hollywood') that toured the US. [June 2003]
Playing Mrs. Higgins (Prof. Higgins' mother) in a touring production of My Fair Lady. [March 2008]
Although she never dubbed the voice of Julie Andrews, Marni Nixon sang the role of Mary Poppins on the kids' version (Disneyland label) of the music from the film.
Twentieth Century-Fox insisted Marni Nixon sign a contract that she would not reveal that she dubbed any part of Deborah Kerr's vocals in "The king and I" (1956). Were she to do so, the studio threatened that they would see to it that she never worked "in this town (i.e., Hollywood) again." Deborah Kerr, who worked extremely closely - and extremely well - with Nixon thought this was very unfair and it was Miss Kerr herself who revealed the secret of the dubbing in an interview with the popular syndicated columnist Earl Wilson.
In 1965, Marni appeared on the popular show "To Tell The Truth' as a participant. Half the panel which consisted of Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean and Kitty Carlyle were fooled.
Of her three best-known dubbing jobs - Anna in "The king and I", Maria in "West side story", and Eliza in "My fair lady" - only with Deborah Kerr was Nixon able to establish a warm personal and professional rapport. The following year (1957), Nixon again dubbed Kerr's vocals, this time in "An Affair to Remember", in which Kerr was portraying a successful night club singer.
Natalie Wood recorded all the songs she would sing in the film West Side Story and was told that only some of her higher notes would be dubbed but eventually they were all dubbed by Marnie.

Personal Quotes (5)

[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.
[from an interview in 1964] It's fascinating, getting inside the actresses you're singing for. It's like cutting off the top of their heads and seeing what's underneath. You have to know how they feel, as well as how they talk, in order to sing as they would sing -- if they could sing.
[from an interview in 1981] It got so I'd lent my voice to so many others that I felt it no longer belonged to me. It was eerie; I had lost part of myself.
[from an interview in 2007] You always had to sign a contract that nothing would be revealed. Twentieth Century Fox, when I did The King and I (1956), threatened me. They said, "If anybody ever knows that you did any part of the dubbing for Deborah Kerr, we'll see to it that you won't work in town again."
[from an interview in 1967] The anonymity didn't bother me until I sang Natalie Wood's songs in West Side Story (1961). Then I saw how important my singing was to the picture. I was giving my talent, and somebody else was taking the credit.

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