RIP Marni Nixon – Singer of the Stars

Having dubbed for voices such as Marilyn Monroe, Deborah Kerr, Audrey Hepburn among others, it is sad to hear of the singer’s death at the age of 86. Here is an insight into her work – that sadly mostly went uncredited on film. 

  1. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend – Marilyn Monroe: following on from providing the singing voice of Margaret O’Brien’s in 1948’s Big City and then 1949’s The Secret Garden, Marni Nixon’s first big break came performing the high notes in the most famous song to be associated with Monroe.

2. The King & I – Deborah Kerr: after appearing on Broadway in 1954 in a production of The Girl in Pink Tights, this was a major assignment for Nixon, as the King & I went on to become 20th Century Fox’s biggest musical hit of 1956. Kerr went on to receive an Oscar nomination for her performance. Nixon and Kerr were to work together once again, when Nixon provided the vocals for the song Continué in An Affair to Remember.

3. West Side Story – Natalie Wood: as in The King & I, Nixon’s vocals were used to provide the singing voice of Natalie Wood, who of course was playing Maria in this hugely popular film. As ever, Nixon’s singing voice is distinctive and captures the character and the song perfectly – showing her immense skill, but is still very discreet.

4. My Fair Lady – Audrey Hepburn: although Audrey herself was disappointed in not having her vocals being used in the film, ultimately it was studio’s decision and she had no option but to go along with it. However, as stunning as Nixon’s vocals are in this film, sometimes it feels a bit inappropriate that the flower girl Eliza would have such a stunning singing voice with no hint of cockney in it. Listen to Audrey’s version here.

Marni Nixon certainly deserved to get a lot more credit for her work than perhaps she did in her lifetime and it is a shame that only now do we appreciate it.

(P.S. she actually did appear in the Sound of Music as one of the nuns who sings ‘but her penitence is real’)

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