Thursday 29 September 2016

Marni Nixon, soprano who dubbed voices of Hollywood A-listers, dies aged 86

Published 25/07/2016 | 17:56

Audrey Hepburn, with My Fair Lady co-stars Stanley Holloway and Rex Harrison, had her voice dubbed by Marni Nixon for some of the musical numbers
Audrey Hepburn, with My Fair Lady co-stars Stanley Holloway and Rex Harrison, had her voice dubbed by Marni Nixon for some of the musical numbers

Tributes have been paid to the soprano who dubbed the voices of Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood and Marilyn Monroe, who has died aged 86.

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Marni Nixon's voice could be heard in some of the biggest movie musicals of the Golden Age, as she dubbed Wood in West Side Story, Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Deborah Kerr in The King And I.

She also performed the high notes on Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend for Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The American singer was referred to as "The ghostess with the mostest" and in 2012 won the G eorge Peabody Award for outstanding contributions to American music.

Her agent told the Press Association: "She passed away peacefully, with her family by her side, of breast cancer."

Before her death she worked as a singing teacher in New York, offering master classes and private lessons.

A message on the National Association of Teachers of Singing (Nats) Facebook page said: "We are deeply saddened to share that Nats member and dear friend Marni Nixon died today. Her artistry and voice will live forever in her many recordings and in our memories. RIP."

Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne, wrote on Twitter: "A voice we all love but a name that few of us know.. RIP #MarniNixon,"

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington wrote: "This is sad, she had a joyous voice," while West End actress Rebecca Lock said: "Oh wow......god bless. The voice of my youth."

Nixon was responsible for some of the most famous numbers from the popular musicals, including Getting to Know You from The King and I, I Feel Pretty from West Side Story and I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady.

In 1967 she told the New York Times: " The anonymity didn't bother me until I sang Natalie Wood's songs in West Side Story. Then I saw how important my singing was to the picture. I was giving my talent, and somebody else was taking the credit."

In 1981 she told the same newspaper: " 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."

Born in February 1930, in Altadena, California, she first ventured into showbusiness as a teenager, working as a messenger at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Her first significant dubbing job was singing a Hindu lullaby for Margaret O'Brien in The Secret Garden in 1949.

She ventured on to the stage as Eliza Doolittle in the 1964 version of My Fair Lady at City Centre in New York, after Julie Andrews played the same part in the original Broadway production.

She later played Sister Sophia opposite Andrews in The Sound Of Music.

She enjoyed other musical theatre roles, as well as film and TV appearances, supplying the singing voice of Grandmother Fa in Disney film Mulan in 1998.

She won four Emmys for best actress for her children's TV show Boomerang.

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