Q is for a quality voice: Marni Nixon

Marni Nixon was taken aback by Andrew Gold’s ‘Lonely Boy’ .

marni_nixonMovie buffs may have seen Deborah Kerr as Anna in The King and I (1956), Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story (1961), and/or Audrey Hepburn as Eliza in My Fair Lady (1964).

But when they sang on screen, their voices were all dubbed by the amazing Marni Nixon. Yet, her name appears nowhere in the films’ credits.

“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…

The studios brought her in to ‘ghost’ Ms. Kerr’s voice once again in the classic tearjerker An Affair to Remember (1957),” and other classic roles.

Listen to:
Marni Nixon – Movie and TV Clips (2006)
Marni Nixon on Dubbing for Marilyn Monroe and Deborah Kerr
Marni Nixon on the game show “To Tell the Truth” (December 7, 1964)

“She finally appeared on screen in a musical in The Sound of Music (1965) starring Julie Andrews… [but] she is only given a couple of solo lines in ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’ as a singing nun.” Still, “she continued on with concerts and in symphony halls while billing herself as ‘The Voice of Hollywood’ in one-woman cabaret shows… Her last filmed singing voice 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).”

One of her children with Ernest Gold was the late Andrew Gold, who had a single Thank You For Being A Friend, which hit #25 on the Billboard charts in 1978. The song was later re-recorded by Cynthia Fee to serve as the theme song for the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls.

In the early 1990s, I saw him perform with group Bryndle, which included Kenny Edwards, Wendy Waldman, and Karla Bonoff.

But I know him best for a song called Lonely Boy, (#7 Billboard, 1977), which “was included in a number of film soundtracks, including Boogie Nights in 1997 and Adam Sandler’s 1998 movie The Waterboy, among others.” Although the lyrics included some facts of his life – “He was born on a summer day 1951” and “In the summer of ’53 his mother brought him a sister” – Gold insisted he had a happy childhood.

From Andrew Gold’s 2011 New York Times obit:

“His mother was taken aback [by ‘Lonely Boy’] She said, ‘Andy, oh, my God, the pain you must have felt.’ But he said he hadn’t even thought of it that way. He thought he was making it up.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 16

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