Marni Nixon, 1930-2016
You certainly don’t know the face.
And you probably don’t know the name.
But you surely know the voice.
Or, more properly, The Voice.
You see, when Deborah Kerr was singing wonderfully about what she does whenever she feels afraid in The King and I that wasn’t Deborah Kerr singing about what she does when she feels afraid in The King and I. It was Marni Nixon.
And when the very pretty Natalie Wood was singing that she feels pretty in West Side Story, that wasn’t Natalie Wood singing about feeling pretty. It was Marni Nixon.
And when Audrey Hepburn sang about how loverly it would be to have a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, in My Fair Lady, that wasn’t Audrey Hepburn singing about having a better life. It was Marni Nixon.
Hollywood likes to make musicals but there aren’t that many people in Hollywood who can both sing and act. For some of the greatest musicals, the answer to this problem was to hire Marni Nixon, who would step in and sing the lead roles for the non-singing stars. In addition to these roles, Ms. Nixon sang Margaret O’Brien’s role in the 1948 movie Big City and the following year’s The Secret Garden and even hit the high notes for Marilyn Monroe in the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” In addition to singing Natalie Wood’s role in West Side Story she also sang in one song for Rita Moreno. She was even the voice of the angels that Ingrid Bergman heard in the movie Joan of Arc.
Yes, Marni Nixon really was the voice of the angels.