I Could Have Sung All Night: My Story
By Marni Nixon, Billboard Books, 2006
"The Ghostess with the Mostest"*
By the time Marni Nixon was 18, she had performed as a violinist, a child actress (The Bashful Bachelor, 1942), an opera singer, and a concert soloist. She began her film dubbing work as Ingrid Bergman's interior heavenly voices in Joan of Arc (1948) and as Margaret O'Brien singing in The Secret Garden (1949). Nixon went on to perform on Broadway, but "fixed" voices for Hollywood films for years -- most notably Marilyn Monroe's high notes on the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
But we know her best (if we know about her at all) as the singing voice of Deborah Kerr in The King and I and An Affair to Remember, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady -- work for which she received no credit until years after the fact.
Often the studios were so protective of their stars that Nixon had to sign agreements not to reveal her work behind the scenes. Natalie Wood didn't even know her voice was being as extensively dubbed as it was until West Side Story was finished. Nixon says that just the way it was for "playback singers" in Hollywood: every one of them knew they'd get no credit, but that was the job. Some of the stars she dubbed were oomphy about it (Wood) while others were decent and respectful of her talent (Hepburn and Kerr, no duh).
Marni Nixon did make one film appearance as a nun in The Sound of Music, but mostly she performed on stage, in cabarets, in opera -- even hosting a popular children's show in Seattle in the 70s and 80s, for which she won several Emmys. Not too shabby!
An amazing career and a remarkable talent. I should probably read the book.
Interview with Marni Nixon
* "Hollywood: Instant Voice", Time magazine, February 7, 1964