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JackBurley

"Ghost" Voices

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Filmflub wrote in the "Best Movie Soprano Voice" thread: I think that you have found a new assignment, Mister [burley]. You mentioned the GHOST VOICES....I think you that you now have a responsibility to this community [tongue in cheek] to start a new thread. Particularly since you mentioned the oft-overlooked work of Marilyn Horne "vocalling" for Dorothy Dandridge - and ADMIRABLE job!! Think of it - Marni Nixon, Marilyn Horne, Martha Mears, Nan Wynn, Trudi Erwin....the Lisa Kirk debacle in GYPSY...yes, you've got a lot of material to work with.... "

 

So here goes... I'll start off by mentioning the ironic tale of Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain, the movie about the birth of vocal dubbing. Jean Hagen's character looks beautiful, but sounds like a harridan. The film's answer? Dub her voice with the dulcet tones of Debbie Reynolds. Except that Debbie's voice in the movie is, in turn, dubbed by Betty Noyes.

 

Now Mr. flub, please tell us about Lisa Kirk. She created the role of Bianca in Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate on Broadway. What's her connection to the movie version of Gypsy?

 

India Adams, anyone?

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So here goes... I'll start off by mentioning the ironic tale of Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain, the movie about the birth of vocal dubbing. Jean Hagan's character looks beautiful, but sounds like a harridan. The film's answer? Dub her voice with the dulcet tones of Debbie Reynolds. Except that Debbie's voice in the movie is, in turn, dubbed by Betty Noyes.

 

The twisted tale of Reynolds' dubbing of Hagen in SITR doesn't end there, Jack. In the scene when Reynolds' "Kathy Selden" is seen dubbing Hagen's "Lina Lamont's" dialogue in the film ("Nothing will keep us apart. Our love will last 'till the stars turn cold."), it was ultimately determined that Reynolds' speaking voice was too Texas-accented to convey the refined dialogue believably. The solution: Hagen used her own naturally cultured speaking voice to dub this snippet of SPOKEN dialogue.

 

Thus, in perhaps the greatest of all cinematic ironies, in perhaps the most famous of all "dubbing" movies, we have Hagen dubbing Reynolds dubbing Hagen!

 

Just another reason to support the argument that Hagen really deserved that "Best Supporting Actress" Academy Award for which she was nominated for this film.

 

Another bit of dubbing irony: Although she originated the role of "Bloody Mary," in the original Broadway production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein show South Pacific, in the film version Juanita Hall's vocals were dubbed by Muriel Smith. Why? Because Smith played the role in the London production and Rodgers and Hammerstein, who retained approval rights on the casting of the film version, decided they preferred Smith's voice to Hall's.

 

PS Another operatic singer who contributed to the film dubbing lexicon was Giorgio Tozzi, who dubbed Rossano Brazzi's vocals in the film version of SP.

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Now Mr. flub, please tell us about Lisa Kirk. She created the role of Bianca in Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate on Broadway. What's her connection to the movie version of Gypsy?

 

I know I'm not Mr Flub, but.... Didn't Lisa do large portions of Rosalind Russell's singing in at least one version of Gypsy? AMC (the late, great, lamented one...) showed the "alternate" version a couple of times, with either all or most of RR singing her own role. There was something about "Little Lamb," too; Natalie recorded it, but did Marni get into the actual (usual) soundtrack? That's been close to 10 years ago, and I'm relying on memory only.

 

India Adams, anyone?

 

Joan Crawford in Torch Song - story in whichever volume of "That's Entertainment."

 

And now - my own, fueled by discussion in another thread. And unusual, to say the least. What deceased singer dubbed for an actor who achieved superstardom, for just a minute or so, in a movie (shown very recently) made the same year as one of his biggest hits but little known today (I never heard of it till now). I was listening and, not really expecting the actor to sing, started getting goosepimples at the voice. Who IS that? I know the voice almost as well as my own (probably 50 or so records - mostly 78s), but.... Just as it hit me, it must have hit the person who beat me to the post.

 

Quite an accomplishment, getting a dead man to dub for you! (And not in an opera film)

Bill

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And now - my own, fueled by discussion in another thread. And unusual, to say the least. What deceased singer dubbed for an actor who achieved superstardom, for just a minute or so, in a movie (shown very recently) made the same year as one of his biggest hits but little known today (I never heard of it till now). I was listening and, not really expecting the actor to sing, started getting goosepimples at the voice. Who IS that? I know the voice almost as well as my own (probably 50 or so records - mostly 78s), but.... Just as it hit me, it must have hit the person who beat me to the post.

 

Hmmm....Great question, Bill!

 

The only example I can think of that might fit your criteria is Buddy Clark's dubbing of William Holden in Father Was a Bachelor?

 

I'm not sure if the film was shown recently, but I do know the film was produced/released around the time of Clark's tragic death in a plane crash in 1949, but I'm not sure if it was released after Clark's death or not.

 

Quite an accomplishment, getting a dead man to dub for you! (And not in an opera film)

 

Agreed. Never underestimate the "magic" of the movies!

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The only example I can think of that might fit your criteria is Buddy Clark's dubbing of William Holden in Father Was a Bachelor?

 

Right. It was shown yesterday morning. I hadn't bothered to IMDB-it, so didn't realize it was in production WAY before Sunset Boulevard. That explains a LOT!

 

Buddy died in early 1949, in a plane crash - travelling between the two coasts for radio shows (and movies, I guess) in NYC and Hollywood; two years after Grace Moore died on tour in Stockholm in a plane that never quite got airborne.

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Buddy died in early 1949, in a plane crash - travelling between the two coasts for radio shows (and movies, I guess) in NYC and Hollywood; two years after Grace Moore died on tour in Stockholm in a plane that never quite got airborne.

 

Hi Bill:

 

I think Buddy was returning from a football game (he was a great sports enthusiast) when he perished in that plane crash. My father was a great fan of his (understandably, because he was a brilliant vocalist) and I bought a CD of Buddy's radio performances as a Christmas gift for my Dad several years ago. In what I thought was in rather poor taste, the producers of the CD included a photo of the plane crash, including Buddy's body lying a few feet away from it, in the liner notes for the CD. I think the notes also included a contemporary article which stated that he was returning from a football game for one of his radio broadcasts when the plane went down.

 

Incidentally, in addition to William Holden, Buddy Clark also dubbed the vocals for Mark Stevens in I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now and for Jack Haley, playing a talented singer afflicted with "mike fright" in Wake Up and Live, a role that Haley later described as his favorite of his career. He may have dubbed some other stars, but I can't think of any at the moment.

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great thread...I do want to add one thing to the Singin' in the Rain dubbing comments--Debbie Reynolds was only dubbed by Betty Noyes in the Would You number, when her character is supposed to be dubbing for Jean Hagen. Debbie did her own vocals for the other songs.

 

I know that Marni Nixon dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, but could someone list her other dubbing jobs?

 

And who did the dubbing for Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl? I always thought that was one of the best dubbing jobs. The singer sounds as though she could be Hayworth, if Rita had a trained voice.

 

Sandy K

 

Message was edited by:

sandykaypax

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I know that Marni Nixon dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, but could someone list her other dubbing jobs?

 

Hi Sandy:

 

Marni Nixon also dubbed Margaret O'Brien's singing in The Secret Garden (1949) and (I think) Big City {1948).

 

She also dubbed Deborah Kerr's vocals twice: in both The King and I (1956) and An Affair To Remember (1957), and Natalie Wood's in West Side Story. She actually appeared onscreen as one of the nuns ("Sister Sophia") in the film version of The Sound of Music, and, I imagine, dubbed some of the other performers in that film as well.

 

Her autobiography has recently been published, but I haven't seen it, so I don't know what other dubbing jobs she might list on her resume.

 

And who did the dubbing for Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl? I always thought that was one of the best dubbing jobs. The singer sounds as though she could be Hayworth, if Rita had a trained voice.

 

I think it was Martha Mears. She dubbed many stars around that time, including Lucille Ball, Veronica Lake and Hedy Lamarr, among others. I think she may also have dubbed Rita in Tonight and Every Night, so Columbia probably considered her a good match for Rita's singing voice.

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...and (I think) Big City {1948).

 

Though I have yet to see it, yes, she did that one too. Thank you, Marni, for sparing us from countless awful singing voices.

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"India Adams, anyone?

 

Joan Crawford in 'Torch Song' - story in whichever volume of 'That's Entertainment.'"

 

You can't get off that easy, Mr. McCrary!

 

India Adams was designated the voice of Cyd Charisse and did some vocals for her in The Band Wagon. So that's who we hear during "New Sun in the Sky" and "That's Entertainment". For those who don't have a copy of That's Entertainment III handy, this clip fest shows Ms. Charisse's number, "Two-Faced Woman", which was dubbed by Adams but was cut from Band Wagon. The clip is shown in tandem with Crawford's version when they reused the vocal track.

 

Soon after, Carol Richards took over for Ms. Adams and sang Ms. Charrisse's vocals for Silk Stockings, It's Always Fair Weather and Brigadoon.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Natalie recorded it, but did Marni get into the actual (usual) soundtrack?

 

I don't believe Ms. Nixon did any vocals for Gypsy. By the way (and this might be apocryphal), but I understand the original idea for Gypsy's casting was to have Judy Garland play Mama Rose to Ann-Margret's Gypsy Rose Lee. Now that I would've liked to have seen...

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

I wonder how many singers dubbed for actors playing the character of the "ghost voice"? For instance, Al Jolson did the singing for Larry Parks, who played the title character in The Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again. Jane Froman did the singing when Susan Hayward portrayed her in With a Song in My Heart. Any others?

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This isn't really ghost dubbing, but I always thought if was neat that Gloria de Haven sang "Who's Sorry Now?" in Three Little Words, portraying her mom Flora (Mrs. Carter) de Haven, who introduced the Kalmar-Ruby song. Flora was about 42 years old when Gloria was born.

 

Regarding Rita Hayworth, I think Nan Wynn does a beautiful job for her in You Were Never Lovelier, and I think Hayworth does about the best lip-synching in that film that I have ever seen. John P. Livadary was nominated for it for Best Sound Recording Oscar that year, but lost to Nathan Levinson (Yankee Doodle Dandy).

 

> I wonder how many singers dubbed for actors playing

> the character of the "ghost voice"? For instance, Al

> Jolson did the singing for Larry Parks, who played

> the title character in The Jolson Story and

> Jolson Sings Again. Jane Froman did the

> singing when Susan Hayward portrayed her in With a

> Song in My Heart. Any others?

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"Regarding Rita Hayworth, I think Nan Wynn does a beautiful job for her in 'You Were Never Lovelier', and I think Hayworth does about the best lip-synching in that film that I have ever seen. ..."

 

I didn't know Nan Wynn dubbed for Rita Hayworth. Ms. Hayworth certainly had many voices. Martha Mears has already been noted, and I'll add that Anita Ellis sang her Gilda vocals.

 

Great item about Gloria DeHaven's mother, Ms. Ayres.

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Thanks, Jack!

 

I believe Martha Mears also dubbed for Marjorie Reynolds in Holiday Inn and for Lucille Ball in The Big Street.

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Let's not forget the numerous voice doubles for Virginia Mayo, Jeanne Crain, Vera-Ellen, Alexis Smith, Claire Trevor, Audrey Totter, Mary Beth Hughes, Leslie Brooks, Joan Leslie, Eleanor Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Sheree North, Adele Jergens, Helen Parrish, Kay Francis, Mona Freeman and so many, many more. Dubbings were actually used even more often in B musicals and B westerns than in major films - the list is absolutely endless!

 

Even singing actresses like Ann Sheridan, June Haver, Patricia Morison, Gale Storm etc. were dubbed at least once (even several times in some cases) for various reasons.

 

Martha Mears alone sang for over 50 actresses during her career - no one even comes close.

 

The recently deceased Martha Tilton sang for over 20 actresses during the War Years, all the while pursuing her own recording career.

 

The number of actresses who were dubbed far outnumbered the number of actors through the years, a ratio of about 1 / 12 throughout the 30s, 40s and 50s.

 

This has been my favorite topic (and longtime study) for years, so I could not help jumping into the conversation :-)

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On my husband's vintage jazz radio program, he paid tribute to Martha Tilton just after her death. Your mentioning her, CineKarine, makes me think of a story he told of how proud she was that people were recognizing her voice coming out of other actresses for whom she had dubbed.

 

I think I've posted this before, but for anyone who may have missed it:

 

http://www.classicimages.com/1998/november98/idibthee.html

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Just got through reading that article. WOW!

I remember (and have kept handy) the article from High Fidelity magazine, but never knew anything like all the stories (and details) in the Classic Images article.

 

Thanks so much.

 

If you've said, I didn't see it - your husband, with a jazz program, is he somebody those of us not from your area would know (of)?

 

Bill

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markus, thanks for the info on Marni NIxon. I had forgotten that she sang for Natalie Wood in West Side Story--one of my favorite musicals. Her voice is very pretty and light.

 

Several of my theatre students were talking about the stage tour of Disney's High School Musical that is all the rage right now. It seems that one of the young men in the movie was dubbed and he is not in the live show. We had a discussion in class about why a non-singing actor would be cast in a singing role in a film. It reminded me of when I was a teenager and I found out that Natalie Wood had been dubbed as Maria. I was crushed!

 

Sandy K

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Jack wrote: India Adams was designated the voice of Cyd Charisse and did some vocals for her in The Band Wagon. So that's who we hear during "New Sun in the Sky" and "That's Entertainment". For those who don't have a copy of That's Entertainment III handy, this clip fest shows Ms. Charisse's number, "Two-Faced Woman", which was dubbed by Adams but was cut from Band Wagon. The clip is shown in tandem with Crawford's version when they reused the vocal track.

 

I have that dvd, Jack. I love to watch that clip with Cyd Charisse--she looks lovely. Joan, however, looks grotesque in the clip from Torch Song. What is with the dark make-up? And the bright pink lipstick? I've never seen Torch Song, so I don't know the context of the Two Faced Woman number in the film.

 

Sandy K

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markus, thanks for the info on Marni NIxon. I had forgotten that she sang for Natalie Wood in West Side Story--one of my favorite musicals. Her voice is very pretty and light.

 

You're welcome, Sandy:

 

Nixon was/is a very talented and versatile vocalist, though, personally, I think her light, thin soprano was too refined and moochromatic to be really believable as the singing voice of the Cockney flower girl "Eliza Doolittle" in the first half of the film version of My Fair Lady. She seems more appropriate after Eliza's transformation into the "Lady" in the latter half.

 

PS Not wishing to shatter any other illusions you may have concerning the film version of WSS, but not only was Natalie dubbed, but Richard Beymer and Rita Moreno were also. Moreno was dubbed by Betty Wand, who also dubbed Leslie Caron's vocals in Gigi. Her dubbing by Wand was yet another case of Hollywood preferring the voice of a "ghost singer" for a role played by someone who possessed some innate singing talent.

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There was an interview of the "Queen of Ghost Voices", Marni Nixon in today's New York Times. The article was inspired by her casting in the role of Mrs. Higgins in the upcoming New York Philharmonic's concert version of My Fair Lady. Here's an excerpt:

 

 

 

"For her part, Ms. Nixon, 77, said she understood perfectly why the studio moguls chose to place famous faces in the starring roles and relegate her to the shadows. 'Hollywood wanted recognizable stars,' Ms. Nixon said. 'And the fact that a lot of the stars couldn?t sing was only a minor inconvenience to the big producers.'

 

 

 

Her first dubbing job was for Miss [Margaret] O?Brien in The Secret Garden (1949). Miss O?Brien, 12 at the time, was one of Hollywood?s top child stars. Ms. Nixon was 19.

 

 

 

Her first major job, she said, was singing the role of Anna in The King and I (1956). 'Deborah [Kerr] was tough to work with, but she was a complete professional,' Ms. Nixon said. 'We worked on phrasing, we worked on interpretation, everything. It?s hard to believe now, but each number took a week.'

A dubber, Ms. Nixon explained, doesn?t simply substitute her voice for the actress?s voice. 'The important thing is to sound as the actress would sound if she were doing the actual singing,' she said.

 

 

 

It being Hollywood, of course, sometimes the jobs verged on the ludicrous. Her work with Marilyn Monroe, for instance, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), consisted of just one phrase in one song ? perhaps the musical?s most famous, 'Diamonds Are a Girl?s Best Friend'. The phrase: 'These rocks don?t lose their shape.' If the studio bosses had had their way, Ms. Nixon said, she would have done more. 'Actually, the studio wanted her entire voice dubbed,' she said. 'They thought her voice was silly. I thought her voice suited her persona beautifully.'

 

 

 

In 1964, when Ms. Nixon was tapped to sing Eliza Doolittle in George Cukor?s screen version of My Fair Lady, one of her chief concerns was how the choice would sit with Julie Andrews, who had had great success with the role onstage but was passed over by Hollywood for the established star: [Audrey] Hepburn.

 

 

 

?I did the job,? Ms. Nixon said, ?but I felt uneasy,? especially when she and Ms. Andrews later worked together in The Sound of Music. The story is now part of Hollywood lore: Ms. Andrews came out ahead by starring in Disney?s Mary Poppins and winning the Oscar for best actress in the same year that My Fair Lady was released. Ms. Andrews seemed to harbor no grudges, Ms. Nixon said. When the two appeared in The Sound of Music, she said, Ms. Andrews made a point of seeking her out, shaking her hand and saying, ?I like your work.? When Ms. Nixon was cast as Eliza in a City Center revival of My Fair Lady, Ms. Andrews helped her overcome anxiety about handling the role.

 

 

 

Ms. Nixon received a modest reward for her highly praised dubbing work: stepping in front of the camera before millions of people as a presenter at the 1969 Academy Awards. The category? Best musical score.

 

 

 

Perhaps naturally, not all the people whose voices she dubbed were happy about it. When filming West Side Story, [Natalie] Wood refused to cooperate, and Ms. Nixon worked by herself on the musical numbers. It was not entirely Wood?s fault; the studio bosses were keeping her in the dark about Ms. Nixon?s true role. ?She thought I was there for backup and that she would be doing the entire picture,? Ms. Nixon said. ?In fact, they didn?t like her singing, and, without telling her, proceeded to use my voice.? And when Wood found out? ?Well, she was enraged,? Ms. Nixon said.

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