re: The messy brilliance of the MY FAIR LADY film (VERY LONG)
Last Edit: AlanScott 06:19 am EDT 04/03/21
Posted by: AlanScott 06:17 am EDT 04/03/21
In reply to: re: The messy brilliance of the MY FAIR LADY film (VERY LONG) - BroadwayTonyJ 05:45 pm EDT 04/01/21

Oh, I don't think you're being a jerk. If anything, I feel like I was a bit snarky in my reply above. I should first say that the reply below by TheOtherOne is thoroughly correct as far as I know.

I'll give quotes from some of the articles I found before I posted my earlier reply. There were more, but I often labor too long over replies here, sometimes never completing them to my satisfaction and therefore never posting them.

In a Newsday article titled "'My Fair Lady' Dancing Along," from the edition dated November 8, 1963 (11 months before the film's release), Hepburn was quoted thus:

"As for the singing, I have recorded all the songs, and the girl (soprano Marni Nixon) has recorded them, too. Now it is up to the studio as to which will be used. I expect the songs will emerge as a combination of us both.

"I have done my best, but after all, I am not a singer. And some of the songs are not easy. 'I Could Have Danced All Night' is practically an aria."

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of November 20, 1963, “At Random" columnist Harold V. Cohen wrote that Hepburn's vocal coach, Sue Seiger Seton, praised her highly and said that she “will be a revelation." But he told his readers that Frederick Loewe had told him this: “Forget it. Audrey won't sing a note. She'll be a wonderful Eliza. I've seen some of the rushes, but the numbers will be dubbed in for her by somebody else." Cohen then wrote that Jack L. Warner insisted to him a couple of days later that “Audrey will do every song herself."

Cohen then quoted Hepburn (as quoted in AP dispatch by Bob Thomas): "I have already recorded all of the songs for 'My Fair Lady.' So has Marni Nixon. The studio has both soundtracks. It's entirely up to the powers that be which sound track [sic] they use."

On March 17, 1964, Daily News “On the Town" columnist Charles McHarry reported (somewhat inaccurately) that “Marni Nixon, the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in the film version of 'My Fair Lady,' actually will do the Liza Doolittle role in a West Coast stage production this spring."

In the Elmira Star Gazette on May 4, 1964, Dorothy Kilgallen’s syndicated column reported that “Marni Nixon, who has done soundtrack singing for Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn, took the lead in the upcoming City Center production of 'My Fair Lady' . . ..”

Btw, I have found that syndicated columns often appeared in different papers on different dates. This was true even for daily columnists. So when I give these dates, it may be that the column from which I'm quoting appeared in other papers on different dates than the ones I mention here.

In the Newsday review of the City Center production, which appeared in the issue dated May 21, 1964, second-stringer Ron Ever mentioned that Nixon “will be the voice of Audrey Hepburn in the upcoming movie version of 'My Fair Lady.'"

To save my fingers and your time, I will merely mention that were several (or more than several) other syndicated columns and articles during late May and June, including at least two articles completely about Nixon, in which it was mentioned that Nixon would be the singing voice of Hepburn in the My Fair Lady film. Every one I have found says simply that Nixon did the singing (or words to that effect), not that there would be a mix of Hepburn’s and Nixon's voices in the songs. One article about Nixon was by AP theatre critic William Glover. On June 28, 1964, it appeared in the Chicago Tribune with the title “'Ghostess' Now Sings for Herself." From this one:

"For the least-kept secret of the entertainment year is that she [Nixon] is Audrey Hepburn’s vocalizing alter-ego in the movie version of 'My Fair Lady' which premieres next October.

"Miss Nixon, pledged to contractual silence on the matter, anxiously looks away when the topic arises."

As I mentioned in my earlier reply, Douglas Watt, reviewing the soundtrack album in his Daily News “Record Review" column, made it clear that Nixon did the singing and that Hepburn was hardly heard at all. The review was titled “Marni & Rex." It’s not clear if he realized that Hepburn’s voice was heard singing the interlude in "Just You Wait." He does seem to have realized that Hepburn was heard at least in a few spoken lines. The review was in the issued dated October 4, 1964. The film opened on October 21.

On the day of the films opening, the New York Times ran an article by Richard F. Shepard titled “Eliza Doolittle, Ex-Urchin, to Start New Career." Near the end of the article, he wrote “. . . Marni Nixon, a singer, substitutes for Miss Hepburn's voice in the songs."

So in all of these columns and articles, except for those early ones in which Hepburn was quoted, it seemed as if the writers thought that Nixon would be doing all of the singing.

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