London, Oct. 21 -- When "My Fair Lady" opens to the public
tomorrow in New York, the familiar role of Eliza Doolittle will be played by Audrey Hepburn,
but the even more familiar tunes will be sung by Marni Nixon.
Miss Nixon, a pretty redhead who played Eliza 47 times in the
New York City Center Light Opera revival of the musical last spring, has been
dubbing songs in Hollywood since she was a teen-ager.
In fact, she has two careers: the backstage singing voice of
such actresses as Natalie Wood ("West
Side Story") and Deborah Kerr
("The King and I"), and as a successful concert soloist.
Miss Nixon will be appearing on the stage of Town Hall, on
Dec. 5 with the Philharmonic of New York.
She was in London earlier this week to record a concert for
the British Broadcasting Corporation's new second channel, and spoke of her
first dubbing role.
"I lived in Los Angeles and had gone work for
as a messenger after high school in 1948," she said.
"I used to play brat parts -- you know, huge freckles, knocked
knees, and I could cross my eyes really well and scream in high C." One day, she
said, "they asked me to dub a Hindu lullaby for
Margaret O'Brien in 'The Secret
Garden' -- and that was the beginning.
Miss Nixon said she came from a musical family. "Donyll, the
eldest of my three sisters, played the clarinet; Adair, the violin; Arial Lea,
the cello; my father, the trumpet and I played the violin."
"We had new neighbors every six months," she said with a
She said she hoped to become a concert violinist but turned to
singing when she found she had absolute pitch.
Miss Nixon's full name is Margaret Nixon McEathron Gold.
Marni, she said, is a combination of her first two names used as a nickname by
the family "because my sisters couldn't pronounce Margaret." She is married to
Ernest Gold, who won an Academy Award for orchestrating the music for "Exodus."
"I'd like to play some of these roles myself, of course," she
said, "and I've got my fingers crossed." Actually, she said, she did play a nun
in the movie version of "The Sound of
Miss Nixon said that dubbing some songs could take up to six
weeks and indicated that it could be a pleasure or a trial depending on the
Miss Nixon said dubbing involved close work on the set between
singing and actress. "I have to know dramatically what she wants to do, but she
has to act in my voice."
She said it got even more complicated when the actress did
most of the singing, but, "I have to carry the tune beyond her range." In that
cast, Miss Nixon said, she wears earphones, with the orchestra coming in one ear
and the actress singing in the other.
Those are the moments when the concert stage seems a heavenly
© 1964 The New York Times