The Phantom Voice of Hollywood

        Today, most people know who Marni Nixon is. They know that she provided the singing vocals for some of Hollywood’s most celebrated films including Audrey Hepburn’s part in George Cuckor’s 1964 film My Fair Lady, which was based on the 1913 play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. However, when these films came out Marni Nixon was never given credit. I feel that this was an injustice and that Marni should get all the credit she deserves.

        The decision to cast Audrey Hepburn as Eliza even though she could not sing the part was not made by George Cuckor; it was not made by Ms. Hepburn; nor was it made by her costar, Rex Harrison, who played Professor Henry Higgins in the film and on the stage. The decision was made by producer Jack Warner. He knew that My Fair Lady was going to be a huge production and wanted a big name actress to play the main role. Julie Andrews had played Eliza on the stage, and Rex Harrison wanted his costar back for the film. Mr. Warner did not feel that Julie Andrews was a big enough name to star in his big production. He wanted a star, and he got one in Audrey Hepburn.

        While Ms. Hepburn acted the part of Eliza well, she did not sing, which I think is a huge deal, considering My Fair Lady is a musical. In the cast list on the Internet Movie Database, Marni Nixon is listed far down on the list and has "uncredited" written by her name. When people saw this movie in 1964, they thought they were hearing Audrey Hepburn sing, when in reality she only sang about ten percent of the music. The remaining ninety percent was sung by Marni Nixon. Even today, if people do not research My Fair Lady, they will never know that someone other than Audrey Hepburn sang.

        Marni Nixon is still alive today and was recently in a production of My Fair Lady as Mrs. Higgins, Henry's mother. Considering she provided the lead vocals for two Best Picture Oscar winners and another Best Picture nominated film, I think that Marni Nixon should at the very least get an honorary Oscar. I also think that she should be officially recognized as a major cast member in the three films that just would not be the same without her--My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and The King and I. That is the least Hollywood can do for this amazing singer, who has firmly left her mark in movie history.

Ashley Williams

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