Marni Nixon, the Voice Behind My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and More, Dies at 86

Marni Nixon
Marni Nixon. Photo: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

Marni Nixon, who made a career out of “ghosting,” or dubbing over the vocals of numerous stars in classic Hollywood films, has died at 86. Nixon provided a precisely articulated soprano for the likes of Audrey Hepburn (in My Fair Lady), Deborah Kerr (in The King and I), Natalie Wood (in West Side Story), and Marilyn Monroe (in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but only for the high notes). Though, by contract, Nixon’s work was intended to be kept under wraps — sometimes, actresses did not know Nixon was working on a film until after its release — her talents eventually became an open secret, earning her the nickname of “The Ghostess with the Mostess,” or simply, “The Voice of Hollywood.” Aside from her ghost work, Nixon took on only a few credited film roles, as Sister Sophia in The Sound of Music and singing for Grandmother Fa in Mulan. She had a long and successful career as a concert singer, tackling material by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and others, and hosted the Seattle children’s show Boomerang. Onstage, Nixon took roles in The Girl in Pink Tights in 1954 and My Fair Lady in 1964, as well as The Dead (2000), and revivals of Follies (2001) and Nine (2003). Later in life, she chronicled her time in Hollywood with the 2006 memoir, dubbed I Could Have Sung All Night.

Marni Nixon, Voice of My Fair Lady, Dies at 86