Marni Nixon, Hollywood Singing Voice, Dies at 86

Her voice dubbed over Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady”

Last Updated: July 25, 2016 @ 10:09 AM

Marni Nixon, famous for lending her singing voice to leading ladies in a number of classic Hollywood musicals, died Sunday. She was 86.

Her death was a result of breast cancer complications, Randy Banner, Nixon’s friend told the New York Times.

Nixon dubbed the singing voices for Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story,” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.” The latter two won an Academy Award for Best Picture.

“It got so I’d lent my voice to so many others that I felt it no longer belonged to me,” she told The Times. “It was eerie; I had lost part of myself.”

She was born Margaret Nixon McEathron in Southern California in 1930. Nixon had performed in a few films and even sang with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but it was her time at MGM that brought her into the spotlight.

She had worked as a messenger at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but when the studio found out about her musical talents, they began using her to dub the singing voice for some actresses.

Although she was usually uncredited for her work, it was well known that Nixon was the voice behind some of the famous faces. Time magazine described her as “ghostess with the mostest” in a 1964 article.

Nixon also had a couple of small roles on screen. She played a singing nun in “The Sound of Music,” Eliza Doolittle in the revival of “My Fair Lady” on the New York stage, and she was seen on Broadway in “The Girl in Pink Tights.”

The “playback” soprano was married three times and is survived by two daughters, two sisters, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

More to come…

For the record: A previous version of this story incorrectly swapped the stars for which Nixon sang in “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady.” TheWrap has corrected and regrets the error.