The voice we won’t forget: Marni Nixon, 1930-2016

The singing world of nearly every genre drew a deep sigh of sadness this week, as news of the death of legendary singer Marni Nixon traveled around the world.

Geese from Disney's 'Mary Poppins'
Yup, that’s her — Marni Nixon also voiced the geese from ‘Mary Poppins’. This is just one of many voiceover jobs that has already delighted generations. Click the image to read more about her voiceover legacy.

While most of the world will remember Marni as the voice from behind the scenes, dubbing songs for Deborah Kerr in The King and I; Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady; and Natalie Wood in West Side Story, to name just the top trifecta.  She also  played unknown numbers of voiceover roles for animated and live-action films, many uncredited and even kept secret for years.

Nixon’s 2006 autobiography, ‘I Could Have Sung All Night’, is an engaging read, with many very personal tales from her fascinating life.

Concertgoers and musicians in Southern California will remember her as a teacher at CalArts and the Music Academy of the West, as well as for her numerous guest appearances over the years, setting the standard with a wide variety of ensembles, all the way back to the early days of Roger Wagner and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, one of the many SoCal connections chronicled in the excellent 1995 history of LA music, Evenings On and Off the Roof. These are all mere highlights in a career that spanned many decades, multiple styles and diverse musical communities.  She was known and respected for her talent, her artistry and her warm and generous nature.  She was immensely supportive of younger singers, and served as a role model for generations of hopefuls.

The mainstream news media has payed much attention to this tremendous loss, of course, with a variety of tributes from sites around the globe.  Here are just a few that stand out:

Los Angeles Times

The Film Experience

NPR

New York Times

Variety

Some of the stars she sang for were more appreciative than others. (See the 'Variety' link below.) This is Marni with Deborah Kerr, who was clearly a fan.
Some of the stars she sang for were more appreciative than others. (See the ‘Variety’ link above.) This is Marni with Deborah Kerr, who was clearly a fan.

You can also visit her official website, her page on IMDB and her Wikipedia page to learn more about her many, many credits and enduring legacy.

Thank you, Ms. Nixon, for helping so many people sound great, and for the gifts you’ve given to us all.

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