July 26th, 2016

wss maria by darkyet

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Marni Nixon Remembered: A Wonderful Collaborator, Even if Natalie Wood Didn’t Agree

Stephen Cole

“You are the writer, but I am the author!”

When famed ghost-singer Marni Nixon said those words to me, her ghostwriter, I didn’t quite understand how any of it would work. I had written previous books on my own (“That Book about That Girl,” “Noel Coward: A Bio-bibliography”), but had never been a ghostwriter before. And aren’t they one and the same: author and writer?

What I eventually learned from that “Marni-ese” was that it was all about collaboration. Over the course of a year and a half of intense back and forth work on her memoirs, “I Could Have Sung All Night” (which we almost called “Audrey Hepburn Dubbed My Face”), I came to realize that Marni Nixon was the consummate collaborator.

She was dubbed “the ghostess with the mostest” by Time Magazine when it became public knowledge that she had dubbed Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn in “The King and I,” “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady,” respectively. And although there was great respect from Kerr and Hepburn, Natalie Wood, who expected to sing all her own songs herself, ignored Marni and filmed to only her own pre-recordings.
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