Marni Nixon Calls Audrey Hepburn a 'Delightful Person,' Talks MY FAIR LADY Experience
Everyone knows her voice. Theatre fans know her name. And dedicated theatre nerds may even recognize her face.
The singing voice behind the characters of Eliza Doolittle in MY FAIR LADY and Maria in WEST SIDE STORY, Marni Nixon recently opened up about her experiences working alongside Audrey Hepburn in MY FAIR LADY.
"She picked me up in her limousine every morning and took me to the studio," Nixon, 85, said in a recent interview for MY FAIR LADY's 50th anniversary release. "I sat in on her singing lessons, so I could hear not only the Cockney and the upper-class British, which are two different voices. But I also had to get her very unique speech patterns, so I had to listen very carefully so I could catch it."
Fortunately for Hepburn fans, Nixon says the actress was just as classy as you would expect. "She was just a delightful person. Very intellectual and fun and respectful - full of sense of humor," Nixon continues. "Yes, very real and warm. It was wonderful."
Nixon says Hepburn was not sold on letting someone else do her singing for her.
"She kept sneaking into the sound stage after I finished dubbing and would say, 'I think I can do myself better,'" Nixon says. "They gave me tapes of her singing, and I could hear her saying [to herself,] 'Oh darn, I think I can do better. Maybe I can't.' She was really hard on herself. But she kept trying."
"She was trying very hard to use as much of herself as possible," Nixon recalls. She notes that Hepburn did eventually get her way and her own singing voice is used for the cockney accent moments, but the soaring, high-class sound is definitely Nixon.
Despite what may appear to have been a competitive environment, Nixon says the whole experience was very cordial. "No, never! Never! It was only appreciation. And she was trying to be as helpful as she could to tell me how to pronounce certain things and approve of it, to make sure it sounded like her - because if she couldn't do it, then she'd work harder to get the pronunciation into me. She was spectacular that way."
My Fair Lady is now more "lovelier" than ever with a breathtaking new restoration playing in cinemas nationwide two days only. In honor of its 50th Anniversary, this eight time OSCAR winning musical has been restored frame-by-frame from the original 65mm negative and scanned (8K to 4K or 2K) utilizing start-of-the-art technology under the supervision of Robert Harris (the famed film historian and preservationist known for his restoration of films including Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, Vertigo and The Godfather Parts I & II).
Gloriously witty adaptation of the Broadway musical about Professor Henry Higgins, who takes a bet from Colonel Pickering that he can transform unrefined, dirty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady, and fool everyone into thinking she really is one, too! He does, and thus young aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill falls madly in love with her. But when Higgins takes all the credit and forgets to acknowledge her efforts, Eliza angrily leaves him for Freddy, and suddenly Higgins realizes he's grown accustomed to her face and can't really live without it.
Bonus content: The Fairest Fair Lady, a 10 minute theatrical trailer produced by Warner Bros. for the film's original release will be added to the event screenings. The Fairest Lady takes a revealing and fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the remarkable efforts that went into making My Fair Lady.