Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Barry Humphries on Marilyn Monroe

In the Spectator Diary of the 3 July issue, Barry Humphries writes:
When Arthur Miller shook my hand I could only think that this was the hand that had once cupped the breasts of Marilyn Monroe. I visited Jersey yesterday to see a small Marilyn Monroe exhibition in the Jersey Museum. It was part of a private collection assembled by a colourful local ratbag. The depredations of time had de-eroticised these famous garments, though some of the songs lisped by Marilyn were playing in the background. Alas, few of her fans know that they were mostly mimed by the actress and actually sung by Marni Nixon and Gloria Woods.
I don’t know about Gloria Woods but that isn’t right about Marni Nixon, who inserted the high notes Monroe couldn’t reach in “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – sounds to me as though the whole introduction and maybe a few notes at the end are Nixon not Monroe, whose voice is appealing but very different. But the main part of the song is definitely Monroe:

I did know that Nixon sang Deborah Kerr’s songs in The King and I, Audrey Hepburn’s in My Fair Lady and Natalie Wood’s in West Side Story. I used to have a great LP of her singing songs by Charles Ives; she also recorded Webern, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Copland and Boulez. What an extraordinary career.


Chad Taylor said...

Did you also know Peter Sellers dubbed Humphrey Bogart in Beat the Devil? Bogart was ill and couldn't loop the lines himself.

Later Rich Little dubbed Sellers when he was too sick to perform.

Love stories like that.

Marina72 said...

Thanks for setting the record straight!

Stephen Stratford said...

Chad: no I did not know any of that and I am glad to now. I remember enjoying Rich Little's performances on steam-powered TV - possibly the Andy Williams Show? - but now am tormented by wondering who dubbed him when he was unable to dub Sellars who dubbed Bogart.

Let's not get started on Jamaica.

Marina72: one hesitates to correct Barry Humphries who is the cleverest man I have ever seen (even more than Feyerabend, IMHO) but he was wrong about this. Well, he is an Australian.

Stephen Stratford said...
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