Diva/Mensch pair for Feb 1, 2023
The Best Picture winner for 1956 was *Around the World in 80 Days.* Judging from the trailer, it looks like a tiresome Technicolor spectacular. And between Shirley MacLaine playing an Indian princess and a a slew of Native Americans probably played by Latinos from Burbank, it would make for troublesome viewing today. I'm making that movie the Diva.
The Mensch goes to Deborah Kerr for *The King and I,* another Best Picture nominee, and Miss Kerr was nominated for Best Actress. Her singing voice in that movie was provided by the divine Marni Nixon, the Ghostess with the Mostess. She had been working in Hollywood for a few years and getting steady work but this was her first high-profile gig. She and Kerr had a very warm relationship - - Kerr understood that she couldn't sing, and Nixon was a wonderful singer, and her success in the movie would require the two of them working as a team. The two of them stood in the same small booth when they recorded a song. They planned lots of switching between speaking (Kerr) and singing (Nixon). They held hands in the booth and would squeeze the other woman's hand when it was time for her to take over. Here's a video that shows the seamless hand-offs:
Nixon was wrapping up her work on the film and she was called to the producer's office. She was told that her participation in the movie must be kept a secret. No one was to know that Kerr wasn't doing her own singing. Nixon was disturbed by this and she shared it with Kerr. Kerr (a Mensch for the ages) was angered by this and said, "No one told ME I can't talk about it!" And she went to the press and said that a wonderful young singer named Marni Nixon had provided her singing voice, and they had a wonderful collaboration, and a lot of the credit for her performance should go to Nixon.