Album:The Sound Of Music: 50th Anniversary Edition
When Marni Nixon died the other day, the subject of dubbing in movie musicals came up. It was much more common than you might think. And in those days, it was a big secret. You weren't supposed to know the vocals were dubbed and it was never credited. So when you watched the 1965 film The Sound Of Music, you thought Christopher Plummer was singing Edelweiss. We now know that Bill Lee dubbed Plummer's singing voice. Lee was born Aug. 21, 1916 in Johnson, NE but he grew up in Des Moines, IA. Lee started out playing the trombone but he started singing in college. After serving in the US Navy during WWII, Lee moved to Hollywood. He was a member of The Mellomen led by Thurl Ravenscroft (voice of Tony The Tiger). The Mellomen mostly worked for Walt Disney. Lee never recorded under his own name. And most of his film work was dubbing his voice for actors who didn't sing. He also recorded plenty of jingles. Lee's singing voice is heard on many Disney films including Alice In Wonderland and Lady and the Tramp. But his voice also appeared in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, South Pacific, Hey, There! It's Yogi Bear, Mary Poppins and of course The Sound of Music. Plummer was cast as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music after director Robert Wise saw him on Broadway. Plummer has said many time he hated making the film. He says he was spoiled by all the meaty roles he did on Broadway. Plummer says the plan was for him to do his own singing. But Wise and musical director Irwin Kostal decided Plummer would sound better if his vocals were augmented. So they brought in Lee and Plummer admits that it is mostly Lee that you hear in the film. There was an art to the kind of singing that Lee and Marni Nixon did. Lee had to sound like Plummer. So it's Lee's voice that you hear on the 50th anniversary edition of The Sound of Music soundtrack. The other singer in the clip Charmian Carr was discovered by Wise. She left the entertainment industry to own an interior design business. For Bill Lee, The Sound of Music was just another job in an anonymous career. His singing voice appeared in The Jungle Book, Thoroughly Modern Millie and many other films and TV shows. He died on Nov. 15, 1980 at age 64. Here's Bill Lee with Charmian Carr performing Edelweiss in the 1965 film The Sound of Music.