Ava Gardner and Annette Warren Singing “Bill” from Showboat

1951 Production of Showboat

In the 1951 production of Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” Ava Gardner’s voice is dubbed over by Annette Warren during her performance of “Bill”.


Annette Warren
Annette Warren
Ava  Gardner
Ava Gardner


Here for comparison are both renditions:

Annette Warren:

Ava Gardner:

Whose performance do you prefer?

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From “Ava: My Story”

“Now, I can sing. I do not expect to be taken for Maria Callas, Ella Fitzgerald, or Lena Home, but I can carry a tune well enough for the likes of Artie Shaw to feel safe offering to put me in front of his orchestra. But since Julie’s two songs, “Bill” and “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” are so beloved by everyone, I decided to work as hard as I could to fit the bill. I even found this marvelous teacher, who’d worked with both Lena and Dorothy Dandridge, and we slaved away for several weeks and produced a test record of those two songs.

Then, rather nervously, I took my life into my hands and gave the record to Arthur Freed himself, God Almighty of musical productions. I don’t think the son of a bitch ever even listened to it He just put it on a shelf and delivered the usual studio ultimatum: “Now, listen, Ava, you can’t sing and you’re among professional singers.” So that settled that one.

Or did it? Because the singer they’d chosen to dub my singing had a high, rather tiny voice, totally inappropriate when it was paired with my own speaking voice. The studio spent thousands and thousands of dollars and used the full MGM orchestra trying to get this poor girl right. I mean, there was nothing wrong with her in the first place, except for the obvious fact that she wasn’t me.

Finally, they got Annette Warren, this gal who used to do a lot of my singing off-screen, and they substituted her voice for mine. So my Southern twang suddenly stops talking and her soprano starts singing – hell, what a mess.

When it came to the album version of the movie, things got even worse. Being a great fan of Lena’s, I had copied her phrasing, note for note, on my test record. So they took my record imitating Lena and put earphones on her so she could sing the songs copying me copying her.

But Metro soon found out that they couldn’t legally release the album with my name and image, as they called it, without my voice being part of the package. So then I used earphones to try to record my voice over her voice, which had been recorded over my voice imitating her. I did it note for note, they wiped Lena’s voice off the album, and the record was a success. That’s the way they worked in those days. And I still get goddamn royalties on the thing!”

From Hugh Fordin’s book “The World Of Entertainment!”:

Ava had made up her mind to sing her two numbers herself: no dubbing. Both songs, Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” and “Bill,” not only require a voice but vocal skill of a high degree. Coaching her, Fdens knew from the very start that his efforts were in vain. Accompanying her at the piano, he recorded a test which turned out to be pale, thin and tentative. He decided to audition voice doubles: Marni Nixon, Anita Ellis, Carole Richards and Annette Warren. He found Warren’s singing voice best suited as a match for Gardner’s speaking voice.

When it came to the prerecordings Gardner still insisted on singing the songs herself. As a precaution a set of tracks was also made by Warren.

After a couple of weeks of screening the two scenes for a number of in- and outsiders, Annette Warren was called back to rerecord the songs, now to Gardner’s lip-synch. What ensued until after the production had closed was a kind of a parlor game. Warren’s tracks were in; Warren’s tracks were out. Gardner’s tracks were in, and then they were out; and so on and so forth, depending on the comment of whoever had seen the sequences last.

Before starting the dubbing of the picture, vocal director Lela Simone asked music director Roger Edens “And who is singing?” The answer was a not very enthusiastic: “Ava.”

The picture was previewed on March 22, 1951. The one change that was made afterward was that Gardner’s voice was out and Warren’s voice was in. At the second preview on April 3, the change had a very noticeable and positive effect on the audience.

When Simone asked and Jesse Kaye discussed the forthcoming soundtrack album he felt that for reasons of exploitation and sale Ava Gardner’s name on the cover would be an added plus. Simone took great pains in the dubbing of Gardner’s tracks, backing up her voice with the accompaniments to make her sound more palatable.

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCsYSS6ddT4


Managing stress

October 14, 2014

In this new monthly column high school student Lani Uyeno shares her perspective of trending events and happenings.

Everyone has stress. Whether you are 9 or 99, there’s always some sort of stress in your life. What matters is how you deal with it, and how to keep it at bay. Simple everyday routines, such as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising, can help to lower your stress levels.

Sleep. Everyone loves to sleep. Getting in bed with your favourite book (mine is The Fault In Our Stars), or watching your favourite TV show or movie right before you go to sleep can be a good way to relax. You’ve probably heard this before, but the more sleep you get, the less tired you will be in the morning! Getting enough sleep will leave you more relaxed to start your day. I always try to get at least nine hours of sleep before each school night, but it doesn’t always happen due to late-night sports practices. While nine hours seems to work for me, finding the right amount can be different for everyone. However, getting a good night’s sleep is vital for a good day. For an easier wake up the next morning, I set two alarms: one for 6:50 am, the other for 7:10 am, so that when I hear the 7:10 alarm, I have already partially woken up and I’m not as tired. I also make sure to wake up to Ed Sheeran or One Direction because they always put me in a good mood. On the weekends I love sleeping in until noon if I do not have somewhere to be.

Food. We all need it. Being hungry due to a missed meal can add to stress, but finding something we like to eat can be a challenge. A further daily challenge can be finding something healthy we enjoy eating. Some of my go-to healthier options are carrots or ready-made rice chips or banana bread. I also like to pack my lunch for school, as it stresses me if I have to buy lunch in the cafeteria, which means I have to make sure I get out of class fast enough to beat the other 600 girls who also want their lunch. You should always try to make sure you have fruits and veggies, as they will give you more nutrients so you feel better and more awake, which will in turn help you manage your stress.

Exercising is another very effective way to manage stress. When you exercise, your body releases a chemical called an endorphin, which lowers your stress levels. I get exercise every day from volleyball, soccer or gym class. It is important to make sure that you get enough exercise, but not to the point where you have so many practices and games that sports and exercise become something that will stress you out or worry you. Exercise should be something you enjoy, from something as simple as walking your dog to participating in sports tournaments. When you enjoy something you are more likely to do it! You can also get exercise by always taking the stairs, if that is an option, or walking to and taking the subway rather than getting a ride home (although on rainy and cold days I will ask for a ride!).

Managing stress is important, as it will not simply go away. Knowing how to manage your stress is crucial: when you are stressed out, you aren’t happy. I find that getting enough sleep, eating the right food and enjoying the ways I get exercise all help me to lower and manage my stress.


Inspirational Healers

October 14, 2014

In this new monthly column Azraa Janmohamed shares inspirational personalities in various realms from a 20-something’s perspective.

Whenever someone brings up the age-old Canada vs. USA debate, one of the many things that comes to our minds as Canadians is to simply state that we have universal health care, while the US does not (this usually falls somewhere between the poutine and hockey arguments). While many of us throw out this fact lightly, we don’t often realize the privilege that we have been given. In a utopia, each individual would have access to basic, good quality health care without a hefty price tag—regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, political affiliation or pre-existing conditions. Here in Canada, we have been given just that. However, this is not the reality for the majority of families in the world today, especially those most in need of health care. These families often tend to be located in the poorest and most unstable regions of the world. That’s where Dr. Bernard Kouchner comes in. You may not recognize his name, but no doubt you have heard of the organization he cofounded: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), better known as Doctors Without Borders.

MSF was created by Dr. Bernard Kouchner and Claude Malheuret (current mayor of Vichy, France), on principals similar to those we often overlook here in Canada. Both Dr. Koucher and Claude Malheuret, along with the other doctors and journalists that founded MSF, firmly believed that each and every person deserved the basic human right of access to medical care, regardless of race, religion, creed or political affiliation. It was their belief that this right outweighed the importance of respecting any national border. Since its founding in 1971, MSF has grown to provide aid in over 60 countries, using the volunteer services of over 25,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as logistical experts, sanitation engineers, administrators and water specialists. These individuals come together, superseding their individual identities as national citizens, to work for better health outcomes across the world. Doctors Without Borders is notorious for sending help and resources to some of the most unstable areas in the world. They were present during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 as well as in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s, where they helped to treat epidemics of tuberculosis, cholera and AIDS. Their efforts earned them the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1991, the Canadian arm of MSF has been involved in directing healthcare projects in Colombia, Haiti, Nigeria, Congo and the Ivory Coast, just to name a few. Currently, Canadian healthcare providers are on ground in Liberia to aid with the recent Ebola outbreak.

Healers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be anyone from our moms bringing us soup when we have the flu to the medical professionals that put their careers and lives on hold to volunteer their time to help people in desperate need of good health care. Today, I am going to nominate all of those people, and everyone in between—your family doctor who always greets you with a smile to your local politician fighting to get you better access to medical goods and services. So, to anyone and everyone that plays a role in allowing me access to good quality health care, thank you. You are my hero.