You say you love all those old MGM musicals? All the terrific dancing and the great vocals--Cyd Charisse in "The Band Wagon," Ava Gardner in "Show Boat," Leslie Caron in "Gigi"?
Better think again.
That wasn't Gardner singing "Can't Help Lovin' That Man," and it wasn't Caron singing in "Gigi." The performers who did the actual vocals--Annette Warren (who did Gardner's voice), India Adams (who did Charisse's songs) and Betty Wand (who did the Caron vocals)--turned up at Pepperdine University's Smothers Theatre on Saturday in a program titled "Hollywood's Secret Singing Stars."
Each performer offered reminiscences about her experiences on Hollywood dubbing stages. Warren, for example, noted that Gardner wanted to do her own vocals, and although she was allowed to do so in the actual filming, Warren's vocal was added after the fact.
Equally fascinating were the video projections of some of the scenes dubbed by the three singers. Adams' version of "Two Faced Woman" was particularly interesting. Initially filmed and then dropped from a Charisse picture, it was later used by Joan Crawford in "Torch Song." A split-screen video of the two versions provided a bizarre insight into Hollywood musical trickery.
Despite their lengthy experiences in providing vocals for other actors, all are still first-rate performers with attractive styles of their own. Warren, in particular, sang with a youthful panache that belied the fact that she was performing on the New York theatrical stage as long ago as the early '40s. Her near-operatic medley of songs from "The Phantom of the Opera" was one of the evening's highlights. Adams, with a lovely rendering of "If He Walked Into My Life" (from "Mame") and Wand, with a rhythm-tinged version of "Little Girl Blue," also revealed attractive, undimmed musical talents.