After watching a 12 minute sequence on You Tube (“Martha Mears, The Busiest Dubber in Hollywood”) , I realised I had found another piece of Hollywood history that I was unfamiliar with. Singer MARTHA MEARS dubbed for so many stars, the list is almost endless.
Why is she not spoken about more. I don’t know, but there can be no doubt that she was the top female song dubber in classic Hollywood. Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball, Hedy Lamarr, Audrey Totter, Loretta Young, Claudette Colbert – Martha was the singing voice of all these stars, and many more.
It’s Martha’s voice you hear singing “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby in HOLIDAY INN.
I haven’t been able to find out much about Martha. She was active in Hollywood from 1940 to 1951. She was born in Sugar Creek, Missouri in 1910 and died in Versailles , Missouri in 1986.She appeared in a couple of shorts, DARN THAT DREAM(1940) and IN THE GROOVE (1941), and played nightclub singers in ROAD BLOCK and MY FOOLISH HEART ( in which she sings the famous title song without having to sound like anyone other than herself).
She was undoubtedly the’ go-to ‘ singer for the studios in the 1940s and it’s a pleasure to give her the recognition she deserves. ( and I’ll take another look at Road Block .)
By way of showing some of the actresses she sang for, below are illustrations from the films she worked on. What a skill she had, to change her voice to suit the actress she was dubbing for.
Another ‘if only ‘ instance – an interview with Ms Mears would have been fascinating.
Claudette Colbert. ZAZA.
Anne Shirley. FOUR JACKS AND A JILL
Dubbing for Maria Montez.
Carole Landis. ROAD SHOW.
Lucille BALL .THE BIG STREET
Lucille Ball. DUBARRY WAS A LADY
Marjorie Reynolds. HOLIDAY INN.
Michele Morgan. HIGHER AND HIGHER.
Martha dubbed Patricia Morison though heaven knows why -Patricia was the original Broadway star of KISS ME KATE.
Singing for Hedy Lamarr.
Julie Bishop. ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC.
Rita Hayworth’s voice.
All of Rita’s songs in COVER GIRL.
It’s Martha’s luscious tones you hear in that beautiful song, “Long Ago and far away”.
Dubbing for Virginia Huston who plays night club singer.
Audrey Totter’s singing voice.
Singing for Belita in THE GANGSTER, with Barry Sullivan.
Veronica Lake.I WANTED WINGS.
( Martha also sang for Veronica in THIS GUN FOR HIRE, STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM.)
Sonia Henie. THE COUNTESS OF MONTE CRISTO.
Loretta Young. HALF ANGEL.