Classic Film : Actresses' distinctive voices

Actresses' distinctive voices

I was reading through kijii's thread about British actor's voices and felt that we need to give the ladies their fair share of attention. However, I don't want to restrict the discussion to one nationality.

Before I begin, I'd like to point out that "distinctive" doesn't necessarily mean "mellifuous" or "sonorous." Irritating speech can also be memorable.

My first picks would be Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel.

I always thought that Leigh had a tendency to let her voice thin out at times, especially when she tried to express intense emotion. Still, she did a wonderful job at keeping her speech under control.

McDaniel would be recognizable as much for the speech patterns - the "stereotypical Negro dialects" - of her characters as for her rich contralto.

What are some of your favorite female voices in classic films?

jj

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Not my favorites... Not even close to being favorites, but they are certainly distinctive: Katherine Hepburn whose voice makes my ears bleed and Grace Kelly. Her annoying affectation had an annoying affectation until she became Princess. Then her voice turned to plain old American, whatever that was about. Still not a favorite of mine, but Audrey Hepburn had a unmistakable voice, and one that has a lovely speaking voice is Julie Andrews.




ALL LIVES MATTER

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Jean Simmons, of course.

Audrey Hepburn's voice was lovely, but not quite up there with Jean Simmons.


A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Jean Arthur -- her director Frank Capra described her voice as sounding like many tinkling bells.

Take 'em to Missouri

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Have you seen the screen test Jean Arthur did for "Gone With The Wind"? I love Jean Arthur but her "Oh, Fiddle Dee Dee's" sound soo wrong and soo funny; me and my roommates used to imitate it all the time.

I told you a million times not to talk to me when I'm doing my lashes!

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Yeah Kar, I have seen that GWTW screen test. Luckily, Jean didn't get the part. Neither did the many others who were tested and were equally unequal to the task.

On the other hand, Vivien Leigh would not have handled the roles of Babe Bennett or Clarissa Saunders or Connie Milligan as well as Arthur did.

So it all evened out in the end.

Take 'em to Missouri

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Good point! That documentary is so great, if only for the screen tests (Melvyn Douglas as Ashley paired with Lana Tuner as Scarlett!)

I told you a million times not to talk to me when I'm doing my lashes!

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

To me, Jean Arthur sounds like the mother of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.
But she made some good movies, and I expect to see some of them this Sunday on TCM.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Billie Burke
Greer Garson
Katharine Hepburn
Marilyn Monroe
Bette Davis
Margaret Lockwood
Jean Simmons
Elizabeth Taylor
Hermione Baddeley
Deborah Kerr
Jean Kent
Margaret Rutherford


Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly .

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Jean Arthur
Maggie Smith


I'm not crying, you fool, I'm laughing!

Hewwo.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Jean Arthur's voice always made me feel that she was ready to burst into tears.

E pluribus unum

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Marjorie Main

Spring Byington

Archie Bunker's wife

Margaret Dumont

Lauren Bacall

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Let's not forget Claudia Cardinale, Jane Fonda, or Shirley MacLaine.
But throughout it all, my motto was "Dignity! Always dignity!".

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

I almost always love Irene Dunne.

I often find that she laughingly talked through her teeth when wanting to be funny or sarcastic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB6hHunQ54s

Favorite movies:
The Awful Truth
Never a Dull Moment
Cimarron
Love Affair
My Favorite Wife and many more.

It might be nice to find You Tubes to try to demonstrate what we are describing.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Kay Francis had a distinctive speech impediment,she pronounced the letters "r" and "l" as "w", which gave rise to the nickname "Wavishing Kay Fwancis."
Many of her films seem to play on this with light comic relief, in Living On Velvet her two leading men characters had the names, Terry and Walter!

Glynis Johns

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Maybe she was the inspiration for Elmer Fudd.
LOL

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Marlene Dietrich - It's twue! It's twue!

"The answers to all of life's riddles can be found in the movies."

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Jean Arthur immediately came to mind, as well as Gene Tierney, Jean Harlow, Thelma Ritter & Una Merkel.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Carrie Snodgress
Lauren Bacall
Jessica Lange
Audrey Hepburn
Vivien Leigh
Butterfly McQueen
Deborah Kerr

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Tallulah Bankhead
Bankhead was famous for her resonant husky voice which she described as "mezzo-basso". Her distinctive voice was the result of chronic bronchitis from a childhood illness, but also because of the fact that she smoked around 150 cigarettes a day!. A flamboyant personality she called everyone "dahling" because, "all my life, I've been terrible at remembering people's names"...

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Bette Davis and Joan Greenwood

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

June Allyson, of course, had a distinct voice, but that is what made so many of us fall in love with her.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Suzanne Pleshette

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Vivien Leigh preferred the stage, and her voice always was a problem for her. But you have to give her credit for doing the best she could with what she was given.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

I've always liked Margaret O'Brien's soft, whispery voice.

Then there is.....

Dorothy Comingore, whose voice in Citizen Kane was worse than screeching chalk on a blackboard. It wasn't her normal voice, but it perfectly defined her low class character.

There is a WB cartoon made about that time about a less than demure damsel whose catch line "TA HAVE" could make your ears bleed. Does anyone recall the name of that cartoon. I've always thought the voice was modeled after Comingore as Kane's wife.


We are the makers of music and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices


There is a WB cartoon made about that time about a less than demure damsel whose catch line "TA HAVE" could make your ears bleed.


I believe you are referring to the 1944 Bugs Bunny classic Little Red Riding Rabbit.

The voice of the bobby-soxer Riding Hood is the always wonderful Bea Benaderet who did most of the female voices in the Warners' cartoons in the 40s. It's one of her funniest performances.




Mice work in mysterious ways.
No, dear. That's God.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnghGxFEVhY

Not the best quality but...

I told you a million times not to talk to me when I'm doing my lashes!

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Thanx for the link, karmala2

I haven't seen that in years. Those WB cartoons are still as funny as when they were new. I would download it, but, as you say, the quality is not very good.

We are the makers of music and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

I'd like to ad:

Mary Wickes
Mildred Natwick
Edith Evans
Joyce Grenfell

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Jean Arthur

Paula Prentiss

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Oh, I forgot Paula Prentiss - what a wonderful voice she has!

Debbie Reynolds has a very nice voice too.

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Joan Greenwood
Fenella Fielding

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

The great Kathleen Freeman.



Redefining Sixty

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Kathleen? I kahn't stahnd her!

Take 'em to Missouri

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Perhahps naht...but I'll wager you'll nehvah forget her.



Redefining Sixty

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

...one more:

Una O'Connor...especially in "The Invisible Man"

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Besides some of the others already mentioned, my list also includes:

Judith Anderson
Anne Baxter
Linda Hunt
Charlotte Rampling
Lena Horne
Shelley Winters
Lillian Gish
Patricia Neal
Brenda Vaccaro
Barbara Stanwyck


FilmFan50

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Some living actresses whose voices I like very much:

Lindsay Wagner (what a great voice!)
Stockard Channing
Sally Kellerman
Jacqueline Bisset (I'd love to go to sleep listening to her voice - it's really
beautiful))
Sigourney Weaver
Diana Rigg
Sophia Loren
Lisa Eichhorn
Joely Richardson
Elke Sommer
Paula Prentiss

Some dead:

Gail Patrick
Janice Rule
Marlene Dietrich
Greer Garson
Dana Wynter
Greta Garbo
Margaret Lockwood
Irene Dunne
Joan Hackett (I love to listen to her)
Carolyn Jones
Jean Simmons
Joan Greenwood
Kay Kendall
Michele Morgan
Dorothy McGuire
Claudette Colbert
Myrna Loy
Veronica Lake
Wendy Hiller
Rita Hayworth
Diana Wynyard
Dinah Sheridan
Jeanne Moreau
Joan Fontaine

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Lyda Roberti...and I wish she had made more films...

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Here she is with Eddie Cantor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eggJJbPT2DU.

jj

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

It's funny how influenced I am by a female voice to be attracted to her. My favorite actresses' voices are...

Debra Winger
Susan Hayward
Janeane Garofalo

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Distinctive (but possibly irritating):

Katharine Hepburn (I love her, but know many who find her and her voice irritating)


not from the classic era:

Fran Drescher
Jennifer Tilly



Great voices, all immediately recognizable:

Maureen O'Hara
Vanessa Redgrave
Audrey Hepburn
Charlotte Rampling
Maggie Smith
Margaret Rutherford

Re: Actresses' distinctive voices

Imogene Coca
Martha Raye
Judy Holliday
Mae Questel
Selma Diamond
Lucille Ball
Carol Burnett
Carol Kane
Bernadette Peters
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