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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where is my voice?

As an Austrian born actress, Marisa Mell went during the mid 60's to Rome, Italy to persue further her acting career. Classically trained at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, Austria she studied every subject needed at that time to build a prosperous stage and movie career like fencing, horse riding, language and dialogue,... but foreign languages where not on the curriculum of the school. Hence she had to teach herself the Italian language and after several months she was quite good at speaking it and after several years it became her language of preference talking like an Italian born women. But that was not enough for the Italian movie producers. They almost always dubbed Marisa Mell with the voice of an Italian (voice) actress because her own voice did not sounded Italian enough for them. The same happened to her Italian movies being dubbed into English for the English language market. Although Marisa Mell spoke English, as witnessed in the movie "French Dressing", you could always hear her Austrian accent. So out went the original voice of Marisa Mell and in came the dubbing voice.

Debra Winger and Carolyn de Fonseca in
"The Sheltering Sky" from 1990
One of the most famous voice actresses to dub Marisa Mell into English for the movie "La Belva col Mitra" was Carolyn de Fonseca. Carolyn de Fonseca was an American actress and voice dubbing artist based in Rome, Italy. She was known for her sensual, breathy voice and has worked extensively as a voice actress for the English language dubbing of several hundred foreign (mostly Italian) films from the early 1960's and onwards. She was also the wife of actor/voice dubber Ted Rusoff, whom she frequently worked with. Carolyn first came to Rome, Italy in the early 1960's and tried to make a career for herself as an actress. She played a small role in the acclaimed "A Difficult Life" (1961), directed by Dino Risi, and had a decently sized supporting role as Chloe, the love potion maker, in the peplum "Damon and Pythias" (1962). She also had bit part roles in some big productions that did shooting in Italy, such as "Barabbas" (1962) and "The Pink Panther" (1963) but Carolyn de Fonseca never really found much success as an actress. However, with many Italian films being prepared for international releases, native English speakers were in demand to work with dubbing, and Carolyn quickly became a prolific and successful voice dubbing artist. Some of Carolyn's earliest dubbing work was in the film "The Loves of Hercules" (1960). The film was post synchronized but its leading lady Jayne Mansfield did not dub her own voice, which led to Carolyn dubbing Mansfield's voice in the English version of the film. Subsequently, Carolyn would go on to dub Mansfield's voice in all of Mansfield's European films such as "Primitive Love" (1964) and "Dog Eat Dog" (1964). It was also Carolyn who provided Mansfield's narrator voice in the infamous quasi-documentary "The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield" (1968). Released after Mansfield's death, this mondo-style cult documentary consists of footage of Mansfield visiting various night clubs, beaches... while narrating her experiences. Since Mansfield died before the film's completion, Carolyn performs the task of voicing Mansfield's thoughts and narration. In the 1960's, Carolyn dubbed many leading ladies into English but eventually became more prolific in dubbing villainesses in various peplum and horror films. After a supporting role in the caper film "Midas Run" (1969) with Fred Astaire and Richard Crenna, she would give up her acting career and focus solely on dubbing films into English. She specialized in voicing bitchy, arrogant vixens such as the evil queen, played by Jany Clair, in "Hercules vs. the Moon Men" (1964), a bitchy tourist, played by Silvia Solar, in "Eyeball" (1975) and the deranged, violent inmate Albina in "Women's Prison Massacre" (1983). She would also typically dub exotic figures, or lust-craving upper-class nymphomaniacs such as a sex hungry asylum patient, played by Rosalba Neri, in "Slaughter Hotel" (1971), and a sassy, black nightclub performer, played by Carla Brait, in "The Case of the Bloody Iris" (1972). Carolyn would also sometimes deliver very over the top performances; dubbing the voices of sobbing and hysterical figures such as a paranoid asylum patient, played by Rossella Falk, in "Seven Blood-Stained Orchids" (1972), a sexually frustrated housewife, played by Carroll Baker, in "My Father's Wife" (1976), and a half-crazy drug addicted nun, played by Anita Ekberg, in "The Killer Nun" (1978). As the Italian film industry was slowing down somewhat in the 1980's, Carolyn resumed her career as a film actress in various American films that were shot in Rome, while still continuing to work with dubbing. On screen she played Christopher Reeve's secretary in "Monsignor" (1982), had a fairly sized supporting role in the Pia Zadora flick "The Lonely Lady" (1983), played a comedic role as an American tourist in "Detective School Dropouts" (1986) and finally appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Sheltering Sky" (1990) with Debra Winger. On television, she appeared in the highly acclaimed mini series "The Winds of War" (1983). She also appeared alongside her real-life husband Ted Rusoff in the mini series "Mussolini and I" (1985), in which they play the parents of Mussolini's mistress, Claretta Petacci, and played a supporting part in the TV movie thriller "The Fifth Missile" (1986). Carolyn de Fonseca died in November 2009.

Selection of her dubbing roles which read as a who's who of Eurocult actresses and cult movies:

1960-The Loves of Hercules-Queen Dianira-Jayne Mansfield
1961-Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules-Queen Halis Mosab-Moira Orfei
1963-Thor and the Amazon Women-Black Queen-Janine Hendy
1963-The Whip and the Body-Nevenka Menliff-Daliah Lavi
1964-Dog Eat Dog-Darlene-Jayne Mansfield
1964-Hercules vs. the Moon Men-Queen Samara-Jany Clair
1964-The Last Man on Earth-Ruth Collins-Franca Bettoia
1964-Primitive Love-Dr. Jane-Jayne Mansfield
1965-Terror-Creatures from the Grave-Cleo Hauff-Barbara Steele
1968-The Great Silence-Regina-Marisa Merlini
1969-Venus in Furs-Olga-Margaret Lee
1969-A Woman on Fire-Clarissa Renos-Françoise Prévost
1970-Queens of Evil-Bibiana-Ida Galli
1970-Shadow of Illusion-Gail Bland-Daniela Giordano
1971-Blackie the Pirate-Isabel-Silvia Monti
1971-Slaughter Hotel-Anne Palmieri-Rosalba Neri
1971-The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh-Carol-Cristina Airoldi
1972-The Case of the Bloody Iris-Mizar Harrington-Carla Brait
1972-Don't Torture a Duckling-Maciara-Florinda Bolkan
1972-Manhunt Trini-Francesca-Romana Coluzzi
1972-The Red Queen Kills Seven Times-Lulu Palm-Sybil Danning
1972-Seven Blood-Stained Orchids-Elena Marchi-Rossella Falk
1972-Shadows Unseen-Simona-Marilù Tolo
1972-Smile Before Death-Gianna-Rosalba Neri
1973-The Arena-Cornelia-Rosalba Neri
1973-Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eyes-Suzanne-Doris Kunstmann
1973-War Goddess-Oreitheia-Sabine Sun
1974-The Eerie Midnight Horror Show-Luisa-Lucretia Love
1974-The Last Desperate Hours Laura-Monachesi-Silvia Monti
1974-Spasmo-Clorinda-Monica Monet
1974-White Fang to the Rescue-Katie-Gisela Hahn
1975-Blonde in Black Leather-Miele-Monica Vitti
1975-Deep Red-Gianna Brezzi-Daria Nicolodi
1975-Emanuelle's Revenge-Emanuelle-Rosemarie Lindt
1975-Eyeball-Gail Alvarado-Silvia Solar
1975-Syndicate Sadists-Flora-Femi Benussi
1976-Black Emanuelle 2-Susan-Dagmar Lassander
1976-Emanuelle in America-Diana Smith-Maria Piera Regoli
1976-Gestapo's Last Orgy-Alma-Maristella Greco
1976-My Father's Wife-Laura-Carroll Baker
1976-SS Camp 5-Women's Hell-Kapo Greta-Patrizia Melega
1976-SS Experiment Love Camp-Dr. Renke-Patrizia Melega
1977-Beast With a Gun-Giuliana Caroli-Marisa Mell
1977-The Cynic, the Rat, the Fist-Maria Balzano-Gabriella Giorgelli
1977-The Desert Tigers-Dr. Lessing-Lea Lander
1977-Suspiria-Olga-Barbara Magnolfi
1978-The Bloodstained Shadow-Signora Nardi-Juliette Mayniel
1978-The Killer Nun-Sister Gertrude-Anita Ekberg
1978-The War of the Robot-Lois-Malisa Longo
1979-Beyond the Darkness-Iris-Franca Stoppi
1979-Escape From Hell-Katie-Cintia Lodetti
1979-Hotel Paradise-Muriel-Ajita Wilson
1980-Anthropophagus-Julie-Tisa Farrow
1980-Erotic Nights of the Living Dead-Fiona-Dirce Funari
1980-Inferno-Carol-Alida Valli
1980-Macabre-Jane Baker-Bernice Stegers
1981-Absurd-Mrs. Bennett-Hanja Kochansky
1981-Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror-Evelyn-Mariangela Giordano
1981-The House by the Cemetery-Laura Gittleson-Dagmar Lassander
1981-Murder Obsession-Glenda-Anita Strindberg
1981-Piranha II: The Spawning-Jai-Carole Davis
1982-Ator, the Fighting Eagle-Indun-Laura Gemser
1982-The New York Ripper-Scellenda's landlady-Rita Silva
1982-Pieces-Grace-Hilda Fuchs
1982-Sweet Body of Bianca-Jill-Grazia De Giorgi
1982-The Sword of the Barbaria-Aki-Yvonne Fraschetti
1982-Violence in a Women's Prison-Hertha-Françoise Perrot
1983-The Final Executioner-Edra-Marina Costa
1983-Hell Penitentiary-Warden Landers-Rita Silva
1984-Monster Dog-Sandra-Victoria Vera
1985-Jungle Raiders-Maria Janez-Marina Costa
1985-Miami Golem-Joanna Fitzgerald-Laura Trotter
1985-Phenomena-Frau Brückner-Daria Nicolodi
1986-Bridge to Hell-Vanja-Francesca Ferrè
1986-The Kiss of the Cobra-Maria-Milly D'Abbraccio
1989-Alien From the Deep-Jane-Marina Giulia Cavalli
1989-The House of Witchcraft-Sharon Mason-Marina Giulia Cavalli
1991-Millions-Margherita-Florinda Bolkan
1991-Voices From Beyond-Hilda Mainardi-Frances Nacman
1995-The Strange Story of Olga O.-Sheila Altman-Florinda Bolkan


Baskingshark said...

Very interesting article - is Marisa dubbed in the English print of Diabolik and if so, by who? Or is that her own voice?

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hey Baskingshark, nice to hear from you again! Luckily "Danger: Diabolik!" is one of the few movies where the producer Dino Delaurentis has kept the sexy husky voice of Marisa Mell in the movie for us to enjoy! If you own the bootleg soundtrack CD of the movie you know what I mean! Unfortunately almost all her other movies were dubbed, even some of her international movies were dubbed by a voice actress in German for the German market. It was probabely not done for an actress to redo a part in her mother tongue if she filmed it in another language. All very confusing I think!

Baskingshark said...

Hi Mirko - glad to be back, I've been super-buy rescently, but always keep the marisa Mell blog on my Reader and it's always a treat when tehre's a new post. I'm glad DeLaurentiis & Bava kept Marisa's real voice. Interestingly, I understand that Margaret Lee, one of Marisa's fellow Eurocult actresses, spoke fluent Italian (impressive as she came from Wolverhampton in England) and would dub herself - coincidentally, in the Diabolik Spoof Arriva Dorelik (AKA How to Kill 4000 Duponts) she plays a character called Baby Eva, the equivalent to Eva Kant. She also sings in the film and recorded the same song in both Italian and English.

Dan Hinds said...


Perhaps you could clarify something for me. I understand now that with the 2005 Parmount DVD release there are two English soundtracks (versions). Do they both contain Marisa Mell's real voice? Is one dubbed and the other one recorded live on the set?


Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hey Dan! That is a tricky question but I try as far as my knowledge goes! Danger: Diabolik was an international production in the true sense of the word thanks to the savy business man that Dino Delaurentiis was! It has movie stars from four countries speaking three languages being English, Italian and French. So three language versions of the movie were made. To my knowledge there are no official prints with subtitles not counting the regional subtitles put on a print by local television stations. What happened was that the pre 2005print (VHS and Laser) used to have the original voices of Marisa Mell, JP Law and Thierry Thomas while all other actors like A. Celi were dubbed. (Compare his voice in the movie with his voice in Thunderball and you'll notice the difference!) The producer of the 2005 version of the movie wanted to have a pristine soundtrack and went searching untill he found a complete original English language soundtrack for the movie. To summerize: yes, both versions had the original Marisa Mell voice.

Johan Melle said...

Carolyn De Fonseca also dubbed Marisa Mell in *at least* one more film: the spy movie SECRET AGENT SUPER DRAGON (1966).

Theodore Rusoff said...

Hi it's Ted Rusoff, Carolynn's husband. I just stumbled across this article and was very gratified. Carolynn and I socialied a number of times with Marisa, usually in company with her buddy Anna Kords, an Austrian lady who worked as a dialgoue-coach for years here in Italy. It is true, Marisa got to be fluent in Italian and English but her accent was always thick in both. I directed the dubbing of one of her films, but it was so long ago I'm damned if I can remember which--I'm flashing on Paco Rabal being in it. She was a sweet lady and an absolutely breathtaking beauty. She and Anna taught me a bit of the Viennese dialect, which is hilarious. Great memories.

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hello Mr Rusoff, I am very honored that you liked my entry about your dearly beloved wife! Thank you for your kind words! It is highly appreciated! Regarding Marisa Mell and Paco Rabanne only the documentary series comes to my mind called "Paris Aktuell", from October 2nd 1968, season 3 episode 2. Take care! All the best Mirko!

Theodore Rusoff said...

Now it's killing me trying to remember that project. I do recall that we dubbed it at the Via Margutta studios, but that doesn't single it out, we did a lot of work there. I still remeber only those two snippets: Paco jokingly combing his hair with a fork and Maris angrily pulling her bathrobe apart thius showing her lovelies. I may never sleep again.
all the best

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Oh dear, now I am guilty of your restless nights??? I hope not!!! If you remember the movie please let me know! All the best, Mirko