She usually played a mysterious blond that was up to no good. Actress Lizabeth Scott, known for her husky voice and sleek, straight blond hair was often a woman with a secret in 1940s and 1950s film noirs.
Publicity departments of the golden era of Hollywood often saddled their actors with nicknames: from the It Girl (Clara Bow), the Oomph Girl (Ann Sheridan) to the Lavender Blonde (Kim Novak).
Scott was nicknamed “The Threat,” as she was threatening to “The Body (Marie MacDonald), “The Voice” (Frank Sinatra), and “The Look” (Lauren Bacall).
But though Scott could sing, she rarely (or never) was able to sing in any of her 21 films from 1945 to 1957.
Her first film was in 1945 and she made waves with her second film “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946). While she was compared to Lauren Bacall often and didn’t have MacDonald’s figure, she could sing.
But Scott rarely (or never) was able to sing in any of her films. Her singing was always dubbed, such as when she played a nightclub singer in “I Walk Alone” (1947), Trudy Stevens dubbed Scott. And even when she starred in the musical “Loving You” (1957) with Elvis Presley, Scott still wasn’t given the opportunity to sing.
“They decided I couldn’t sing so I haven’t sung except at parties,” Scott said in “Lizabeth Scott Turns to Singing Roles in Movies,” an article by Aline Mosby from a Feb. 14, 1957.
“I was a frustrated singer for years. After I made my first Paramount picture in 1946, I asked the men at the studio if I could sing in one of my movies. They said, ‘hush you’re an actress.’ So I lived with the frustration, envious of all the singers I used to see,” Scott said in “Lizabeth Scott Likes New Singing Career,” an article by Marie Torre from May 16, 1958.
Finally, in 1957 Lizabeth Scott’s voice was heard when she recorded her own jazz record simply titled “Lizabeth” with Henri René and his orchestra by RCA records. For two and a half years she took voice lessons and “worked like a Trojan,” she says in Mosby’s article.
“The days I spent recording that first album were the most exquisitely beautiful days of my life,” Scott said in Torre’s article.
“I guess this will surprise people. Here I’ve done all these dramatic roles, and suddenly I come out with those jazzy songs,” Scott said in Mosby’s article.
The songs are all lounge singer-esque ballads about love such as “Can’t Get Out of This Mood,” “Willow Weep for Me,” and “I’m In Love Again.”
“They’re all songs devoted to men,” Scott said in Torre’s article.
And it really is. Songs like “It’s So Nice To Have a Man Around the House,” “When a Woman Loves a Man,” “He is a Man,” “Legalize My Name” and simply “Men” really make this album one track minded.
This record came after a 1954 scandal when Confidential magazine suggested Scott was a lesbian—citing that she never married, wore men’s colognes, slept in men’s pajamas and didn’t wear feminine dresses, according to Scott’s 2015 New York Times obituary. The scandal damaged her career and Scott sued for libel.
Perhaps the song subject matter was to help mitigate her image.
Regardless, Lizabeth Scott sings very well on the record. While I listened to the record, I couldn’t help but think it was a shame that she never was able to sing in her films.
While Scott sings great on the album, this isn’t a record I could listen to repeatedly. Since most of the songs are slow ballads, they begin to run together and sound the same.
After recording the album, she said singing was just part of her career but she wasn’t giving up acting.
“Now I want to make more and more albums, take on singing appearance on TV and in nightclubs,” she said in Torre’s article.
However, this was Scott’s only record and she only made one more film—Pulp (1972) and appeared on television shows from 1958 to 1971.
While “Lizabeth” isn’t great for repeat listenings, it’s one of those fun collectible records from the golden era with actors you don’t expect to find singing (see also: Charles Boyer, Sal Mineo, George Sanders, or Eddie Albert).
You can listen to the full album here: