Hearing of the recent death of Sir Peter O’Toole reminded me of the most significant moment of my career when I was contracted to sing, not only the song The Impossible Dream for Peter O’Toole in the 1972 United Artiste’ film ‘Man of La Mancha’, but the whole musical sound track. Songs including ‘The Impossible Dream’, ‘I am I’, ‘Dulcinea’ and ‘I, Don Quixote’.
I was appearing as an understudy in the musical “Showboat” with Cleo Lane at the time that the film was being shot on location in Spain. Peter was due to sing everything in the film including The Impossible Dream; however both he and the management decided that, owing possibly to the fact that he regularly drank a bottle of whisky per day and smoked fifty Gauloise a day, he wasn’t quite able to meet the rigours of this demanding song.
So they cast about on the film set to find a vocal match and, finding nobody who fitted the bill, came to The Adelphi Theatre, where we were performing in Showboat. After auditioning all the guys in the show, including principals, they finally got to me and, after five takes of the song, gave me the contract to sing all the music. A very exciting time indeed as I had the conductor of the film together with the producer in our flat in Kilburn, coaching me in every nuance of O’Toole’s speaking and singing voice.
When it came to doing the actual recording they very cleverly edited sections that were Peter and parts that were me, so that, in the end, one wouldn’t be able to tell which was me and which was him.
A wonderfully exciting time!! In the video below I sing ‘The Impossible Dream‘ once again ( filmed in April 2013)
The original trailer for the film Man of La Mancha:
R.I.P. Sir Peter O’Toole and thank you.