Listen to 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' Read By Dorothy Herself Thanks to a New AI App That Cloned Judy Garland's Voice

Judy Garland passed away 55 years ago — but put any document, e-book, or file into a new AI app, and her voice will be what you hear reading to you.

Text-to-speech AI startup ElevenLabs announced on Tuesday that its free Reader App uses AI cloning to replicate the unique voices of Garland, James Dean, Burt Reynolds and Sir Laurence Olivier.

The app, which came out last week on iOS (with preregistration open for Android), takes any PDF file, article or text and transforms it into a voiceover that sounds like one of the iconic voices — complete with emotion and contextual understanding.

“It’s exciting to see our mother’s voice available to the countless millions of people who love her,” Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and representative of the Garland Estate, said in the press release. Minnelli added, “Our family believes that this will bring new fans to Mama.”

ElevenLabs worked with the estates of the late stars to develop the technology.

The startup envisions users listening to Sherlock Homes in Olivier’s voice or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in Garland’s voice.

Judy Garland in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz directed by Victor Fleming. Credit: Getty Images

Voice-cloning isn’t a new application of AI, and some of its use cases can be problematic. For example, audio cloning has been used to attempt to scam people out of money and personal information.

Related: Scammers Are Using AI to Clone Your Loved One’s Voice

ElevenLabs users can easily create audio deepfakes, or realistic-sounding impersonations of someone’s voice. In January 2023, the startup acknowledged that its technology had been used “for malicious purposes” and decided to put voice-cloning behind a paywall.

ElevenLabs’ safety page, as of this writing, discloses that the company moderates all content through automated and human review, traces content back to anyone misusing it and reports illegal activity to law enforcement.

Outside of ElevenLabs, the ethicality of voice-cloning has recently come under scrutiny. Scarlett Johanssen took legal action against ChatGPT-maker OpenAI in May when the voice of its newest ChatGPT model was “so eerily similar” to hers that her “closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference.”

Related: Scarlett Johansson, OpenAI Controversy Just Starting: Lawyer

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