24 Wonderfully Wild Facts About Old Hollywood Films

Updated on March 4, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

The movie stars of Old Hollywood were style icons, mysterious and brooding, femme fatales, and so much more. They captured the hearts of movie-goers and never let go. During the Golden Age in film history, it was all about the glitz and glamour. Let's take a look at some wonderfully wild facts about our favorite classic films.

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1. Cleopatra (1963) was one of the most expensive films ever made. Originally it had a budget of $5 million, but after more than two years the film still wasn't finished. The movie almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox, as more money kept being put in it. After it was finally finished, the cost equated to over $370 million by today's standards.

2. Humphrey Bogart was two inches shorter than Ingrid Bergman, so he reportedly had to stand on boxes and sit on cushions in order to appear taller in Casablanca (1942).

3. In It's a Wonderful Life (1946), the holiday film was actually shot in the summer of 1946 and sometimes it got so hot that production had to be shut down for a few days.

4. Sean Connery was actually wearing a toupee throughout his entire run as James Bond, starting in the 1962 film Dr. No.

5. The iconic line "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone with the Wind actually caused producer David O. Selznick to be fined $5,000 for the excessive language.

6. Lon Chaney wasn't just an actor; he also did all of his own wild make-up for his roles in film such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra. | Source
Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. | Source
Sean Connery as James Bond.
Sean Connery as James Bond. | Source

7. Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds' dancing constantly during the production of Singin' in the Rain that she ended up crying and hiding under a piano. Fred Astaire volunteered to help her with her dancing when he heard about the incident. Kelly later admitted he was surprised the actress would even speak to him after filming and admitted he had been unkind.

8. The actors who played the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were only paid $50 a week, while Toto the dog was paid $125.

9. Lana Turner, Katherine Hepburn, Loretta Young, Helen Hayes and even Lucille Ball all tested for Gone with the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara.

10. When Clark Gable filmed without an undershirt in It Happened One Night (1934), wives all over the country stopped buying their spouses the undergarment. This caused a depression in undershirts in the 1930s.

11. Truman Capote, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany's, had wanted Marilyn Monroe to portray Holly Golightly. When Monroe turned down the role to star in The Misfits, Audrey Hepburn was cast. Capote had reportedly remarked: "Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey."

12. The fourth atomic bomb ever to be detonated was decorated with a photograph of Rita Hayworth, who had just released the 1946 film Gilda. Above the image was the name "Gilda" stenciled in black letters, and while it was supposed to represent her bombshell status, Hayworth was furious and offended by the gesture.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain.Marilyn Monroe & Audrey Hepburn.
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain.
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain. | Source
Marilyn Monroe & Audrey Hepburn.
Marilyn Monroe & Audrey Hepburn. | Source
Rita Hayworth in Gilda.
Rita Hayworth in Gilda. | Source

13. Fay Wray thought she'd be starring opposite Cary Grant in King Kong. In an attempt to entice the actress, director Merian C. Cooper promised, "You're going to have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood." That leading man turned out to be an ape.

14. On its original release, Kansas banned Some Like It Hot from being shown in the state, explaining that cross-dressing was, "too disturbing for Kansas."

15. Prior to the mega-success of The Philadelphia Story, Katharine Hepburn had been one of many actors considered "box office poison" due to several flops. The film served as her big-screen comeback and propelled her back to the A-list.

16. Rock Hudson had affairs with both of his Giant co-stars: Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. There was a rumor that Taylor and Hudson had a bet to see who could sleep with Dean first; apparently Rock won.

17. Elvis Presley was approached to play Tony in West Side Story, but his manager turned down the part. Other actors who were considered included Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds and Warren Beatty. Richard Beymer was ultimately cast.

18. Before A Streetcar Named Desire first came out in 1951, Marlon Brando was virtually unknown at the time of the play's casting. He quickly rose to prominence as a major Hollywood movie star upon its release.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fay Wray in King Kong.Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson & James Dean in Giant.
Fay Wray in King Kong.
Fay Wray in King Kong. | Source
Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson & James Dean in Giant.
Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson & James Dean in Giant. | Source
Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. | Source

19. Jimmy Stewart's wife Gloria didn't want him to appear in Rear Window with Grace Kelly, because she worried the actress would seduce him. Before she became Princess Grace of Monaco, Kelly had a reputation (which may or may not be true) of having affairs with her costars. Gloria developed paranoia, but nothing ever happened between the actors.

20. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell developed a very good friendship during the production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Russell nicknamed Monroe "Blondie" and when she was too nervous and upset to come out of her trailer, Russell was the only one who could get her to come to set.

21. In Alfred Hitchock's The Birds, live birds were tied to Tippi Hedren and also thrown at her while filming the iconic attic scene.

22. In The Wizard of Oz, the "snowstorm" that took place wasn't made of snow or cornflakes, it was asbestos. It was a fairly common practice on movie sets during this time.

23. In Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn's scream of surprise when Gregory's Peck pretends to get his hand bitten off was real. The actor hid his hand in his jacket sleeve and pulled out a "stump", causing Hepburn to screech.

24. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart fell in love on the set of To Have and Have Not (1944), though Bogart was married at the time. The two would eventually marry a year later, and remained so until his death in 1957.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell. The "snowstorm" in The Wizard of Oz.
Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell.
Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell. | Source
The "snowstorm" in The Wizard of Oz.
The "snowstorm" in The Wizard of Oz. | Source
Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.
Audrey Hepburn & Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Rachel M Johnson

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      • Rachel M Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel M Johnson 

        5 months ago

        Hi Umesh, I’m glad you thought so!

      • bhattuc profile image

        Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

        5 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

        Amusing and interesting.

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