During filming of the famous rainbarrel sequence, Jean Harlow reportedly stood up - topless - and called out something along the lines of "one for the boys in the lab!" Director Victor Fleming quickly removed the film from the camera to prevent any footage from reaching the black market.
Jean Harlow's husband of two months, producer Paul Bern, committed suicide during the Labor Day break in the production. Although she was absent for 10 days following his death, scenes were shot around her and the movie was completed on schedule.
This film's television premiere took place in Los Angeles Monday 5 August 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by New York City 16 March 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), by San Francisco 12 July 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), and, finally, by Philadelphia 6 January 1961 on WFIL (Channel 6).
This film is based on the 1928 play of the same name by Wilson Collison. Mogambo (1953) is the second adapted version of the play with the setting changed from Indochina to Africa. Congo Maisie (1940) is frequently, and incorrectly, called a remake of Red Dust. Although there are similarities between the two films, Congo Maisie was based on another work by Collison, the 1934 novel "Congo Landing".
Seeking to avoid scandal, Louis B. Mayer worked to remove Jean Harlow from the film following the suicide of her husband, Paul Bern. The suicide occurred under suspicious circumstances, which set the rumor mill ablaze with speculation that Bern had been murdered. Mayer sought to spare the studio the scandal by replacing Harlow in this film. He was only convinced that she should remain in the picture when a poll of audiences suggested that they strongly supported the actress due to sympathy for her having been widowed.
Once an audience poll suggested that America's moviegoers held a great deal of sympathy for the recently-widowed Jean Harlow, whose husband Paul Bern committed suicide just three months into their marriage, Louis B. Mayer encouraged director Victor Fleming to complete the picture quickly so the studio could capitalize on the audience's goodwill. This was quite the reversal of attitudes, as Mayer had initially tried to replace Harlow for fear that her husband's suicide (which occurred under suspicious circumstances) would harm the film's box office returns.
This film was one of MGM's big earners in 1932 and was partially responsible for the studio being the only one to turn a profit during the depression-ravaged year. The year turned into one of the worst for Hollywood studios, with over a third of the extant studios closing their doors for good.