Mary Pickford bought the screen rights to the original Broadway musical comedy for $150,000, intending to film it with the original cast, which included Mary Martin. The plan was abandoned when Martin became pregnant.
The original plans for filming this property in 1945 for United Artists included Mary Martin (from the original cast) with Frank Sinatra, Clifton Webb and Bert Lahr, with Sam Coslow producing for Mary Pickford. Pickford felt that only Webb had any box-office pull and was hesitant to commit $2 million of her own money to production. After much indecision she finally sold the rights to Lester Cowan at Universal.
In March 1945, after Mary Pickford bought the rights to the play, she chose Gregory La Cava to direct the planned movie, which never came about. In July 1947 La Cava sued Pickford for $1,653,750, claiming she had broken their oral agreement.
MGM loaned Ava Gardner to Universal Studios to make this movie. Universal sent her to sculptor Joseph Nicolosi to make a proper life-size statue of the goddess. Nicolosi's first statue was entirely nude, and the studio told the sculptor to go back and make a more modest goddess. Universal sent members of the press a small souvenir knockoff of the second statue as a promotional item. According to author Lee Server in his biography "Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing", Robert Walker was so infatuated with his co-star that, when he found rival Howard Duff in her dressing room, he slapped Ava. She left the studio and filming ended.
The original musical opened on October 7, 1943, at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. The show moved to the 46th Street Theatre on January 26, 1944 (two days after closing at the Imperial), and continued to run through February 10, 1945. The total number of performances was 567. The cast included Mary Martin (in a role originally meant for Marlene Dietrich), John Boles and Kenny Baker.