In 1951, director Cecil B. DeMille contacted Columbia Pictures studio head Harry Cohn about borrowing Rita Hayworth to star in a production of "Salome." Cohn essentially stole DeMille's idea, and made his own film. He told screenwriter Jesse Lasky Jr., "You have one weekend to come up with a story for this movie, or you're fired!" Over a weekend, Lasky wrote out a 50-page treatment that became the basis for the film. However, since Hayworth was a popular box office star, the original New Testament ending of the film was re-written to make Salome more sympathetic, and less of a femme fatale.
This was the last film produced by Rita Hayworth's production company, the Beckworth Company. Hayworth later called her "Dance of the Seven Veils" in this film, "the most demanding [dance] of my entire career," and said it required "endless takes and retakes."