The classic shot of Marilyn Monroe's dress blowing up around her legs as she stands over a subway grating was originally shot on Manhattan's Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street on September 15, 1954 at 1:00 a.m. with 5,000 onlookers, who whistled and cheered through take after take as she repeatedly missed her lines. Bill Kobrin, then-20th Century Fox's East Coast correspondent, told the Palm Springs Desert Sun in 2006 that it was Billy Wilder's idea to turn the shoot into a media circus, and even had bleachers set up. This occurred in the presence of an embarrassed and angry Joe DiMaggio, Monroe's husband at the time. The original footage never made it to the screen; the noise of the crowd had made it unusable. Wilder re-staged the scene on a Fox set replicating Lexington Avenue, and got a more satisfactory result. However, it took another 40 takes for Marilyn to achieve the famous scene.
Despite being one of the most iconic images in pop culture history, as well as one of the most recognizable photographs of Marilyn Monroe, the famous full-length image of Monroe standing with her dress being blown up never actually appears in the film. The shot used in the film is only of her legs, cut with reaction shots, and never shown full-length.
Marilyn Monroe's iconic white dress set a record when it was auctioned for $4.6 million in June 2011 (rising to $5.5 million after taxes and fees were included), quintupling the previous record for a movie costume ($923,000 for Audrey Hepburn's "little black dress" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)).
Amazingly, Marilyn Monroe's very narrow spike heels don't get stuck or break in the subway grating that she stands on it in the movie's most famous scene, although this was a universal problem, at the time, for the countless women wearing that very popular style heel in New York City in that era.
After seeing Walter Matthau's screen-test performance in the part of Richard Sherman, Billy Wilder believed he had found his lead man. However, 20th Century-Fox was unwilling to take the risk on a newcomer. That's when Wilder next turned his sights on the actor who had originated the role on Broadway, Tom Ewell.
In the early 1980s 20th Century-Fox (which has the film rights) wanted to remake this movie. Al Pacino was rumored to play Richard Sherman and Melanie Griffith was rumored to play the Girl. However, the project was turned down and, as of 2009, it remains in development hell.
An important promotional campaign was released for this film, including a 52-foot-high cutout of Marilyn Monroe (from the blowing dress scene) erected in front of Loews State Theater, in New York City's Times Square.
Marilyn Monroe's lifelong bouts with depression and self-destruction took their toll during filming; she frequently muffed scenes and forgot her lines, leading to sometimes as many as 40 takes of a scene before a satisfactory result was produced.
George Cukor was the original choice to direct the film. He turned down the project and eventually Billy Wilder, whose contract with Paramount ended in 1954 (his last film with that studio was Sabrina (1954)), took it.
The original Broadway production of "The Seven Year Itch" by George Axelrod opened at the Fulton Theater on November 20, 1952 and ran for 1141 performances. Tom Ewell reprises his role in the movie. The play's author collaborated on the screenplay for the movie version.
The New York movie theater showing Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) was really showing the Leslie Caron musical Lili (1953) at the time; the side of the theater visible to viewers had the 'Creature' title on the marquee (along with a standee of monster and maiden on top of it), but the front of the theater marque (not visible) was still listing 'Lili'. A photo of the theater will all "conflicting" marquees visible was tacked up in the Fox photo department for decades.
The screenplay was adapted from the original Broadway show "The Seven Year Itch", which was written by George Axelrod and starred Tom Ewell (who reprised his role as the imaginative Richard Sherman) and Vanessa Brown. When the project was moved from Paramount to 20th Century-Fox, Brown was replaced by top sex symbol Marilyn Monroe for the film adaptation. Due to the Hays Office Production Code censorship rules, the play's racy dialogue and sexual innuendos were significantly toned down for the film.
The air conditioners so central to the film's plot were Emerson units from the 1954 model year - a Custom model for the living room and Compact models elsewhere. The Emerson logo was removed from the living room unit for filming.