Author Truman Capote envisioned Marilyn Monroe in the part of Holly Golightly. Monroe was originally cast as Golightly, but her drama coach, Lee Strasberg, told her that playing a call-girl was not good for her image. The film went on to be a huge success, with Monroe's replacement Audrey Hepburn receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress.
At a post-production meeting following a screening of the film, a studio executive, in reference to "Moon River," said, "Well, I think the first thing we can do is get rid of that stupid song." Audrey Hepburn stood up at the table and said, "Over my dead body!" The song stayed in the picture.
Holly Golightly wears the same dresses all the way through the movie, simply changing the accessories to give each outfit a different look. Her black shift dress features through the movie at least four times.
Although not visible on camera, hundreds of onlookers watched Audrey Hepburn's window-shopping scene at the start of the film. This made her nervous and she kept making mistakes. It wasn't until a crew member nearly got electrocuted behind the camera that she pulled herself together and finished the scene.
The famous black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the opening scenes of this movie was sold for $807,000 on December 4, 2006 at Christie's Auction House in London, making it the second most expensive piece of movie memorabilia ever sold. The first is the Best Picture Oscar for Gone with the Wind (1939).
Although it's never explained why Holly is wearing a bed sheet at her cocktail party, an earlier scene (cut before release) established she'd been taking a bath and had to improvise a gown on the spur of moment. The cut scene was featured in Life magazine pictorial shortly before film was released.
Truman Capote was reportedly unhappy with the decision to cast Audrey Hepburn as he'd been in favor of Marilyn Monroe. Hepburn was very self-conscious of her performance while Capote was on set as she felt inadequate as the Holly he had envisioned.
The uncredited voice of the "terrifying man" tearing up Holly's apartment is actually George Peppard. Years later, in 1983, as Hannibal Smith of TV's "The A-Team", Peppard's character regularly disguised his voice - a talent he used to deceive the show's villains. Rather than dubbing his voice for those sequences, Peppard did the various voices himself.
John Frankenheimer was hired to shoot the film with Marilyn Monroe. When the producers suddenly moved to Switzerland and Audrey Hepburn replaced Monroe, she said she had never heard of Frankenheimer and insisted that he be paid off and another director be hired.
After seeing Buddy Ebsen in his country role in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) wanted him to play family patriarch Jed Clampett. At the time, Ebsen was thinking of retiring, but the producers sent him a copy of the script, and he changed his mind.
Audrey Hepburn supposedly exclaimed "over my dead body" when it was suggested that "Moon River" be removed from the film. However, there's an alternative recollection of this event. On the DVD of "Breakfast at Tiffany's Anniversary Edition," co-producer Richard Shepherd says in his commentary that after a premiere in San Francisco, Paramount's Head of Production desired to have "Moon River" removed from the film but "Marty [Jurow, co-producer] and I both said 'over our dead bodies.'"
The Patricia Neal character does not appear in Capote's novella. The subplot of George Peppard serving as Neal's "kept man" was apparently added to the movie to establish the heterosexual credentials of Peppard's character. This then allowed for the movie's boy-gets-girl climax, something also not found in the novella. It also gave Peppard a chance to appear bare-chested in a bedroom setting, the very best "beefcake" scene in his entire movie career.
Tony Curtis stated in his 2008 autobiography that he asked his friend, director Blake Edwards to cast him in the role of writer Paul Varjak but Mel Ferrer didn't want his wife, Audrey Hepburn to make a movie with him, so Edwards declined his services.
Director Blake Edwards was lunching with Mickey Rooney at a posh Hollywood restaurant when Rooney objected to how his salad was being tossed by the waiter and proceeded to show the 'proper' way to do it. Edwards thought Rooney's attention-getting routine so funny that he wrote it into the movie.
In the film's original trailer (included on the special edition DVD), the announcer mistakenly pronounces Truman Capote's last name as "Capot", without pronouncing the "e" at the end of his name. This mistake was repeated (on purpose) on the "Mary Tyler Moore" show - Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) is demanding better writers and he says they should get "that Truman Capot fellow". Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) tries to correct him by saying just "E". Ted then says "oh yeah, Truman E. Capot"
Holly's real name is Lullamae, which means "Famous Warrior born in the Month of May". The name she chooses for herself is Holiday, Holiday meaning "Born on a Holy Day". In real life, Audrey Hepburn's birthday happens to be May 4th.
In the Book the narrator describes how Holly would wash her hair and sit out on the fire escape thumbing her guitar while waiting for her hair to dry; this is reflected during her "Moonriver" scene, which is why she has a wrap around her hair.
Contrary to popular belief, the movie follows Truman Capote's original novel quite closely. The character of Mag Wildwood, the Amazon-like model who crashes Holly's party in the film, is a major character in the novel. Capote describes her as having a stutter. In the film, Mag does indeed stutter though this isn't explained. During the shoplifting sequence, Holly briefly dons a Huckleberry Hound mask; a direct reference to a line in her song, "Moon River." Although Audrey Hepburn's performance of "Moon River" is unsurpassed, it would not be officially released until after her death. Holly's "bad date" prior to her first visit to Paul's apartment is only heard behind a door. The man who provides this voice is uncredited, but he sounds a lot like Mel Blanc, who at the time was working with film co-star Alan Reed on The Flintstones (1960).
It was Blake Edwards who brought Henry Mancini into the project, after Mancini had scored a hit with the theme from "Peter Gunn", though the producers were initially keen on a Broadway composer to fit the New York City milieu of the film. Mancini brought in Johnny Mercer as his lyricist, and so "Moon River" was born. Early titles for the song included "I'm Holly" and "Blue River".
Several exterior scenes had to be reshot after the processing lab accidentally damaged one of the film reels. Cinematographer Franz Planer was no longer available for the reshoots however, and Blake Edwards bought in Philip H. Lathrop to take his place.