Shelley Winters hated her role as "Rose-Ann," primarily because, as a supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, she was very uncomfortable playing a racist. Winters was actually overwhelmed and speechless the night she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Scenes of Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman kissing were excised from the film when it was shown in theaters in the American South, where many states still had laws against what they called "race-mixing".
Patty Duke was offered the lead part of Selina D'Arcy. Her managers, John and Ethel Ross, did not want her to take the part because they felt that playing a blind person so close to the time she portrayed Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (1962) would stereotype her for future roles.
On March 7, 1965, a civil rights march, planned from Selma to Alabama's capital in Montgomery, turned violent as police with nightsticks and tear gas met the demonstrators as they tried to cross the Edmond Pettus Bridge. Contrary to reports at the time, Dr. Martin Luther King was not in the march; however, the attack was televised showing horrifying images of marchers being bloodied and severely injured. Seventeen demonstrators were hospitalized, leading to the naming the event "Bloody Sunday". This film was released eight months later.