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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Poster

Trivia

In this film, Elizabeth Taylor does an exaggerated impression of Bette Davis saying a line from Beyond the Forest (1949): "What a dump!" In an interview with Barbara Walters, Bette Davis said that in the film, she really did not deliver the line in such an exaggerated manner. She said it in a more subtle, low-key manner, but it has passed into legend that she said it the way Elizabeth Taylor's delivered it in this film. During the Barbara Walters interview, the clip of Bette Davis delivering the line from Beyond the Forest (1949) was shown to prove that Davis was correct. However, since people expected Bette Davis to deliver the line the way Elizabeth Taylor had, she always opened her in-person, one woman show by saying the line in a campy, exaggerated manner: "WHAT ... A... DUMP!!!". It always brought down the house. "I imitated the imitators", Davis said.
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Every credited member of the cast received an Academy Award nomination.
The first movie to be given the MPAA tag: "No one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent."
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) became the first motion picture in Academy Awards and cinema history to be nominated for every Academy Award category in which it was eligible, including Best Adapted Screenplay (Lehman), Director (Nichols), all the acting categories (Burton, Taylor, Segal, and Dennis), and Picture of the Year (Lehman), since Cimarron (1931).
Edward Albee said he came up with the title when he saw the phrase written on a men's room wall in a New York tavern.
According a 2005 interview with Edward Albee, the original writer of the play which the film is based, producer Ernest Lehman hired himself to write the screenplay for $250,000. Also, Albee says that when director Mike Nichols and stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor read the script, they hated it so much that, unknown to Lehman, they changed all of the dialog back to Albee's play save two lines: "Hey, let's go to the roadhouse!" and "Hey, let's come back from the roadhouse!" Albee said, "Two lines for $250,000, $125,000 a piece. That's pretty good."
As of 2012, this is the only film in which a two pairs of married characters were competing for Oscars.
Sandy Dennis, who was pregnant at the time of filming, suffered a miscarriage on the set.
The first film in which the BBFC allowed use of the word "bugger" in its dialogue.
Elizabeth Taylor gained nearly 30 pounds to play the role of a middle-aged wife just for this film.
In her A&E Biography special, Elizabeth Taylor remarked that her performance as Martha remains her personal best.
The fourth of eleven films that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred in together.
Although the title was obviously inspired by the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" (sung in the Walt Disney's Three Little Pigs (1933)), Warner Bros. was unable to negotiate with Disney for the use of tune, so when characters sing the title phrase it is illogically set to melody of the public domain folk song "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush."
A copy of Virginia Woolf's 'To the Lighthouse' can be seen on the bookshelf above the liquor bottles.
Richard Burton befriended Mike Nichols in New York while playing in "Camelot," and reportedly he and Elizabeth Taylor championed the hiring of the first time director after Fred Zinnemann withdrew from the project. Ironically Zinneman beat Nichols for the Oscar, Directors Guild of America, and Golden Globe for his work on A Man for All Seasons (1966), which is still controversial to this day that Nichols hadn't received an award for his work on the film.
Richard Burton was heavily criticized for playing his character with an English accent.
When the film was shown on network television for the first time, some local television affiliates bumped the broadcast from 9:00 P.M. to 11:30 P.M., because a film with such adult language had never been shown on network TV.
18th July 1966: Police seized this film, and arrested the manager of a local Nashville cinema, for contravening a municipal order that banned films, as this, for contents of an obscene nature.
The movie was one of a series of films in the 1960s, beginning with the The Pawnbroker (1964), to successfully challenge the Production Code Office. In addition to the compromise on language, WB studio head, Jack L. Warner, undercut the Code's usefulness by arranging to have the film released with the "For Adults Only" and required theaters to prohibit selling tickets to unaccompanied minors, which in effect unofficially created the Restricted rating years before the Motion Picture Association of America abandoned the Production Code for a classification system (G-M-R-X) in 1968.
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The MPAA insisted on the removal of the term "screw you" from the film where it was replaced with the term "God damn you" but allowed the terms "screw" and "hump the hostess" to remain in the film.
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The play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" takes place entirely in George's and Martha's living room.
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Costing $7.5 million, it was the most expensive black & white movie yet made in the U.S. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Edward Albee's combined salaries/fees were (not including percentages): $2,350,000 - $1,100,000 for Taylor, $750,000 for Burton and $500,000 for Albee.
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During shooting, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton used identical red bicycles, lettered in gold, to get around the huge Warner Bros. studio lot.
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Academy Award-winning cinematographer Harry Stradling Sr. was replaced by Haskell Wexler just after filming began for attempting to "beautify" Elizabeth Taylor.
Jack Lemmon was the only actor to be offered the role of George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) before Richard Burton was cast. He accepted the role but quickly changed his mind the next day without offering any explanation. Other sources claim that Lemmon's asking price was too high for Warner.
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According to director Mike Nichols, actress Marlene Dietrich visited the set and completely ignored Elizabeth Taylor, only speaking with Richard Burton and Nichols. Elizabeth later commented "It's a very strange thing to be ignored on your own movie set."
According to Edward Albee, the only thing he doesn't like about the film is the over-use of over-head shots. He did say, however, that he envisioned Bette Davis and James Mason as Martha and George rather than Taylor and Burton. If Davis had been cast, she would have ended up parodying a line from one of her old films ("What a dump!") in the opening scene.
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In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #67 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.
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In addition to Sleuth (1972) and Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975), only one of three films in which entire on-screen billed cast received acting Oscar nominations. (Although Sleuth's credits did contain a number of nonexistent phony cast members to mislead audiences into thinking it was more than a two-character thriller and Virginia Woolf did feature two unbilled bit players as roadhouse employees.)
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According to cinematographer Haskell Wexler, Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis had on-set competitions to see who could belch the loudest. Dennis would always win.
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Robert Redford turned down the role of Nick.
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Selected to the Library of Congress National Film Registry.
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Richard Burton celebrated his 40th birthday on the set of the film where spouse Elizabeth Taylor presented him with a white 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado.
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Willard Maas and Marie Menken and their relationship were the basis for the characters of George and Martha.
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On the back of the movie tie-in paperback of the play, it reads: "A Warner Bros. Technicolor film" - even though the film was shot in black & white.
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Episode 2.1 on American Dad! (2005), titled "Camp Refooge," has a plot thread which is a spoof of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
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Frank Flanagan, who appears uncredited as the motel/café innkeeper, was the film's gaffer. The woman who plays his wife is actually his real-life wife, Agnes Flanagan, who was Elizabeth Taylor's hairdresser on the film.
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Early candidates for the role of Martha included Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Rosalind Russell and Patricia Neal. Early candidates for the role of George included James Mason, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Arthur Hill, Jack Lemmon and Peter O'Toole.
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Mercedes McCambridge had portrayed "Martha" onstage and sought after the film role.
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) reunites the four following people from Joseph L. Mankiewicz' Cleopatra (1963): actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, costume designer Irene Sharaff, and composer Alex North. All of whom received Academy Award nominations for their work on Virginia Woolf.
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When the original play opened on Broadway at the Billy Rose Theater (October 1962), Martha was played by Uta Hagen, George by Arthur Hill, Nick by George Grizzard and Honey by Melinda Dillon. The play was directed by Alan Schneider.
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The play's title was inspired by the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" from the 1933 Disney cartoon "Three Little Pigs".
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Connie Stevens, who was under contract to Warner Bros. at the time of the film's casting, pleaded with studio head Jack L. Warner for the part of Honey.
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Warren Beatty and Pamela Tiffin were given consideration for the roles of Nick and Honey.
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A map of Martha's Vineyard can be seen above George and Martha's fireplace. Director Mike Nichols has summered on the Vineyard for many years.
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The record changer turntable shown on the corner shelf is a Glaser-Steers model.
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Director-choreographer Herbert Ross staged the dance sequence between Elizabeth Taylor and George Segal at the roadside café.
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The play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," opened in New York at the Billy Rose Theater on 13 October 1962 and closed on 16 May 1964 after 664 performance. There were 2 sets of cast members. Evening performances were performed by Uta Hagen (Martha), Arthur Hill (George), George Grizzard (Nick) and Melinda Dillon (Honey). Matinee performances were performed by Kate Reid, Shepperd Strudwick, Bill Berger and Avra Petrides
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

According to director Mike Nichols, producer/screenwriter Ernest Lehman had written a different ending for the film where George and Martha's son had hanged himself in the closet years before. Nichols refused to shoot it.

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