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Valley of the Dolls (1967) Poster

Trivia

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The character of Neely O'Hara was partially based on Judy Garland's own history (with pills, alcohol, and failed marriages). It was Garland's real-life pill addiction that contributed to her leaving this film.
This is the first of composer John Williams' 43 Oscar nominations (as of 2005). Williams is currently the most Oscar-nominated living person.
Judy Garland was originally cast in the role of Helen Lawson. She was fired because of her drinking and behavior and was replaced by Susan Hayward. Other actors considered as replacements were Tammy Grimes and Bette Davis.
Judy Garland complained about the press writing about her behavior on this film. She said: "The studio hadn't even built the set yet, and the tabloids had me walking off it".
The Helen Lawson character was based loosely on Ethel Merman and the Neely O'Hara character is a mixture of Betty Hutton, Judy Garland, and Frances Farmer. Ethel Merman actually ordered a musical number cut during previews of the show "Panama Hattie" before it opened on Broadway. The singer of that number was Betty Hutton, who was creating quite a sensation with her performance of the song. Just like in "Valley of the Dolls", the producer of the show took Hutton to Hollywood and made her a star to make up for her treatment in the show. (Betty Hutton starred in the film version of Annie Get Your Gun (1950), adapted from the Broadway show starring Ethel Merman.) The character of Jennifer North is based largely on Marilyn Monroe but also on Carole Landis, while Jacqueline Susann later admitted that Tony Polar was inspired by Dean Martin.
The novel begins during a heat wave in New York City at the end of WWII whereas the film opens in the middle of winter with lots of snow. This occurred because the producers were anxious to get the film into production and didn't want to wait for the warmer weather; a fact which infuriated the book's author Jacqueline Susann. The film version was also updated so that instead of taking place from 1945 through the 1950s, the storyline ran from the mid to late 1960s.
Film debut of Richard Dreyfuss.
Judy Garland's pre-recording of the song "I'll Plant My Own Tree" still survives today, as do her wardrobe tests.
Raquel Welch screen-tested for the role of Jennifer North. When she was then offered it she turned it down and was suspended by 20th Century-Fox as a result. Sharon Tate eventually took the part.
Some ads for the film featured photos of the female leads, along with taglines about each individual character and her pill color of preference ("This is so-and-so; she took the red pills.") Unfortunately, the ad department hadn't paid much attention to the movie because same approach was taken with Susan Hayward's character Helen Lawson - the only lead female character who didn't take pills and was in fact quite vocal in her dislike of recreational pill-popping.
Censorship restrictions at the time prevented some of the more colorful instances from the book making it into the film, such as Jennifer's experimentation with lesbianism, Ted Casablanca's homosexuality and Tony's predilection for anal sex.
The novel and its movie adaptation are loosely based on novelist Jacqueline Susann's experience as an actress from the late 1930s to the late 1950s.
Upon its release the picture was roundly scorned and condemned by critics. Moaned Bosley Crowther in the December 16, 1967, issue of The New York Times, "... all a fairly respectful admirer of movies can do is laugh at it and turn away." Nevertheless, audiences filled the theaters, and the film became 20th Century-Fox's top moneymaker of 1968.
This film is listed among The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Moves Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE.
Judy Garland was originally screen-tested and signed to play the main supporting role of Helen Lawson. The studio even provided her with a pool table in her dressing room at her request. Eventually she backed out of the film and was ultimately replaced by Susan Hayward. She kept her costume when she walked off the film, and proceeded to wear the sequined pantsuit while performing in concerts around the world. The character of Neely O'Hara in the film was partially based on her own history (with pills, alcohol, and failed marriages). Sadly, it was Garland's real-life pill addiction that contributed to her leaving this film.
This proved to be a big break for Sharon Tate even though she wasn't at all keen on the book or the resulting film.
Dionne Warwick was under contract to a different record label than 20th so the theme on the soundtrack album was sung by Dory Previn, who also wrote the lyrics. Margaret Whiting dubbed Susan Hayward but she was also under contract to a different label, so veteran voice double Eileen Wilson sings "I'll Plant My Own Tree" on the soundtrack album.
Lucille Ball was originally considered for the role of Helen Lawson, which went to Susan Hayward after Judy Garland left production.
Mark Robson had a very combative relationship with all his actresses, particularly singling out Sharon Tate for his harsh treatment. Patty Duke hated working with him and, years later, after his death, still called him "a mean son of a bitch".
Jacqueline Susann wanted Elvis Presley for the role of Tony Polar.
Judy Garland was originally cast as Helen Lawson but was fired when she showed up on set drunk. She was replaced by Susan Hayward at the last minute. Patty Duke later claimed that director Mark Robson deliberately kept Garland waiting in her dressing room all day, knowing that when he finally allowed her on the set, that she would be drunk by then.
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Patty Duke took the role of Neely O'Hara as an opportunity to transition into more adult roles in film, and because she saw the role as the most dynamic in the script, allowing her to act, sing and dance. When she learned that despite her preparations her vocals were dubbed for the film, she was furious.
One of the films included in "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (and how they got that way)" by Harry Medved and Randy Lowell.
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There are shots of the exterior of the Playhouse Theatre in New York. This venue was the home of the original Broadway production of "The Miracle Worker", in which Patty Duke, who plays Neely O'Hara, starred in "The Miracle Worker" from 1959-61.
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"Dolls" was a slang term at the time for dolophine, a popular downer.
Original screenwriter Harlan Ellison had his name removed from the credits because he vehemently disagreed with the tacked-on "happy" ending that the studio insisted upon inserting.
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After Judy Garland was fired, Ginger Rogers was offered the role of Helen Lawson. She turned it down, because she hated the script.
Three of the actresses concerned with this movie would turn down roles in The Graduate (1967) later the same year. Candice Bergen (the first choice for Anne Welles) turned down the role of Elaine Robinson, as did Patty Duke (who played Neely O'Hara), and Susan Hayward (Helen Lawson) was the original choice for Mrs Robinson. However, both films featured small roles by a young Richard Dreyfuss.
Despite its strong box office performance, the general consensus was that audiences had difficulty accepting the clean-cut Patty Duke in the role of a pill-popping prima donna. The irony was that Duke in real life had become addicted to drugs because her guardians fed them to her to help her with her acting.
Mary Tyler Moore was considered for Jennifer North.
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Re-released in 1969 after the murder of Sharon Tate.
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"Come Live With Me", written by André Previn, was inspired by the Christopher Marlowe poem of the same name.
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According to her autobiography, Helen Mirren auditioned for the role of Neely O'Hara.
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Joan Crawford was considered for the role of Helen Lawson.
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The book's author, Jacqueline Susann has a cameo as one of the reporters.
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Stephen M. Moser of the Austin Chronicle wrote about this film: "The definitive camp classic ... "Valley of the Dolls" is a great movie in the very same way that Showgirls (1995) is a great movie. Rent it and howl!"
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Frequent references to Broadway producer David Merrick and his stage production of Hello Dolly (which characters attend) was no doubt tied to the fact that the Fox studio had purchased rights to make a film version of that musical.
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Ursula Andress turned down the role of Jennifer.
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The novel the film is based on was the top selling novel of 1966. It has sold over ten million copies.
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An original, unused theme song was written by novelist Jacqueline Susann and Bob Gaudio of The Four Seasons.
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In the novel, Anne Welles is described as a blonde with blue eyes. In the film, she is brunette with brown eyes.
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For the three lead roles the following actors were considered: Petula Clark, Raquel Welch, Ann-Margret, Candice Bergen, and Jill Ireland. In the end Sharon Tate, Patty Duke and Barbara Parkins played the roles.
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The outdoor scenes of the railroad train from Lawrenceville are actually of the New York Central Harlem Division in Westchester County, New York which is now part of the Metro-North Railroad.
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Barbara Parkins hated her costumes.
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Sharon Tate is the late wife of Roman Polanski, who directed Rosemary's Baby (1968). Patty Duke, who was considered for the role of Rosemary Woodhouse in that film, would play the role in the television sequel Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby (1976).
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Judy Garland was gifted the sequined pantsuit she was to wear in the movie after she was fired from the film, along with her salary. Since Garland was more petite than Susan Hayward, who replaced her, the other costumes were re-worked to fit Hayward. Travilla said of Hayward "she made me take everything out - the lining, the pads, everything. That way, she thought she'd look thinner. I argued that the gowns would fall out of shape. In the end, I had no choice but take it all out; only the beads stayed." Garland liked her sequined pantsuit so much that she commissioned costume designer Travilla to make her additional copies-one in white and one in red, at a cost of $1,500 apiece. The Hayward pantsuit later showed up worn by Kay Medford in the "Murder at Sea" episode of "Starsky and Hutch."
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As explained in the novel, Neely O'Hara is not the character's birth name but a stage name. Her birth name is Agnes Ethel O'Neil, a name that she disliked. Her stage name comes from a corruption of her last name to form Neely, while O'Hara comes from the film Gone With the Wind (1939), of which she was a big fan of.
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Barbara Parkins originally tested for the role of Neely O'Hara before she was cast as Anne Welles.
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Jane Fonda turned down the role of Neely O'Hara.
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Robert Forster screen-tested for the role of Tony Polar.
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Marlo Thomas was also considered for the role of Anne Welles.
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Dionne Warwick's Scepter rerecording of the movie theme would peak at number two on "Billboard"'s Hot 100 chart in February 1968. Dionne's 45 held the second slot for a month. Without Miss Warwick's presence, the soundtrack album, released by 20th Century Fox Records, entered the "Billboard" pop albums list in January 1968, and the LP then climbed to eighth place.
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Her last album release for United Artists Records, "Patty Duke Sings Songs From Valley of the Dolls and Other Selections" failed to rack up robust sales, and the LP would go out of print after just one year. Gene Kelly, writing the liner notes, extolled, "Of course, Patty is an exciting singer, but precisely because her voice is excited and emotional and full of action."
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Julie Christie turned down the role of Anne as well as of Jennifer.
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David Weisbart, who was producing the film, died July 21, 1967 of heart failure while playing golf at the Brentwood Country Club with the film's director, Mark Robson.
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Neely's Grammy dress was the most expensive costume constructed for the film. Inlaid with real gold, the fabric cost $150 per yard.
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The Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! is frequently featured in the film, first when Anne Welles arrives in New York and second when the three leading women and their significant others attend a showing. 20th Century Fox would later gain the film adaptation rights for a feature length film based on the musical and be released two years later in 1969, and would be one of their most infamous financial failures
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The three-minute movie trailer accompanying the DVD release features an alternate take on one part of the infamous ladies' restroom scene. Susan Hayward's lines (and her delivery) to Patty Duke are a bit different than in the completed film.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

At the premiere for the film on an Italian cruise ship, after seeing the film with the cast, crew, and passengers, author Jacqueline Susann admitted to hating the film and called it "a piece of shit" especially for altering the ending of the novel. However, out of respect, she kept her opinions to herself to allow the film to succeed and to not spread bad word of mouth.
In the scene in the bathroom when Neely O'Hara fights with Helen Lawson and rips off the latter's wig only to reveal a head of white hair that the actress had been hiding, Susan Hayward insisted on dyeing her own hair white for the scene as opposed to wearing a white wig as the studio had requested. Hayward, in a testament to her professionalism and commitment to the character, insisted on dyeing her own hair as she felt it would not only look realistic, but add more to the already tense scene.
In the film, Jennifer - played by Sharon Tate - discovers she has malignant breast cancer. In reality, this mirrors what happened to author Jacqueline Susann who had a mastectomy in 1962. Cancer would ultimately kill Susann in 1974.
The scene where Tony's legs start to fail and Jennifer (Tate) panics was shot in the music center in downtown Los Angeles.
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After Jennifer North discovers Tony's terminal illness, she goes to have an abortion despite always wanting to have been a mother. The character is partially based on Marilyn Monroe, who was rumored to have had at least 12 abortions in her lifetime. These claims, however, could not be verified with any records, probably because at the time abortion was illegal in most states and she most likely underwent the procedures illegally so, for obvious reasons, they were probably kept secret.
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