Nearly five years in the making, interviewees Fred Ebb, Uta Hagen, Harold Nicholas, Gwen Verdon, Kim Hunter, Ann Miller, Al Hirchfeld, and Hume Croyn all died during production. Julie Harris suffered a debilitating stroke, and Fay Wray died shortly after the film's completion.
Rick McKay approached Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Lena Horne, Sidney Poitier, June Allyson, Olivia de Havilland, Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones, Joel Grey, Miyoshi Umeki, Gloria DeHaven, Eartha Kitt, Eddie Bracken, Van Johnson, Patty Duke, Ossie Davis, Mickey Rooney, Cicely Tyson, Billy Dee Williams, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Glynis Johns, Luise Rainer, Marsha Hunt, Marc Platt, Matt Mattox, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward for interviews, but all declined. Despite pleading from McKay and longtime friend Maureen Stapleton, Marlon Brando also declined to appear on camera, but offered suggestions and encouragement on how the film should be made.
Most of the interviewees initially declined to appear in the film. Rick McKay obtained most of them by having those who had already appeared make personal appeals to their friends, which often helped the elusive subjects overcome their reluctance.
Elizabeth Ashley's interview was originally scheduled to take only a half hour at Rick McKay's New York apartment. She and McKay became so deeply embedded in conversation, it actually took four hours. Ashley chain-smoked almost the whole time.
After hearing Gretchen Wyler's tale of her breakout by replacing the star of "Silk Stockings" at a moment's notice when the usual understudy was nowhere to be found, Rick McKay tried to locate the absent understudy, actress Sherry O'Neal, for an interview. Unfortunately, O'Neal had died some time prior. At the premiere he mentioned this fact to Wyler, who exclaimed, "Thank goodness I didn't know that! Had I known, I would have never told the story!"
Ben Gazzara had no recollection of his performance in "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" ever being filmed. When Rick McKay discovered footage of Gazzara and Barbara Bel Geddes performing in the play, McKay showed it to Gazzara, who promptly burst into tears. He remarked: "We was good, weren't we?"
The "final cut" of the film changed as McKay previewed it on video city by city; for example, the version submitted to the Academy for Oscar consideration was not the ultimate edition. In one instance, when Ben Gazzara became available, his interview was added to the in-progress version in time for the DVD.