Rita Marlowe was named after actresses Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow; the surname Marlowe is also an homage to 16th century playwright Christopher Marlowe, who wrote the 1604 drama "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus", which loosely inspired the original play this film was based on.
The film is based on a 1955 play by George Axelrod, but the film story is totally different, having been rewritten by director Frank Tashlin. The play had no Rock Hunter and Rita Marlowe only had a minor role; it was a Faust story with Hollywood about George McCauley, a writer who sells his soul to a producer for success.
Studio head Buddy Adler purchased the rights to the play to get Mansfield out of her stage contract, even though he didn't believe that the play would make a good movie. Frank Tashlin had seen Mansfield's screen test for The Wayward Bus (1957) and wanted her for his film version of Garson Kanin's novel "Do Re Mi" (which would become the comedy The Girl Can't Help It (1956))