Author John Irving's mother was not married at the time he was conceived. He never met his father nor would his mother talk about him. He eventually told her that if she didn't tell him about the father he would invent the man and circumstances of his conception. Her reply was "Go ahead, dear." "The World According to Garp" was that result.
Glenn Close plays Robin Williams's mother, yet she is only four years older than him. Similarly, Close and actress Mary Beth Hurt played women from successive generations yet in real life they are only one year apart in age.
This film was made and released four years after the novel of the same name by John Irving was first published in 1978. The book was Irving's fourth novel, its original title being "Lunacy and Sorrow". The book was a 1979 finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and in the next year won the 1980 National Book Award for Paperback General Fiction. The picture was the first filmed adaptation of an Irving book and was also the first of two Irving adaptations that were released in the early 1980s, the second being The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). In the latter, as in the book, a dog named "Sorrow" dies in a plane crash.
Glenn Close landed the role of Jenny after director George Roy Hill and casting director Marion Dougherty had seen her in a Broadway production of "Barnum" opposite Jim Dale (1980). Close got Oscar nominated for this film for Best Supporting Actress, getting the nomination for her debut performance in a motion picture feature film. The nomination was the first of many bridesmaids for Close who thirty years later [August 2012], and after six nominations, is still yet to win an Academy Award for acting.
The house that the plane crashes into was built at one end of the only runway at Lincoln Park Airport, a very small airstrip in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, (about 35 miles NW of New York City). The wrecked house was not removed for several weeks. While no planes have hit houses in the vicinity, one did bounce off the roof of a passing car several years earlier.
The name of the feminist group of women who cut out their tongues as a show of protest and solidarity was the Ellen James Society, informally known as the "Ellen Jamesians". The Atlanta Rock Band "Ellen James Society" based their name on this fictional group.
The initials of T.S. in Garp's name stand for "Technical Sergeant" and are based on the name and rank of his father in the army, who was only known as Technical Sergeant Garp, a ball turret gunner (tailgunner). The initials also can form a literary reference to T.S. Eliot.
The title of Garp's mother Jenny Field's (Glenn Close) partially autobiographical book was "A Sexual Suspect", its dust-jacket title being "Sexual Suspect: An Autobiography". The titles of the books that T.S. Garp (Robin Williams) wrote in the film were "Procrastination" (his first); "Second Wind of the Cuckold" (his second); and "Ellen" (his third). The name of the novel that T.S. Garp wanted to write with the assistance of Walt and Duncan was "A Child's Christmas with a Whale" whilst the name of the short story that graduate student Michael Milton wrote in Helen's class was "Black Snow". In John Irving's source novel, the titles of T.S. Garp's novels were mostly different to the film's. They were "Procrastination"; "The Pension Grillparzer"; and "The World According to Bensenhaver".
The Beatles song that bookends the opening and closing of the film was "When I'm Sixty-Four". Sadly, in real life star 'Robin Williams (I)' qv would commit suicide just under a year shy of his Sixty-Fourth birthday.
Transsexual Roberta Muldoon (John Lithgow)'s original name before her re-assignment when she was a he, a male gridiron footballer, was Robert Muldoon. The team he played for was the Philadelphia Eagles, his player number was 90, his player position, a tight end.
This film was made and released four years after the novel of the same name by John Irving was first published in 1978. The book was Irving's fourth novel, its original title title being "Lunacy and Sorrow". The book was a 1979 finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and in the next year won the 1980 National Book Award for Paperback General Fiction. The picture was the first filmed adaptation of an Irving book and was also the first of two Irving adaptations that were released in the early 1980s, the second being The Hotel New Hampshire (1984).