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Onscreen credits feature the following written quote by Lillian Roth: "My life was never my own-it was created before I was born. Lillian Roth." In the film, Susan Hayward's voice-over narration as Roth describes her descent into alcoholism. Roth (13 December 1910-12 May 1980) worked in show business from the age of six. Appearing in films, play and revues, she was billed as "Broadway's youngest star." Her career reached a peak in the late 1920s and early 1930s when she starred onstage while also appearing in a string of Hollywood films. By the late 1930s, however, her career was in decline, and she disappeared from the spotlight until 1953, when she told her tragic life story on the television series This Is Your Life.
The series, hosted by Ralph Edwards, began in the late 1940s on radio and moved to the NBC television network in 1952. On each show, Edwards would profile the life on an unsuspecting subject. In Roth's case, however, she was informed beforehand, one of the few biographees to know in advance that she would be profiled. The Roth show, which was first broadcast on February 4, 1953, was sanctioned by Alcoholics Anonymous. As noted in modern sources, it was one of the most popular shows in the long-run series, and the only one to be rerun three times after its original presentation. Roth and "Burt" were married after the show appeared. The following year she wrote her autobiography in collaboration with Mike Connolly and Gerald Frank, and it was that book that provided the basis for this film. The resultant publicity allowed her to make a modest comeback in nightclubs, stage and television. Her last film was the 1977 picture Communion.
August and September 1954 Daily Variety news items note that Paramount, the studio to which Roth was under contract during the early 1930s, tried to acquire the screen rights to Roth's novel, but was outbid by M-G-M. According to a March 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Charles Walters, who was initially slated to direct I'll Cry Tomorrow, left the project because he wanted June Allyson rather than Susan Hayward to play the lead. I'll Cry Tomorrow marked Hayward's first singing role. According to materials contained in the M-G-M music files at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the studio considered using Sande Harris, a popular singer, to dub Hayward's songs, but later decided to allow Hayward to sing her own songs. In the onscreen credits, song titles are preceded by the phrase "Miss Hayward sings." Although Hayward had appeared as singer Jane Froman in the 1952 Twentieth-Century Fox film A Song In My Heart , in that film, her voice was dubbed by the real Jane Froman.
William Dorfman was announced as the unit manager in a March 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. March and May 1955 Hollywood Reporter news items note that Lana Wood tested for the role of "Lillian as a child," and that the studio was considering Thelma Ritter for the role of "Katie Roth." Although a June 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item lists Stanley Adams in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Margo, who played "Selma" in the film, was married to Eddie Albert, who played "Burt McGuire;" I'll Cry Tomorrow is the only picture they made together.
The film did not have a broad national release until 1957, but was extensively road shown following the Los Angeles and New York openings in December 1955. As noted in a January 12, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M decided to concentrate "on a pre-release, city-by-city concentration rather than mass opening arrangements" because of the box office success of the film in its premiere engagements. The picture became the fourth highest-grossing film of 1956. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter on April 10, 1956, it took in close to $8,000,000 at the box office. I'll Cry Tomorrow was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Actress (Hayward); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (black and white) and Best Cinematography (black and white). Helen Rose won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design (black and white).