- The first name of the Joe Gillis character was Dan in an early draft of the screenplay.
- The role of Norma Desmond was initially offered to Mae West (who rejected the part), Mary Pickford (who demanded too much project control), and Pola Negri (who, like Mae West, turned it down) before being accepted by Gloria Swanson.
- Montgomery Clift, signed to play the part of Joe Gillis, broke his contract just two weeks prior to the start of shooting. Billy Wilder quickly offered the role to Fred MacMurray; he said "no."
- The "Desmond mansion" had been built by a William Jenkins in 1924 at a cost of $250,000. Its second owner was J. Paul Getty who purchased it for his second wife. Mrs. Getty divorced her millionaire husband and received custody of the house; it was she who rented it to Paramount for the filming.
- Originally opened and closed the story at the Los Angeles County Morgue. In a scene described by director Billy Wilder as one of the best he'd ever shot, the body of Joe Gillis is rolled into the Morgue to join three dozen other corpses, some of whom - in voice-over - tell Gillis how they died. Eventually Gillis tells his story, which takes us to a flashback of his affair with Norma Desmond. The movie was previewed with this opening, in Illinois and Long Island. Because both audiences inappropriately found the morgue scene hilarious, the film's release was delayed six months so that a new beginning could be shot in which police find Gillis' corpse floating in Norma's pool while Gillis' voice narrates the events leading to his death. Distortion caused by water meant that this scene had to be filmed via a mirror placed on the bottom of the pool.
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