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This picture marked Marilyn Monroe's return to the screen after a one-year absence. Monroe was dissatisfied with the roles that Twentieth-Century Fox assigned to her, and left Hollywood after completing The Seven Year Itch (see below). Suspended by the studio, she moved to New York where she enrolled in the Actors Studio, under the tutelage of famed acting teachers Lee and Paula Strasberg, according to a September 1956 article in Cue. After announcing the formation of Marilyn Monroe Productions, Monroe finally came to terms with Fox when the studio offered her a lucrative contract that granted her approval over directors, according to a May 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item. Bus Stop was the first picture of Monroe's new seven-year contract.
Many of the reviews commented that Monroe's New York experience had greatly improved her acting ability. The Hollywood Reporter review noted that her performance had "been augmented by a sensitivity, poignancy and apparent understanding that Miss Monroe did not display before." An October 1955 Variety news item noted that producer Buddy Adler initially wanted Montgomery Clift to play the role of "Bo." Don Murray made his screen debut in the picture and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Bo. The picture also marked the screen debut of Hope Lange (1931-2003), who married Murray during the film's production.
Although a Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Steffi Sidney was cast as a rodeo fan, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Other Hollywood Reporter news items noted that the rodeo sequence was filmed on location in Phoenix, AZ during the JAYCEE World Championship rodeo, and that the exteriors for the diner scenes were shot in Sun Valley, ID. Although a July 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that dramatist William Inge sued to restrain exhibition of the film until after December 1, 1956, when all the first class stage productions of his play would be closed, that suit failed and the film opened in August 1956. From 1961 to 1962, ABC television broadcast a television series entitled Bus Stop, loosely based on Inge's play, starring Marilyn Maxwell, Rhodes Reason and Richard Anderson.