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The film begins with the following written statement: "This is the True Story of an American Family." According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio purchased the rights to Cheaper By the Dozen, a "non-fictional novel," in February 1949 for $75,000. The fee was divided thus: $55,000 to the authors and $20,000 divided equally between Dr. Lillian Gilbreth and the other still living children. An additional sum of $25,000 was paid based on the book's sales. A Hollywood Reporter news item in January 1950 reported that Cheaper By the Dozen was the first Twentieth Century-Fox film to have sound recorded magnetically onto 35mm film.
In an interview published in Los Angeles Examiner on February 4, 1953, Dr. Lillian Gilbreth stated, "When my husband passed away 29 years ago, I was faced with the responsibility of raising my family and providing a living for them. It wasn't an easy task. Luckily, my health was good and my children cooperative. I met the challenge because I had a burning desire to succeed, first as a mother, and secondly as a business woman." Gilbreth was a psychologist by profession and lived into her 90's.
Co-authors Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (1908-2006) and Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. (1911-2001), portrayed respectively in the film by Barbara Bates and Norman Ollestad, were younger siblings of Ann Gilbreth Barney, the oldest of the twelve Gilbreth children, portrayed in the film by Jeanne Crain. Ann died in 1987 at age 81. On May 30 1993 the Montclair, New Jersey Sunday Star-Ledger published an article about a reunion of six of the eight surviving family members and revealed that the book's initial publication in 1948 by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company occasioned a phenomenal thirty-nine printings, and that a 1963 edition, which included an updated chapter on the children's lives as adults, was also printed several times. Some reviews list the character played by Betty Lynn as "Libby"; this was changed just prior to production to "Deborah". A radio version, starring Clifton Webb, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on May 7, 1951. In 1952, Twentieth Century-Fox released Belles on Their Toes, a sequel starring Loy, Crain and Debra Paget and directed by Henry Levin. In 2003, 20th Century Fox released a remake of Cheaper by the Dozen, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. As of spring 2005, a sequel to that film, entitled Cheaper by the Dozen 2, was in pre-production.