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The closing credits include the following written statement: "We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Armed Forces of the United States of America." As portrayed in the film, Glenn Miller (1904-1944) rose to fame first as a trombonist and then as a big band leader in the 1930s and 1940s. On 15 Dec. 1944, he disappeared while on a military flight from London to Paris. For more information on Miller's life and career, see the entry for Orchestra Wives in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50.
After Universal-International bought the rights to Miller's life story from his widow, Mrs. Helen Miller, an August 1952 Los Angeles Examiner article stated that Tyrone Power and Gregory Peck were being considered to star in the film. A July 1953 Hollywood Reporter "Rambling Reporter" column reported that Dinah Shore had been offered the role of "Helen Burger" but refused it. According to studio press information, Mrs. Miller personally approved the casting of James Stewart and lent him her husband's glasses and trombone to use in the film. Press materials identify the following Colorado locations used in the film: University of Colorado, Boulder; Denver Civic Center; Lowry Air Force Base and the Elitch Gardens Ballroom. Although Babe Russin is the only Glenn Miller Orchestra member to appear in the film, a May 1953 Daily Variety news item states that original band members Chummy MacGregor, Hal McIntyre, Willie Schwartz, Dick Fisher, Paul Tanner, Zeke Zarchy, Conrad Gozzo and Rolly Bundock contributed to the film's score. Hollywood Reporter news items add Britt Wood to the cast and, in her feature film debut, Jimmy Dorsey's daughter Julie, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Lisa Gaye and Cicily Carter made their feature film debuts in The Glenn Miller Story. The film also marked the final screen appearance of Frances Langford (1914-2005), who appeared as herself. Langford, a well-known singer and radio star of the 1930s and 1940s, became one of the most popular performers to entertain combat troops during World War II, most often accompanying Bob Hope on his USO tours.
The film received rave reviews, with the Daily Variety review faulting it only for the absence of singer-band leader Tex Beneke, "who gained band fame with Miller and led the outfit for several years after the maestro's death." The Glenn Miller Story received Academy Award nominations for Best Music (Scoring Musical Picture) and Best Writing (Story and Screenplay). Leslie I. Carey won the Oscar for Best Sound Recording.
The Daily Variety review noted that after the picture's release, RCA-Victor, which released Miller's recording during his lifetime, produced a tie-in album of Miller's greatest hits, even though Universal typically marketed promotional albums through Decca Records. According to an October 1954 Variety item, Mrs. Miller sued Universal over the soundtrack release, claiming that she sold only the film production rights to Miller's music. The disposition of this suit is not known. According to a December 1961 Los Angeles Mirror story Mrs. Miller, who received a percentage of the film's profits, sued the studio again in an attempt to obtain a full accounting of the profits, but her suit was rejected by the New York Supreme Court. An August 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Miller's friend, Edward Kirby, was to act as the advisor on the film. Kirby is not listed in the onscreen credits, and sued Universal for $250,000 in 1954 for breach of contract. A June 1954 Daily Variety article stated that Kirby claimed to have originated the idea for the picture and signed over rights for $3,000 after being told that he would be compensated later. In June 1956, Daily Variety reported that the suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Universal re-released The Glenn Miller Story in 1960 and again in 1985 for the Cannes Film Festival's "Homage to James Stewart." For the Cannes release, the picture was updated with a Dolby stereo soundtrack. According to modern sources, as part of the film's publicity campaign, a time capsule was buried underneath the Miami Beach, FL Carib Theatre, containing the screenplay, Mrs. Miller's pearls, and a nightclub menu. Although the theater was subsequently torn down, the capsule was discovered on December 26, 1996, when construction workers were building a new structure.