powered by AFI
The film begins with an almost six-minute sequence showing Alfred Newman conducting the Twentieth Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra as it plays part of the well-known score he wrote for the 1931 United Artists release Street Scene (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). At the completion of the song, the opening credits of the film begin, and the orchestra briefly appears again at the end of the picture. As noted by contemporary sources, the sequence was included to demonstrate the versatility of CinemaScope and stereophonic sound. How to Marry a Millionaire was Twentieth Century-Fox's second CinemaScope release, although it had completed production before The Robe, which was released first (see below).
According to modern sources, George Cukor suggested to Lauren Bacall that she persuade Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck to purchase the rights to Zo Akins' play The Greeks Had a Word for It. Producer-writer Nunnally Johnson then added elements of the Dale Eunson-Katherine Albert play Loco to build up Betty Grable's role. Although studio publicity announced that production manager Gaston Glass's teenage son Paul would be making his screen debut in the film as a piano player, his appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items include George Dunn and Donald Kerr in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A January 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Larry Keating in the cast, but he was not in the released picture.
There are several "inside" jokes in the film, among them, the fashion show sequence, when Marilyn Monroe's character, "Pola," appears in a diamond-encrusted bathing suit and the mistress of the fashion house states that "diamonds are a girl's best friend," a reference to Monroe's hit film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Pola's complaint that "men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses" is a play on the famous Dorothy Parker quip "men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses." While "Loco" is in Maine with "Waldo," they listen to the radio and she insists that the musician playing is Harry James, who in real life was married to Grable. When "Schatze" attempts to persuade "J. D." that she prefers older men, she lists "that guy who was in The African Queen" as one of her crushes. The star of that film, Humphrey Bogart, was married to Bacall.
Some modern sources incorrectly state that Monroe receives top billing over Grable in the onscreen credits, although Monroe did receive first billing in the film's trailer and advertising. It was the first time since 1941 that Grable did not receive top billing in advertisements for one of her films, according to modern sources. How to Marry a Millionaire was Grable's last contract film for Twentieth Century-Fox, to which she had been under contract since 1936. According to a July 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, the "amicably agreed" split came after "a series of disputes" during which Grable was put on suspension for refusing various roles assigned to her. Grable did appear in the studio's 1955 production How to Be Very, Very Popular, but as a freelance artist.
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, background sequences for the film were shot in New York City and Sun Valley, ID. Charles LeMaire and Travilla received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (Color) for their work on How to Marry a Millionaire. The film, which garnered excellent reviews, was a smash hit and grossed approximately eight million dollars worldwide, according to modern sources. According to an April 1954 Variety news item, New York City resident Eveyln Paige filed a libel and invasion-of-privacy suit against Twentieth Century-Fox, because of similarities between the character of "Schatze Page" and herself. The outcome of the suit has not been determined.
Akins' play The Greeks Had a Word for It was also used as the basis for the 1932 United Artists release The Greeks Had a Word for Them, directed by Lowell Sherman and starring Joan Blondell, Ina Claire and Madge Evans. According to modern sources, Grable appeared in the 1932 production in a bit role as a showgirl. The 1953 film was the basis of a 1957-1958 syndicated television series entitled How To Marry a Millionaire, which starred Barbara Eden, Lori Nelson and Merry Anders (who appears in the film as a model). In 2000, Fox Television announced plans for a comedy series entitled How to Marry a Billionaire, in which three male roommates would try to find a rich wife. Although some modern sources state that films such as Working Girls, Three Blind Mice, Moon Over Miami and Three Little Girls in Blue are based on the same sources as How to Marry a Millionaire, they are not.