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In July 1968, according to news items, the Thomas Rogers novel The Pursuit of Happiness was purchased by Talent Associates president and producer David Susskind, for Columbia distribution with Sidney Carroll announced as the screenwriter. Filmfacts adds the following information on the production: Comedian David Steinberg was reportedly interested in adapting Rogers' novel. George L. Sherman was brought in to revise Carroll's script, angering Carroll, who requested to be credited under the pseudonym Jon Boothe. Actress Ruth Gordon was originally cast in the role of "Mrs. Popper," but a disagreement with director Robert Mulligan led to her withdrawal from the film. The film's production was then temporarily suspended until Ruth White was brought in as Gordon's replacement.
Although Filmfacts lists the film as produced by Paman Productions, all other sources and copyright informatin indicate the film was produced by T.A. Films and Norton Simon Productions. The failure of other "youth oriented" films caused The Pursuit of Happiness to be shelved for over a year when it was released "considerably altered." The extent of those changes is unknown. The Pursuit of Happiness was released two months prior the opening of Mulligan's highly successful Summer of '42 (see below), which also featured youthful central characters. The film was shot on location in New York and New Jersey.