Hello, Dolly!

Film Version (1969)

Trivia & History

Hello, Dolly! is often thought of as having a been a huge flop at the box office. In fact, it was one of the highest grossing films of the year it was released. Because its production cost was so high — usually said to have been $25 million — it managed to be one of the highest grossing films of the year and to still have lost a bundle for the 20th Century Fox. Because of the way film rentals work and because of the costs of advertising, it was usually estimated at that time period that a film needed to gross two-and-a-half times its production cost to break even. On its initial release, the film grossed $33 million. So while it was a disaster for the studio, it was actually popular with audiences. Just not nearly popular enough. 


Gene Kelly did not want to direct the film. He was at odds with Michael Kidd through much of the production. And the budget grew too big for Kelly to handle. All of this resulted in a very difficult shoot.


Fox couldn't release the film until they went to court with David Merrick.


Barbra Streisand's Harmonia Gardens gown weighed 40 pounds and cost $8,000.


The Harmonia Gardens set filled an entire sound stage at Fox Studios, occupying three levels. The sequence took an entire month to shoot. The set was later used in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) as the subway station. The large fountain was reused in The Towering Inferno (1974) in the top-floor restaurant.

The facade built as The Harmonia Gardens was still standing on the 20th Century Fox lot as of 2010.


Other actresses considered for Dolly:

Carol Channing was not considered because it was felt that she couldn't carry a film of this size.


Ann-Margret screen tested for Irene Molloy. Pat Finley and Sandy Duncan both tested for Minnie. Ron Rifkin tested for Ambrose Kemper. Jo Anne Worley and Peg Murray both tested for Ernestina.


Walter Matthau grew extremely impatient with Barbra Streisand during the filming. Eventually, he refused to be around her except when filming scenes together. He is quoted as saying that she "had no more talent than a butterfly's fart".



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