Glimpses Of The Golden Age: Behind-The-Scenes Look At 1950s Hollywood In Photographs

The transition from silent film to talkies ushered in Hollywood's Golden Age, bringing the world unforgettable classics and iconic stars. Take a walk down memory lane with these behind-the-scenes photos from 1950s Hollywood. Keep reading to learn more!

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Grace Kelly And Jimmy Stewart Letting Off Some Steam

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Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

During the filming of Rear Window, Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart found moments to have fun.

On the Paramount Studios lot, they enjoyed riding bikes and had fun playing with Rosemary Clooney's adorable Great Dane puppy, allowing them to unwind from their demanding filming schedule.

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A Glimpse At Debbie Reynolds And Eddie Fisher's Love Story

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In this 1954 snapshot, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds can be seen completely captivated by each other during a rehearsal for a show on CBS.

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Their intense connection led to their marriage in 1955. However, despite their initial romance, their union did not withstand the challenges of the following decade.

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Bogart And Jenkins Out For A Joy Ride

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In 1938, Humphrey Bogart and Allen Jenkins, taking advantage of a break from filming, decided to have some fun by riding scooters around the Warner Bros. Studio lot.

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Their spirited joy ride caught the attention of a vigilant guard, who promptly intervened and instructed them to reduce their speed.

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Jean Harlow In 1932

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By the late 1930s, Harlow was one of the biggest film stars in the world.

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Here she’s pictured on the set of the comedy Red-Headed Woman, for which she received a payment of $1,250 a week. It’s one of the few films where Harlow appeared without her signature platinum blonde hair.

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Johnny Weissmuller Doing His Co-Star's Makeup

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Actor Johnny Weissmuller sometimes served as the personal makeup artist for Neal, the chimpanzee in the 1950s television series Jungle Jim.

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Weissmuller starred in Jungle Jim as an explorer in Africa.

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Sir Laurence Olivier Critiquing Marilyn Monroe's Performance

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Director and actor Sir Laurence Olivier didn't show the icon much respect on the set of The Sleeping Prince. Here he is, critiquing Monroe’s performance.

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He was frustrated by the fact that her acting coach, Paula Strasberg was always on the film set and she was irritated by Olivier’s comments.

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Elvis Presley Didn't Forget The Little People

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Even with his enormous celebrity status, Elvis Presley was never too busy to take time to meet with fans who visited him on set. Here he is, posed with a fan. This is no ordinary fan, though! He's 14-year-old Tommy Rettig, aka Jeff Miller from Lassie! In 1956 when this photo was taken, Presley signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures.

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At the time, many older Americans were outraged at the effect Presley had on the youth. Not only were the adults disapproving of Presley's style of music, they were enraged by his hip-swinging stage presence. During an appearance on the Milton Berle Show, Presley began gyrating his body when he was told to leave his guitar backstage for a performance.

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James Dean And Natalie Wood Welcome Perry Lopez

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Here Natalie Wood has a laugh with actors James Dean and Perry Lopez on the set of Rebel Without a Cause. In 1955, Lopez was an up and coming actor who had just signed with Warner Bros. Studios, who also produced Rebel Without a Cause.

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James Dean and Natalie Wood starred in Rebel Without a Cause, directed by Nicholas Ray. Dean plays the forlorn teen Jim Stark, who has a hard time coping with his life at home. Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood were both nominated for Academy Awards for their supporting roles, while director Nicholas Ray was nominated for Best Writing.

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Cary Grant's Furry Friend Offered Moral Support

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Cary Grant had a furry friend to run lines with on the set of the 1953 film Dream Wife. Grant plays Clemson Reade, a businessman who leaves his hardworking fiancée for someone who fits his idea of the perfect wife and will take care of him and their future kids.

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During Hollywood's Golden Age, Grant acted in at least 75 films. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor only two times throughout his career — for 1941's Penny Serenade and 1944's None but the Lonely Heart.

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The Future Princess Of Monaco Needed A Rest

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Grace Kelly worked so many long hours, that sometimes she had to take a nap on set! In 1953, Kelly starred alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner in Mogambo, directed by John Ford. Kelly plays Linda Nordley, who arrives in Africa with her husband to film gorillas. She won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for the role and was also nominated for an Academy Award.

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Mogambo was a remake of Victor Fleming's 1932 film Red Dust, which also starred Gable. Both films were adapted from a 1928 play written by Wilson Collison. Keep reading to see Grace Kelly having too much fun on the studio lot!

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Jerry Lewis Put His Director In A Sticky Situation

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Comedic actor Jerry Lewis must have gotten into all kinds of antics on set, including taping director Norman Taurog to his chair. This photo was taken in 1956 when Taurog directed Lewis in Pardners. The western musical comedy also featured Dean Martin. Since 1946, Lewis and Martin were a popular comedy duo who made several films together.

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Norman Taurog also worked with Jerry Lewis for 1959's Don't Give Up the Ship and 1960's Visit to a Small Planet. While filming Pardners, Lewis allegedly filmed a 16 mm documentary behind the scenes.

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Life Was Easygoing For Hollywood Stars

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Actors Jane Russell and Robert Ryan enjoyed their time off from the studio by splashing around in the pools of their Hollywood homes. In 1955, Russell and Ryan starred alongside Clark Gable in The Tall Men, directed by Raoul Walsh. Produced by 20th Century Fox, The Tall Men was shot in Sombrerete, Mexico at Sierra de Órganos National Park.

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It can't be said that anything went on between Russell and Ryan. Ryan was married to wife Jessica Cadwalader throughout his career. Around the time this photo was taken, Russell was married to her high school sweetheart, Bob Waterfield.

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Ann Blyth Should Have Been More Famous

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Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Ann Blyth must have been having a bit of fun on a studio lot in this photo from 1955. Around that time, Blyth was cast in lead roles for the films The King's Thief and Kismet.

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Blyth was signed to Universal Pictures but was loaned to Warner Bros. to play Veda Pierce in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce. Blyth starred alongside Joan Crawford, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the titular role. Blyth was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Despite her success in the role, a broken back prevented her from taking on more movies right away.

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Even The Most Private Scenarios Weren't That Private

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The intimate scenes in Autumn Leaves might have been shocking to audiences back then, but here you'll see that filming the scene wasn't very private at all. Director Robert Aldrich hovered over Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson while filming their bed scenes. Crawford plays Milly Hanson in the 1956 drama about an older woman who falls in love with a younger man who is haunted by past demons.

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Crawford believed that Autumn Leaves was a fantastic movie that got overshadowed by her other work. She once said, "The cast was perfect, the script was good, and I think Bob [Aldrich] handled everything well."

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Ruby Dee Starred In Jackie Robinson's Movie

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Legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson proved he could also act in The Jackie Robinson Story. He starred as himself alongside Ruby Dee, who played his wife Rae. The biopic was directed by Alfred E. Green and produced by Eagle-Lion Films. The New York Times wrote that Robinson "displays a calm assurance and composure that might be envied by many a Hollywood star."

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Robinson had already broken boundaries when he became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. By the time the film was made in 1950, the second baseman was the highest paid Dodger up to that point.

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No Monkey Business Backstage

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Photo by Weegee (Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images
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There were a number of chimpanzees employed as animal actors throughout Hollywood's Golden Age. Most of the chimps played Cheeta, the animal sidekick in numerous Hollywood productions of Tarzan films and television shows.

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Zippy was one such chimp to play Cheeta in 1951. Zippy was owned by animal trainer Ralph Quinlan. His most memorable portrayal of Cheeta was in Gordon Scott's Tarzan's Hidden Jungle. At least 18 male and female chimpanzees were employed to play Cheeta over the years. In each production, more than one chimp took turns playing the role, depending on what talents the scene called for.

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Marlene Dietrich Accompanied Mike Todd To Oklahoma

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Actress Marlene Dietrich attended the Hollywood premiere of Oklahoma on the arm of producer Mike Todd in 1955. At this point, the esteemed German actress had already established a lengthy stage and film career. At the onset of the '50s, Dietrich primarily performed cabaret shows in major cities around the world.

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Mike Todd developed Todd-AO with the American Optical Company. Todd-AO is a widescreen, 70 mm film format that was first used commercially in the 1955 film adaptation of Oklahoma. The following year, Todd produced his most memorable film, Michael Todd's Around the World in 80 Days.

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Jack Carson Probably Felt Honored To Work With Ginger Rogers

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Actor Jack Carson was just horsing around with Ginger Rogers when he pretended to feed her some hay in her stall on set. In 1951, Carson and Rogers co-starred together in The Groom Wore Spurs. Rogers plays lawyer A.J. Furnival, who bails out "tough guy" Ben Castle, played by Carson. After marrying the "tough guy," Furnival quickly discovers that it was all just an act.

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By the '50s, Ginger Rogers was already established as one of the most popular actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. Carson was one of four alternating hosts on NBC's Four Star Revue.

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There's A Lot More People Behind The Camera Than You Think

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This image shows actress Patrice Wymore filming a scene as Johanna Carter in Rocky Mountain. The film starred Errol Flynn and was directed by William Keighley. Wymore was a replacement for the more popular Lauren Bacall, who turned down the part. Because Bacall was assigned to the role under her contract, Warner Bros. studios suspended her but she would end up terminating the contract.

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Westerns filmed in the 1950's were big productions, especially when they were filmed on location. In scenes where there are just two people, there are at least a dozen on the other side of the camera.

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Getting Made Up Was Half Of Their Day

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Actors George Sanders and Märta Torén spent a lot of time in the makeup chair behind the scenes of the film Assignment – Paris! in 1952. Taking place during the Cold War, the film noir follows a news reporter to Budapest, where he gets framed for espionage.

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Assignment – Paris! was filmed on location in Europe. These actors can attest to long days on set, where only a fraction of that time was actually spent acting. Time while not filming is spent setting up scenes and putting the actors through makeup and wardrobe like you see in this picture.

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Director George Stevens Was Into His Shots

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On the set of A Place in the Sun, director George Stevens determined the best angles for actors Montgomery Clift and Raymond Burr. Produced by Paramount Pictures, A Place in the Sun was based on Theodore Dreiser's 1925 novel, An American Tragedy.

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The 1951 drama stars Montgomery Clift as George Eastman, a working-class man who gets involved with two women from different sides of the track, played by Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor. A Place in the Sun earned six Academy Awards, including Best Director for George Stevens.

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Joan Crawford on the Set of Chained

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This photo taken on June 12, 1934 shows actress Joan Crawford on the set of director Clarence Brown's drama, Chained. This was the fifth of eight collaborations between Clark Cable and Brown, seen in the background here.

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This was the first film that Crawford worked with cinematographer George J. Folsey, who had discovered a lighting scheme that emphasized her best features. Folsey found that using soft light best highlighted Crawford’s eyes and cheekbones. Crawford was elated with the result, and requested Folsey’s lighting on every film after.

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Gene Tierney and Walter Lang on the Set of On The Riviera

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Leading actress Gene Tierney was admired for her incredible beauty and she had the talent to back it up. Her top films include Leave Her to Heaven, Heaven Can Wait, The Razor's Edge, and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

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Here Tierney is pictured on the set of the musical comedy film On The Riviera in 1951, receiving direction from Director Walter Lang. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Music and Best Art Direction.

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Actors Joke Around at a Hollywood Studio

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This photo was snapped on August 26, 1932, at a Hollywood studio at Mary Pickford's bungalow. Pickford, along with actors Al Jolson, Douglas Fairbanks, Eddie Cantor, and Ronald Coleman, and film producer Samuel Goldwyn joke around with an over-sized telephone.

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You can see two of the men wearing the two-tone black and white leather shoes that were popular during the era with everyone looking polished and happy. What a time to be alive in Hollywood!

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Orson Welles, Happy as a Clam on the Set of Citizen Kane

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Many men would be envious of the predicament Orson Welles is in, in this photo taken on the set of Citizen Kane. It was 1940 and Welles was surrounded by beautiful women while flipping through the script.

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He seems to have the full attention of all eleven women who are swooning over Welles, who was the producer, co-screenwriter, director, and star of the film. Welles' first feature film, Citizen Kane would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award in nine different categories and is considered by many to be the greatest film ever made.

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The Cast of the Thin Man, 1934

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The Thin Man was a detective novel by Dashiell Hammett that was turned into a six-part film series, beginning in 1934. Here, the cast socializes between takes on the set in New York City. Actress Maureen O'Sullivan, on the left, is the only one smiling as William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Ronald Colman all give the photographer a smirk or a stern look.

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The film was a success, proving to MGM executives that Powell wasn’t "too old and strait-laced" to play Nick Charles, and Loy wasn’t typecast in exotic femme fatale roles.

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On the Set of The Sunset Derby

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This photo was taken on the set of The Sunset Derby in 1927. Take a look at the car, motorcycle, and wardrobe of this fine cast. This was a silent drama film directed by Albert S. Rogell, who is pictured standing next to the camera.

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The film was released on June 5, 1927 with a running time of "six reels". The film starred Ralph Lewis and Mary Astor, who began acting as a teenager and was just 21-years-old while filming The Sunset Derby.

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June Allyson and Humphrey Bogart on the Set of Battle Circus

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Look at the beautiful customized chair created for actress June Allyson. Here she's pictured on the set of Battle Circus with her costar Humphrey Bogart in 1953. Directed by Richard Brooks, who also wrote the screenplay, the film is set in Korea during the Korean War.

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Bogart plays the part of a surgeon, pictured in his scrubs, while Allyson plays the newly-arrived nurse at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Originally, the film was to be named MASH 66 but MGM studio rejected the title because they didn’t think people would understand that it referred to a military hospital.

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Jane Russell on the Set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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Jane Russell was one of the most memorable sex symbols of the 1940s and 1950s. She was another actress who got her start in a Howard Hughes' film, as The Outlaw set her career into motion in 1943.

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This photo was taken on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which she played a starring role alongside Marilyn Monroe. Russell was noted for being a down-to-earth actress with a sharp wit. Combined with her timeless beauty, Russell was on the minds of many men.

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Veronica Lake Gets Tied Up for This Gun For Hire

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Veronica Lake was most well-known for her femme fatale roles during the 1940s. She was also known for her trademark peek-a-boo hairstyle. This caused problems in factories as women workers tried to replicate the style, which caused accidents with their hair draped over one eye. At the government's request, Lake changed her hairstyle.

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This photo shows Director Frank Tuttle talking to Lake as a crew member ties her up for the next scene of This Gun For Hire in 1942.

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French Dancer and Actress Leslie Caron Jokes Around

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French actress and dancer Leslie Caron appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. She was one of the few starlets who have danced with icons Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Rudolf Nureyev.

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Here she's pictured joking around behind the scenes in 1965, locking up a man who might have been a love interest of hers at the time, as her second divorce, from Peter Hall, was being finalized.

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Marlon Brando Chats With His Stand-in

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This photo captures actor Marlon Brando on the set of On The Waterfront in 1954. He's pictured with Carl Fiore, who acted as his stand-in. Stand-ins are important in the film-making process, as they act as a substitute for the actor as the crew makes sure the lighting and camera set-up is ready to go before calling out the stars.

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The film was set in Hoboken, New Jersey, and received twelve Academy Award nominations, winning eight. It was also deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress.

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Cary Grant and Sophia Loren film Houseboat

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This photo was taken in 1958, on the set of Houseboat, starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. Here, they shoot a scene at a Hollywood studio– ah, the magic of Hollywood. Director Melville Shavelson holds the boat steady while Loren looks uneasy as she finds a seat.

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Grant's wife, Betsy Drake, wrote the original script and was set to star alongside her husband. However, Grant began a love affair with Loren during The Pride and the Passion, and arranged to have her take his wife’s place in the film instead. Ouch.