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Director Howard Hawks liked the core idea of Bringing Up Baby – an intelligent woman bulldozing a man – and wanted that to influence his next film, I Was a Male War Bride. Hagar Wilde, who wrote the short story and the screenplay for Baby, teamed with Charles Lederer to write the first draft which would become a smash hit comedy.
1. Another actress was considered for the lead.
Hawks always envisioned Cary Grant as the male lead. For the female lead, however, he first thought of using Ava Gardner, who had stepped into the spotlight after her femme fatale performance in The Killers. However, Hawks worried Gardner wasn’t ready to play opposite Grant and decided Ann Sheridan could. He had previously tested her for a part in the Road to Glory.
2. A goose was harmed.
Cary Grant was keen on doing his own stunts, rather than relying on doubles. He especially wanted to do the gag where he’s lifted by a railroad crossing gate. Unfortunately, for Ann Sheridan that meant she had to actually drive a motorcycle with a sidecar. After some convincing from Hawks, she relented. However, while driving, she accidently ran over a goose.
3. Grant got severely ill.
Cary Grant had to be hospitalized while filming due to hepatitis and later, jaundice. He lost between twenty and forty pounds. While they hoped to continue shooting quickly, it became clear that Grant would need extensive time to recover. He later admitted that he almost died as a result.
4. Hawks demonstrated a gag for Grant.
When Cary Grant was giving him a bit of a hard time about dressing up as a woman for the key scene, Hawks decided to show him how to do it. He said, “I got into a WAC’s costume with my legs sticking out and put on a red wig… and went over to this general’s party… I pulled out a cigar and asked him for a light, and he had the strangest expression you’ve ever seen.” Grant couldn’t help but laugh and do just as the director wanted for the film.