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Written by Josephine Leslie under the pen name R. A. Dick, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir first appeared in the Ladies Home Journal in a condensed version for United States readers.
The charming tale of a widow meeting an obnoxious ghost that’s haunting her new residence was purchased by 20th Century Fox and given to Joseph L. Mankiewicz to direct. The director, who would later be known for his impressive body of work such as All About Eve, had yet to make his mark. Yet the script demonstrates the witty dialogue which would define his illustrious career.
1. The director wanted another lead.
Mankiewicz wanted to cast Claudette Colbert in the lead, but Tierney was cast instead. Interestingly, he also wanted Colbert for All About Eve; however, Colbert dropped out due to a back injury. The two never worked together.
2. Tierney worked through an injury.
Tierney broke her foot before production when she tripped while rushing up the stairs to see her friend’s baby for the first time. Even worse, her friend didn’t believe her! As a result, Mankiewicz shot her sitting down because it was obvious whenever she walked that she was injured. Still, Tierney felt pressured to take off her cast two weeks early so she could complete the film.
3. Wood was a charmer.
When interviewed for the part, Mankiewicz asked Natalie Wood if she had only read her part or the whole script. Shocked by the thought, she replied that she’d read the whole thing! Wood’s mother remained on set while her daughter worked, and one day, when they had been waiting due to delays, she asked the director when he would finally be ready. He joked that if her daughter could spell his last name, he’d be ready for her the next day. It took her two tries the next day but Wood got it right. Also, while working on this movie, Natalie was cast in another important role for the young actress, Miracle on 34th Street, after charming that director too.
4. Tierney’s husband did her costumes!
Fashion designer Oleg Cassini completed the costumes for his wife. At the time, their relationship was on the rocks, but the film helped them reconcile, at least for a time. When asked by a reporter fishing for dirt what he thought about his wife, Cassini replied, “Gene is the greatest girl in the world.” If that’s true, why a divorce, was the reporter’s follow-up. “Maybe I'm not worthy of the greatest girl in the world,” he said.