How to Be Very, Very Popular

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How to Be Very, Very Popular
Directed by Nunnally Johnson
Produced by Nunnally Johnson
Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson
Based on Based upon a play by Howard Lindsay
from a novel by
Edward Hope, and a play
by Lyford Moore
and Harlan Thompson
Starring Betty Grable
Sheree North
Bob Cummings
Charles Coburn
Tommy Noonan
Music by Cyril J. Mockridge
conducted by
Lionel Newman
Cinematography Milton Krasner A. S. C.
Edited by Louis Loeffler
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 22, 1955 (1955-07-22)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,565,000[1]
Box office $3.7 million

How to Be Very, Very Popular is a 1955 comedy film written, produced and directed by Nunnally Johnson. The film starred Betty Grable in her final movie role and introduced Sheree North.


{Seen on-screen in opening scene: "San Francisco"} Stormy Tornado and Curly Flagg are two showgirls from a San Francisco cabaret who witness the murder of one of their fellow performers and can identify the killer. Not wanting to get mixed up in a murder rap, the girls flee the scene and hide out at Bristol College, disguising themselves as boys. However the need for attention makes the girls want to stand out in their stage costumes and then the trouble begins.[2][3]



How to Be Very, Very Popular was the third adaptation derived from the 1933 novel She Loves Me Not by Edward Hope. The novel was first made into the 1934 Paramount comedy She Loves Me Not which starred Miriam Hopkins as Curly Flagg and co-starred Bing Crosby. That was then remade as True to the Army for Paramount in 1942. However How to Be Very, Very Popular was based on the Broadway play of the same name by Howard Lindsay which was adapted from the original Edward Hope novel.[4]

The character of Curly Flagg was the lead in She Loves Me Not but was made the secondary character to Stormy Tornado in How to Be Very, Very Popular to accommodate Betty Grable.

This was the last film Betty Grable made in her career. She had been the number one box office attraction throughout the 1940s and early 50s with her films making enormous amounts of money for 20th Century Fox.

Marilyn Monroe, Fox's top moneymaker at the time, was approached by the studio to star opposite Grable in this film. She wasn't fond of the script and at the time was yearning for some dramatic and challenging roles to play and therefore declined the film. She also turned down The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing and was replaced by Joan Collins. Grable and Monroe had previously starred together in How to Marry a Millionaire which is credited for basically creating the changeover in who was the top star at Fox. Grable was the top star in the 1940s and Monroe would become the top star of the 50s. However, there was no rivalry between the two bombshells, in fact Grable is said to have famously told Monroe, "go and get yours honey! I've had mine". The two became friends after that.

Monroe would later star in Some Like It Hot, which had a similar plot—two male entertainers witness a murder, then flee disguised as women.

Song credit[edit]


At the time of its release, How to Be Very, Very Popular was greeted with mixed to positive press. Betty Grable's performance was generally praised, whereas newcomer Sheree North's performance drew less impressive notices. North appeared on the cover of LIFE just before the film's release. It enjoyed reasonable success, earning an estimated $1.65 million in rentals at the North American box office during its first year of release.[5]

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