My Fair Lady is one of the most beloved musicals of all time and the inspiration behind one of the musical movie themed hotel rooms at Arthouse Hotel.
Filmed in 1964 with an all-star cast including Rex Harrison who played Higgins, a phonetics professor with a rather large ego and Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, a working-class girl from the bustling city of London.
The story goes that Higgin’s believes in his coaching abilities so much he can tutor the cockney twang out of Eliza and therefore make her a well-spoken upstanding member of society.
The two form an unlikely relationship and eventually fall in love, despite social differences and the interference of aristocratic suitor, Freddie, played by Jeremey Brett.
The movie served as inspiration for one of our musical movie themed hotel rooms and the My Fair Lady room at Arthouse Hotel is simply Loverly.
Check out some of the lesser-known facts behind the creation of My Fair Lady the movie, its origins and some of the famous cast members below.
Award Winning Performances
My Fair Lady was released to critical acclaim winning a grand total of 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.
Renowned for her gracious caring attitude, Audrey Hepburn displayed slightly diva-esque behaviour when she was informed her singing voice would be dubbed. She walked offset in a huff, only to return the following day and apologise to everyone who she had offended.
Age is Only a Number
Middle-aged adults playing high school children was a thing way before 90210 and Dawson’s Creek.
Eliza Doolittle was only supposed to be 19 in My Fair Lady but Audrey Hepburn was a fantastic looking 35 years old during filming.
Hollywood isn’t wasn’t the cutthroat industry that it’s made out to be today. Cary Grant was approached to play Rex Higgins but he turned the role down knowing he wasn’t right for the it.
Instead, he strongly recommended Rex Harrison for the part and said if he wasn’t cast he wouldn’t even go and see the movie.
Another Role Rejection
Dame Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle on stage, just 19 at the time and at the beginning of what would become a blossoming film career.
She refused the role in the movie as she was also up for the part of Mary Poppins and didn’t want the two to conflict.
Delaying Walt Disney
Hoping to boost the career of now Dame Julie Andrews, the wonderful man Walt Disney offered to delay filming Mary Poppins until summer 1964 so she could take on the role of Eliza Doolittle as well.
On Set Interference
The dashing neckties that Higgins wore throughout filming were where crew and costume had stashed Rex Harrington’s microphone.
Occasionally the device would pick up radio conversations from passing police cars reporting crimes or updating criminal pursuits.
A Hidden Talent
Despite being a member of the Eton College choir and being known for his excellent singing voice, directors chose to dub the vocal talents of actor Jeremy Brett who played the besotted Freddie Eynsford-Hill.
His songs were sung instead by a 43-year-old Bill Shirley.
A Very Different Type Of Fair Lady
If we could imagine another in the role of Eliza Doolittle first thoughts do go to Julie Andrews. However, by the time filming came around Andrews was immersed in work with Disney so, if Audrey Hepburn had not accepted the role a third actress was in line.
Super starlet Elizabeth Taylor is said to have coveted the job although its very hard to imagine Ms Taylor playing a common working class cockney don’t you agree?
Devastating News on Set
The 60s was a decade rife with iconic moments in history, one of which was the shocking assassination of JFK.
Announcing the tragedy to cast and crew fell to Audrey Hepburn after she’d filmed the most famous song number of the My Fair Lady movie “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”.
Setting The Perfect Scene
Thanks to the large budget given to the movie, set designers were extra creative with their work which eliminated the need to film outside.
Instead, every scene in My Fair Lady was shot on the sound stages of Hollywood studios.
When it came to naming the movie, directors struggled and at first settled on Lady Liza but because of protests from Rex Harrison, the title was changed.
The inspiration for the new title was the traditional children’s nursery rhyme “London Bridge is falling down, My Fair Lady.”
An Arresting Beauty
Audrey Hepburn is without a doubt one of the most naturally beautiful women to ever have graced our screens.
It comes as little surprise that when she entered the set in full costume for the ballroom scene, the room fell silent then cast and crew began to applaud, cheer and even shed tears at how stunning she looked.
Blowing The Budget
In the 60s, production companies were spending huge sums of money on making movies.
Only the year before My Fair Lady was made, Cleopatra at 20TH Century Fox had racked up a bill of $35 million, roughly translated to around £350 million today.
My Fair Lady came in at just $17 million, and despite being half the cost of Cleopatra, it was still the most expensive movie made by Warner Bros at the time.
Again thanks to the huge sums of money at their disposal directors hired the exceptionally skilled Cecil Beaton to design the 1500 elaborate costumes for the cast.
His work including the stunning beaded ballgown and monochrome lace Ascot dress for Eliza Doolittle’s character all of which earned him the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
Beaton’s work was so exquisite, and expensive, that the studio hired amusement park trams to transport the clothed cast to and from set to avoid damages and dirt.
Costs Vs Profits
Despite costing Warner Bros under half of what Cleopatra cost Fox, My Fair Lady has grossed $20 million more in profits overall.
In fact, My Fair Lady even made it into the top 100 highest ranking films of all time.
We all assume that Audrey Hepburn was the picture of health, but she had a nasty habit.
Hepburn smoked around three packs of cigarettes a day, much to the displeasure of Rex Harrison who had recently given up before filming started.
Wouldn’t It Be Larvly . . . Loverly . . . Laverly?
A cockney accent isn’t the easiest to replicate, especially not for California born soprano, Marni Nixon.
She had to continuously practice the cockney singing accent when she provided the vocals for Eliza Doolittle.
A feat that earned her the title “Ghostess with the Mostest” as audiences would never see the face behind the amazing talent.
A Mouth Full of Marbles . . . or were they?
Health and safety was still a thing in the 60s so instead of popping a potential choking hazard into the mouth of Audrey Hepburn during Higgins’ eloquencey lessons, grapes were used in place of marbles.
Founded in Greek Mythology
My Fair Lady was based on a play about a mythological ancient Greek sculptor named Pygmalion who created what he considered to be the ideal women out of stone.
The story goes that once the statue was created Pygmalion fell in love with it and on the day of Aphrodite’s festival he wished for a wife to be a living likeness of the woman he’d carved. When he kissed the statue’s lips the woman came to life and married Pygmalion.
My Fair Lady’s Higgin’s is the present day equivalent of Pygmalion, fashioning his ideal women out of Eliza.
A Musical Without Singers
Today musicals are usually filled with the biggest and brightest stars in musical movie making. If you can’t sing you aren’t cast or in the case of Russell Crow in Les Miserable, you sing anyway and get mocked for it.
In the early day’s famous faces were favoured over fantastic voices and therefore musical movies were heavily dubbed. The entire cast, with the exception of Stanley Holloway who played Eliza’s father Alfred had their singing voices dubbed, why wasn’t Russell Crowe dubbed we here you ask? The answer, we just don’t know!
The Dead Penguin Play Mascot
Before My Fair Lady was a film it was a stage play with Rex Harrison still in the role of Higgins.
Apparently, Rex admired the work of the Pygmalion writer Shaw so much that he often referred to a Penguin edition of the play’s script. Whenever things didn’t seem right with the dialogue Rex would bark to stagehands;
“Where’s my Penguin”
After a while, this became a regular command and the crew and directors decided it was time to put a stop to it.
So, one day when Rex gave his usual command a stuffed Penguin was rolled out onto stage instead of his script. The entire cast and crew roared with laughter including Rex Harrison who never asked for his Penguin again.
And finally . . .
The Rain In Spain Does Not Stay Mainly In The Plain, in fact, it rains mostly in the northern hills and mountains of Spain, the plains in the south see very little rain at all.
Book Your Stay At Arthouse Hotel
Come rain or shine, Liverpool is a fabulous place to enjoy a short city break and Arthouse Hotel is located in the very heart of the cities most popular nightlife.
Our rooms can sleep a number of guests all in one space and we have some superb hotel offers ideal for groups of people coming to the city.
Call now on 0151 601 8801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your stay or check out some of our amazing Liverpool hotel offers here.