Five Fun Facts about His Girl Friday (1940)

Five Fun Facts about His Girl Friday

his girl friday


1) Hildy was originally a man

His Girl Friday was adapted from the 1928 Broadway play, The Front Page, which, in turn, was adapted into the 1931 film The Front Page. All three versions revolve around the same storyline, more or less, with one key difference — reporter Hildy Johnson was a male character in The Front Page (Lee Tracy 1928, Pat O’Brien 1931), while Hildy is female in His Girl Friday. The recasting of Hildy as a woman adds a fun romantic spin, courtesy of Rosalind Russell as Hildy, Cary Grant as newspaper editor Walter Burns (and Hildy’s ex-husband), and poor Ralph Bellamy as Bruce Baldwin (Hildy’s fiancé). Need I say more?

Adolphe Menjou and Pat O'Brien in The Front Page 1931
Adolphe Menjou as Walter Burns and Pat O’Brien as Hildy Johnson in The Front Page (1931)
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday
Cary Grant as Walter Burns and Rosalind Russell as Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940)


2) Jiminy Cricket, Sneezy and more…

From Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) and Snow White’s Sneezy (Billy Gilbert) to ‘fun-on-the-side’ Shapeley (Roscoe Karns in It Happened One Night) and the judge who must decide if Santa Claus is real (Gene Lockhart in Miracle on 34th Street), the film’s cast of supporting characters is rich with recognizable faces and voices. You might also recognize Billy Gilbert from the classic Laurel and Hardy short, The Music Box, as Professor von Schwarzenhoffen. 🙂

Cliff Edwards Jiminy Cricket
Cliff Edwards (also known as “Ukelele Ike”) and Jiminy Cricket
Billy Gilbert Sneezy
Billy Gilbert and Sneezy
Roscoe Karns as Shapely in It Happened One Night
Claudette Colbert and Roscoe Karns (as Shapley) in It Happened One Night (1934)
Gene Lockhart as Judger Harper in Miracle on 34th Street 1947
Gene Lockhart as Judge Henry X. Harper in Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


3) Can you say inside joke?

Well, I just love waiting for the two big inside jokes during this film:

1) When Cary Grant (who was born Archibald Leach) says “Listen, the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat.” – and…

2) When Cary Grant says (about Bruce Baldwin played by Ralph Bellamy) “He looks like, uh, that fellow in the movies, you know, Ralph Bellamy.”

But, I just learned of a third (potential) inside joke, or perhaps coincidence(?):

3) When Cary Grant (who played the Mock Turtle in 1933’s Alice in Wonderland) says “Get back in there you Mock Turtle!”

his girl friday Listen, the last man that said that to me was Archie Leach just a week before he cut his throat
Cary mentions Archie Leach 🙂


4) Do I hear wedding bells?

Although Cary Grant’s character was plotting to live ‘happily ever after’ with Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday — in real life, Cary was actually setting the wheels in motion for Roz to meet her soul mate and lifetime love, Frederick Brisson. Roz and Freddie were married in 1941 and did live ‘happily ever after’. And Cary Grant was Best Man at their wedding. 🙂 You can read more about it here at

Cary Grant was Best Man at Rosalind Russell and Frederick Brisson's wedding
Cary Grant (Best Man) at Rosalind Russell and Frederick Brisson’s wedding (1941)


5) I’ll say it again, poor Ralph Bellamy

Ralph Bellamy was also on the losing side of love in The Awful Truth (1937) — another screwball comedy in which ex-husband Cary Grant tries to win back ex-wife Irene Dunne, outmaneuvering poor Ralph Bellamy yet again :). By the way, The Awful Truth was also based on a play (The Awful Truth 1922) and was also a remake of an earlier film (The Awful Truth 1929).

Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth
Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)


Well, those were my five facts, but here are a few extra bonuses, for those so inclined 🙂

His Girl Friday was released nationally in the US on January 18, 1940, which also just so happened to be Cary Grant’s 36th birthday (born Jan 18 1904).

The film was inducted by The Library of Congress into the National Film Registry in 1993.

In addition to His Girl Friday, director Howard Hawks made two more films with both Cary Grant and screenwriter Charles Lederer, both also screwball comedies – I Was a Male War Bride (1949) and Monkey Business (1952). Hawks would also work with Cary Grant on two more films (Bringing Up Baby and Only Angels Have Wings), as well as with Lederer on two more films (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Thing from Another World although Hawks is uncredited).

A few classic movie coincidences here:

  • Alice in Wonderland (1933) featured Cary Grant as The Mock Turtle and Roscoe Karns as Tweedledee.
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947) featured Porter Hall as the nervous, ill-tempered store ‘psychologist’ and Gene Lockhart as honorable Judge Henry X. Harper.
  • Regis Toomey appeared in The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, Man’s Favorite Sport with Roscoe Karns, You’re in the Army Now with Clarence Kolb, and They Died with Their Boots On as well as Meet John Doe with Gene Lockhart

AND – as part of our partnership with Best Classics Ever – you can stream His Girl Friday for free this month on the Classic Movie Hub Channel. Just click here, join for free (no obligation), scroll down and click on the CMH Channel button — and watch for free. Lots of other free movies to watch every month as well, so feel free to explore.

For more related blog articles:

Stream for free this month on Best Classics Ever.


–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

You can read more Five Fun Facts blog posts here.


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