Ginger Rogers' accent is a homage to the Polish-born actress Lyda Roberti, who played the role on Broadway.
Lucille Ball, an unknown RKO contract player at the time, appears uncredited as a model in a fashion show. She wears a large feather cape, and her hair is bleached platinum blonde.
Lucille Ball, who appears uncredited in this film as a fashion model, would later buy RKO, the studio that made this film. At the height of their success during I Love Lucy, she and Desi Arnaz purchased it and renamed it Desilu Studios.
During "I Won't Dance," Ginger Rogers sings to Fred Astaire: "But when you dance you're charming and you're gentle/ Especially when you do the Continental," referring to the dance in their previous film, The Gay Divorcee. The two then strike a pose from that number while the band plays a riff.
RKO producer Pandro S. Berman insisted that the studio pay whatever it took to buy the rights to "Roberta", a huge success on Broadway. The gamble paid off, netting the studio $770,000 and helped RKO post its first annual profit since 1930.
RKO sold the rights to "Roberta" to MGM, who remade the film as Lovely to Look at. MGM kept the film "Roberta" out of distribution for many years, as it did not want any competition between the two films.
The original Broadway production included Sydney Greenstreet, Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, George Murphy and Fay Templeton. In the film, Fred Astaire's role is a combination of Hope's and Murphy's roles, and Greenstreet's role is played by Ferdinand Munier.
The original Broadway production, based on the book "Gowns by Roberta", was produced by Max Gordon, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Otto A. Harbach. The play opened on Nov. 18, 1933 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York and ran for 295 performances.
The original lyrics to "Let's Begin" include the lines "We have necked / Till we're wrecked", but the censors demanded that this be changed.
The songs "I Won't Dance" and "Lovely to Look At" were not in the original stage production of "Roberta". "I Won't Dance", from the flop Jerome Kern musical "Three Sisters", was inserted into the 1935 film version of "Roberta" to give Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers an extra dance number, and "Lovely to Look At" was especially written for the film to give Irene Dunne a new song to sing. Both songs became so popular, however, that most later revivals of "Roberta", including the remake Lovely to Look at, have included them in the score.
This is one of only two Astaire/Rogers films (along with The Gay Divorcee), which is based on a Broadway musical. The Broadway stage version of "The Gay Divorcee" (titled "Gay Divorce") starred Fred Astaire in the same role he played on film, however, while the stage version of "Roberta" starred neither Astaire nor Ginger Rogers.