The character of Maria Vargas is said to be based on Rita Hayworth, who was actually offered the part. Hayworth was a Latina who later married a prince, Prince Aly Khan. However, some elements were taken from Ava Gardner's life as well. The stormy relationship between Maria and the tycoon movie producer Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) is based on Gardner's own relationship with billionaire film producer Howard Hughes.
The name "Lloyd Richards" appears on the marquee of Maria's first film. "Lloyd Richards" is the name of Margo Channing's playwright friend in All About Eve, also by written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.