The film used over 1,000,000 props.

The film's credits appear with the Sistine Chapel ceiling as background. Charlton Heston played Michelangelo, the painter of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, in the film The Agony and the Ecstasy.

The first of only three films to win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It also has the highest percentage of winning Academy Awards. In 1959 and 1960 there were only 12 categories. 11 of 12 = 91 and 2/3%, 91.667%.

The large "island" in the stadium was great for filming, since a backdrop of a stone wall is cheaper to film than a backdrop of thousands of extras. However, such an "island" in a real stadium prevents spectators from viewing the race properly at all angles and would not normally exist.

The only Hollywood film to make the Vatican approved film list in the category of religion.

The production cost MGM a massive $15 million and was a gamble by the studio to save itself from bankruptcy. The gamble paid off, with the film earning $75 million.

The rumor that Stephen Boyd's double was killed during the chariot race is false. According to second-unit director Yakima Canutt, the "Messala" that was run over, a Roman soldier standing on the center island who was hit by a chariot and the driver of a spilled rig who jumped out of the way of one chariot but was immediately run over by another one were all articulated and weighted dummies (made with movable arm and leg joints), so when they were hit they "reacted" the way a normal human body would in that situation. A combination of adroit placement and expert editing made the dummies look like real people being run over.

This is believed to be one of only three MGM films where the studio's trademark Leo the Lion did not roar at the beginning of the opening credits, apparently because of the religious theme in the film. The others were The Next Voice You Hear... (another film with a religious theme) and Westward the Women. (The lion used in 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey was the new illustrated logo first used in the credits for that film, not a real lion. But this logo was shortly discarded permanently, and so doesn't count.)

This is the only one of the three movies who have won 11 Academy Awards (the others being Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) to have won an Oscar for acting performances.

This was to be the last film for Cathy O'Donnell who was then married to Robert Wyler, the director's brother.

Three lifelike dummies were placed at key points in the chariot race to give the appearance of men being run over by the chariots. The best of these was the stand-in dummy for Stephen Boyd's character that gets tangled up under the horses hooves and gets trampled to death. This resulted in a realistic death sequence that shocked the theater audiences of the time, and spawned an urban legend that this was a real death.

Upon reading Karl Tunberg's original script, William Wyler had written in the margins "awful...horrible". Consequently, he brought in Gore Vidal - who was on contract with MGM at the time and hated being so - to rewrite the screenplay. Vidal also thought that Tunberg's script was dreadful and initially didn't even want to take on the project. He changed his mind when Wyler promised to get him out of the remaining two years of his contract. Christopher Fry then polished up Vidal's work on the screenplay and wrote a new ending. Neither Fry or Vidal received screen credit for their work on the film, something which infuriated Wyler so much that he leaked the story to the press.

Urban legend claims that 4 stuntmen were killed during the filming of the chariot race. There is no truth to this whatsoever.

Wednesday, November 18, 1959, was exactly the same month, date and year that actor, Arthur Q. Bryan died and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer originally released Ben-Hur.

When he was cast as Messala, Stephen Boyd grew a bushy beard for the role, only to be told that fashionable Roman men of the time didn't wear beards.

When it came time to film inside the boat, it was discovered that the large 65mm cameras wouldn't fit. The boat had to be taken out of the pond, cut in half lengthwise, and placed in an Italian sound stage. The oars wouldn't fit in the sound stage, so they had to cut them off just beyond the hull. This resulted in an extremely light oars which, when rowed by the actors, didn't look believable, since you could move them with one hand. To solve the problem, Mauro Zambuto sent an army of production assistants to all of the hardware stores in Rome to buy the kind of spring-and-hydraulic piston mechanisms that are normally attached to doors to force them closed but to keep them from slamming. Placing these devices on the oars and the hull gave enough resistance to make the rowing scenes look realistic.

When Simonides and Esther came to visit the family house of the Hur's, Miriam, Judah and Tirzah. Judah Ben-Hur spoke to him nice in calling Simonides' name, Miriam also said Simonides' name, shortly after Judah. These are the only two times that Simonides' name was verbally said, through-out the movie, because when the name is pronounced, it has four syllables.

When the screenplay credit went to arbitration, the WGA accorded sole credit to screenwriter Karl Tunberg, despite Gore Vidal's rewrite and Christopher Fry's polish.

Wyler left all the details of the chariot race - every shot, crash and stunt - in the hands of his second-unit director Andrew Marton. When he saw the final version of Marton and lead stuntman Yakima Canutt's work, Wyler remarked that it was "one of the greatest cinematic achievements" he'd ever seen.