Shirley Temple was cast in this movie because of a chance meeting with Jay Gorney at a movie theater; Gorney noticed Temple dancing in the lobby and arranged with an audition with her.
Clara Bow was originally signed to star in this film, but pulled out at the last minute due to health problems.
Tess Gardella who appears in a "specialty number" in the film, and Sammy Lee, who choreographed it, previously worked together in both the 1927 original Broadway version of "Show Boat" and the 1932 revival. Tess Gardella, in blackface, played the African-American cook Queenie in both productions, which Lee choreographed.
Although Shirley Temple won her Juvenile Academy Award for her film work encompassing 1934, during the 2000 Academy Awards this film was cited as her Oscar winning performance.
Debut of Lurene Tuttle.
For the "Baby, Take a Bow" number with James Dunn, the studio felt it would be easier for Shirley Temple to do the dance she had done at her audition rather than learn a new one, so Temple spent her first day on the set giving Dunn dancing lessons.
The dress that Shirley Temple wore during the "Baby, Take a Bow" number (a white organza with red polka-dots and a full skirt that became her trademark) was her own. Her mother, Gertrude Temple, thought that she would feel more comfortable wearing one of her own dresses, rather than one from the costume department.