How to Be Very, Very Popular

How to Be Very, Very Popular is a 1955 comedy film written, produced and directed by Nunnally Johnson. The film starred Betty Grable in her final movie role and introduced Sheree North.

How to Be Very, Very Popular
Directed byNunnally Johnson
Produced byNunnally Johnson
Screenplay byNunnally Johnson
Based onBased upon a play by Howard Lindsay
from a novel by
Edward Hope, and a play
by Lyford Moore
and Harlan Thompson
StarringBetty Grable
Sheree North
Bob Cummings
Charles Coburn
Tommy Noonan
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
conducted by
Lionel Newman
CinematographyMilton Krasner A. S. C.
Edited byLouis Loeffler
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 22, 1955 (1955-07-22)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.7 million


Stormy Tornado and Curly Flagg are two showgirls from a San Francisco cabaret who witness the murder of one of their fellow performers and can identify the killer. Not wanting to get mixed up in a murder rap, the girls flee the scene and hide out at Bristol College, disguising themselves as boys. However the need for attention makes the girls want to stand out in their stage costumes and then the trouble begins.[2][3]



How to Be Very, Very Popular was the third adaptation derived from the 1933 novel She Loves Me Not by Edward Hope. The novel was first made into the 1934 Paramount comedy She Loves Me Not which starred Miriam Hopkins as Curly Flagg and co-starred Bing Crosby. That was then remade as True to the Army for Paramount in 1942. However How to Be Very, Very Popular was based on the Broadway play of the same name by Howard Lindsay[4] which was adapted from the original Edward Hope (Edward Hope Coffey)[5] novel.[6]

The character of Curly Flagg was the lead in She Loves Me Not but was made the secondary character to Stormy Tornado in How to Be Very, Very Popular to accommodate Betty Grable.

This was the last film Betty Grable made in her career. She had been the number one box office attraction throughout the 1940s and early 50s with her films making enormous amounts of money for 20th Century Fox.

Marilyn Monroe, Fox's top moneymaker at the time, was approached by the studio to star opposite Grable in this film. She wasn't fond of the script and at the time was yearning for some dramatic and challenging roles to play and therefore declined the film. She also turned down The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing and was replaced by Joan Collins. Grable and Monroe had previously starred together in How to Marry a Millionaire which is credited for basically creating the changeover in who was the top star at Fox. Grable was the top star in the 1940s and Monroe would become the top star of the 50s. However, there was no rivalry between the two bombshells, in fact Grable is said to have famously told Monroe, "go and get yours honey! I've had mine". The two became friends after that.

Johnson said North had "been in the bull pen warming up too long and I'll hope she'll emerge from this a star. To date she's just been a threat but she's good looking and frank as they come."[7]

Monroe would later star in Some Like It Hot, which had a similar plot—two male entertainers witness a murder, then flee disguised as women.

Song credit


At the time of its release, How to Be Very, Very Popular was greeted with mixed to positive press. Betty Grable's performance was generally praised, whereas newcomer Sheree North's performance drew less impressive notices. North appeared on the cover of LIFE just before the film's release. It enjoyed reasonable success, earning an estimated $1.65 million in rentals at the North American box office during its first year of release.[8]

See also


  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p249
  2. "AT THE IMPERIAL These Girls Know 'How to Be Very, Very Popular'" (The News and Eastern Townships Advocate, November 10, 1955, page twenty two)
  3. "NEW FILMS by "The Age" film critic (The Age, April 27, 1956, page 2)
  5. "Princeton Alumni Weekly". 1957.
  6. Theodossin, Ernest. "CURRENT MOVIES At the State… How to Be Very, Very Popular, with Betty Grable, Sheree North and Bob Cummings" (The Michigan Daily, July 29, 1955, page 2)
  7. Sheree North Joining All-Star Cast at 20th Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 19 Jan 1955: B6.
  8. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
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