How to Commit Marriage

How to Commit Marriage is a 1969 comedy film directed by Norman Panama and starring Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason in their only movie together. The supporting cast features Jane Wyman as Hope's wife, Tina Louise as record-producer Gleason's love interest, Leslie Nielsen as the straight man, and Professor Irwin Corey as a Middle Eastern guru named "the Baba Zeba." Tim Matheson also appears in an early role. This was Jane Wyman's final film appearance.[1] A rock band entitled The Comfortable Chair appears as a rock group, performing their song "A Child's Garden." The movie was filmed in the then-current version of Cinerama.

How to Commit Marriage
Directed byNorman Panama
Produced byBill Lawrence
Written byMichael Kanin
Ben Starr
StarringBob Hope
Jackie Gleason
Jane Wyman
Leslie Nielsen
Tina Louise
Tim Matheson
Irwin Corey
Music byJoseph J. Lilley
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byRonald Sinclair
Naho Productions[1]
Distributed byCinerama Releasing Corporation[2]
Release date
  • May 28, 1969 (1969-05-28)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States


Music student Nancy, the 19-year-old daughter of Frank, real estate broker, and Elaine Benson (Bob Hope and Jane Wyman), wants to marry fellow music student David (Tim Matheson), the 20-year-old son of Oliver Poe (Jackie Gleason), record producer. What the bride doesn't know is that her parents are about to get a divorce.

Poe is opposed to marriage and doesn't want the kids to get married. At the church, when the wedding is in progress, he exposes the Bensons' secret. Nancy and David decide marriage isn't necessary. They will live together instead, travel around the country with a rock band and heed the advice and wisdom of a Persian mystic called the Baba Zeba (Professor Irwin Corey).

Frank and Elaine are seeing other people. He is involved with a divorcee, Lois Grey (Maureen Arthur), while she is developing an interest in Phil Fletcher (Leslie Nielsen), who also is recently divorced. Poe, meanwhile, continues to see, LaVerne Baker (Tina Louise), his live in girl friend.

Then one day, Nancy finds out she is pregnant. The Baba Zeba persuades her to put up the baby for adoption, paid off by Oliver. Frank and Elaine conspire behind their daughter's back to adopt their own grandchild.

Complications arise, resulting in Frank trying to bribe the guru and even disguising himself as one of the Baba Zeba's robed followers. By the end, all is resolved; the Bensons get back together, David and Nancy have their baby, even Poe and LaVerne have married giving the film a thrice blessed happy ending.



The film premiered on May 28, 1969 in Miami Beach, Florida.[1] In the week ended June 18, 1969 it had expanded to 8 cities and grossed $145,350.[2]

See also


  1. How to Commit Marriage at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. "50 Top-Grossing Films". Variety. June 25, 1969. p. 11.

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