After graduating from Harvard and joining the Navy, Hollywood comedy legend Jack Lemmon began studying in New York with the acclaimed acting coach Uta Hagen. After some smaller roles in films, he landed a career-defining role as Jerry in Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot. Lemmon was a favorite of Wilder's, who cast him in The Apartment, Irma la Douce, The Fortune Cookie, The Front Page, Avanti!, and Buddy Buddy. Often paired with Walter Matthau in films, Lemmon gained acclaim for his portrayal of Felix Ungar in The Odd Couple in 1968. He also was a frequent collaborator of Blake Edwards, who cast him in The Great Race, Days of Wine and Roses, and That's Life! He received two Academy Awards in his career, one for Best Supporting Actor in 1956 for his work in Mister Roberts, then for Best Actor in 1973 for Save the Tiger.
Asked about his collaborations with Lemmon, Billy Wilder said, ""I would describe him as a ham, a fine ham, and with ham you have to trim a little fat."
Tony Curtis is one of Hollywood's most famous leading men. After being discharged from the Navy, Curtis began working in films, and it was not until he married actress Janet Leigh that his career really took off. His most famous films include Houdini, Operation Petticoat, Some Like it Hot, Spartacus, and The Defiant Ones.
Of Some Like it Hot, Curtis said, "From my recollection, I don't remember any more beautiful girl that was a guy than me."
Marilyn Monroe is perhaps one of the most famous actresses and sex symbols in Hollywood history. In addition to being the image of Hollywood glamor and sexuality throughout much of the century, she was a talented actress who appeared in such films as Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, Some Like it Hot, and The Misfits. The iconic "blonde bombshell," Monroe notably struggled with depression and addiction throughout her career, and her acting abilities are often overshadowed by her sexy image and her untimely death of a drug overdose in 1962 at only 36.
Monroe's experience filming Some Like it Hot is somewhat infamous now. Allegedly, she was very difficult on set, demanding retakes and complaining about the script. When she took the part, Monroe was upset that Sugar seemed like any other "dumb blonde," but at the encouragement of her husband, playwright Arthur Miller, and the studio (who promised her 10% of the film's earnings) she took the part. She often arrived late to set, didn't know her lines, and clashed with the equally strong-minded director, Billy Wilder. Referring to Monroe's bad behavior on set, Tony Curtis allegedly remarked, "Kissing Marilyn was like kissing Hitler."
Joe E. Brown
Osgood Fielding III
In the 1930s and 40s, Joe E. Brown was one of the most popular comics around, known for his roles in Earthworm Tractors and Alibi Ike. After starting out in vaudeville and on Broadway, Brown started working with Warner Bros. and became a successful film star.
George Raft was known for playing criminals and gangsters, even though he also appeared in many films as a likable leading man. In addition to Some Like it Hot, his notable films include Scarface (the original), They Drive by Night, and Each Dawn I Die. In addition to being an accomplished actor, he was a dancer and a performer at speakeasies and on Broadway. In real life, too, Raft was linked to a number of criminal and mafia related events throughout the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Perhaps this connects to his desire not to be categorized as an actor; "I wanted to be me," he allegedly said.
Known for his portrayal of Irish-Americans, Pat O'Brien appeared in many films throughout his career, including Knute Rockne, All American, Angels with Dirty Faces, and Some Like it Hot.
Shawlee's main claim to fame was her expert portrayal of small roles in Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder films. In addition to Some Like it Hot, she appeared in The Apartment, Irma la Douce and Buddy Buddy.
Barry was multi-talented, working as a both a live action actor and a voice actor, as well as a comedian.
Some Like it Hot Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Some Like it Hot is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.