Coming off of his brilliant performance in Some Like it Hot, which was also directed by Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon was the first choice to play the feckless C.C. Baxter. He perfectly embodies Baxter's "everyman" appeal as well as a particularly charming comedic flair. In an interview with the American Film Institute, Lemmon said, "[A] thing I loved about The Apartment...was the fact that there were so many faults in the characters. Billy was never afraid—in fact he would seemingly go out of his way—to manifest the faults in characters, 'cause we all are faulted."
Lemmon was raised in Massachusetts, and attended Andover and then Harvard. After studying in New York with Uta Hagen, he began working in films. He became a favorite of both Billy Wilder, who directed him in Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, Irma la Douce, The Fortune Cookie, Avanti!, The Front Page, and Buddy Buddy. He was also a favorite of Blake Edwards and Richard Quine. He won an Oscar for his performances in Mister Roberts and Save the Tiger.
Her role as Fran Kubelik was MacLaine's breakout performance. She made her film debut in The Trouble with Harry directed by Alfred Hitchcock, for which she won a Golden Globe award as a promising newcomer. For her role in Some Came Running, MacLaine received an Academy Award nomination. Her role in The Apartment was her second nomination. She also received nominations for her work in Irma la Douce and The Turning Point. In 1983 she won the Oscar for her role in Terms of Endearment.
Other films include The Children's Hour, Sweet Charity, Steel Magnolias, Postcards from the Edge, Guarding Tess, In Her Shoes, and Coco Chanel. In addition to her acting credits, MacLaine is well known for her New Age beliefs. She is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation and has said that she lived in Atlantis in a past life.
Fred MacMurray was one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood history. MacMurray got the part of philandering Jeff Sheldrake after Billy Wilder's first choice, Paul Douglas, unexpectedly died. MacMurray's first collaboration with director Billy Wilder was on the 1944 film noir Double Indemnity.
While he appeared in films such as The Gilded Lily, Alice Adams, Above Suspicion, and Swing High, Swing Low, MacMurray was known primarily for acting in Disney films such as The Absent-Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog. Another iconic role of his was as the father in the beloved television sitcom My Three Sons.
Veteran character actor Jack Kruschen took the place of first choice Lou Jacobi, who had to drop out of the film to take a part on Broadway. Kruschen depicted Dr. Dreyfuss with an infectious and undeniable warmth, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Other films include Cape Fear, Follow That Dream, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. He also appeared on many television shows throughout his career, including Murphy Brown, Columbo, Batman, Bonanza, Barney Miller, and Full House.
Edie Adams was a successful character actress and comedienne, who won both a Tony and an Emmy Award over the course of her career. She was married to comedian and close friend of Jack Lemmon's, Ernie Kovacs. In addition to her iconic impersonations of such figures as Marilyn Monroe, Adams appeared in such films as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Best Man, and The Honey Pot.
David Lewis was an actor whose best known credit was on General Hospital. He also appeared in several films, including The Absent-Minded Professor (with Fred MacMurray).
Hope Holiday is perhaps best known for her role as the air-headed but aggressive Margie in The Apartment. After appearing in many Broadway musicals, Holiday appeared in a number of films including The Apartment and another Billy Wilder/Shirley MacLaine collaboration, Irma la Douce.
The Apartment Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Apartment is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.