Louis Calhern replaced Frank Morgan in the role of Buffalo Bill Cody aka Buffalo Bill after Morgan died just as filming was getting under way. But if you look closely at Buffalo Bill's very first appearance on his horse, you will see a second of Frank Morgan before the shot of Calhern.
Betty Hutton and Howard Keel did not get along during filming. Keel thought that Hutton cared more about her career than her co-stars.
Judy Garland and Frank Morgan, who appeared together in The Wizard of Oz (1939), were scheduled to reappear together in this film. Garland was fired because of health problems, and Frank Morgan died shortly after filming began. As a result of this, Betty Hutton took over Judy Garland's role as Annie Oakley, and Louis Calhern succeeded Frank Morgan as Buffalo Bill Cody aka Buffalo Bill.
After Judy Garland was fired from the film, MGM flirted with the idea of casting Ethel Merman in the role she originated on Broadway, but producer Arthur Freed vetoed the idea, as Merman was dissatisfied with her previous film experiences.
Despite its popularity, this film was unavailable in any form from 1973 until 2000 due to legal tangling between Irving Berlin (and later his estate) and MGM (later Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros). It was finally re-released in 2000 after the 1998 Broadway revival of the stage show with Bernadette Peters renewed interest in seeing this film again.
Writers Dorothy Fields and Herbert Fields and Producers Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II had originally arranged for Jerome Kern to write the musical score. When Kern died suddenly, he was replaced by Irving Berlin. This was the first time that Berlin wrote a score for a show with an existing plot. In his many musical plays and films the songs were written first, then the scripts were written for the situations suggested by the songs.
At the end of the film there are numerous people riding horses in concentric circles. As the camera pulls all the way back, just before "The End" appears, it is clear that they are forming a target with Annie Oakley and Frank Butler in the bulls eye.
Charles Walters did not know that he had been fired and replaced by George Sidney until he heard gossip columnist Hedda Hopper announce it on the radio.
Ginger Rogers wrote in her 1991 autobiography that she told her agent Leland Hayward to aggressively go after this film for her, and that money was no object. She wrote that she would have worked for one dollar, to make it legal. Hayward spoke with Louis B. Mayer, who said: "Tell Ginger to stay in her high-heel shoes and her silk stockings, she could never be as rambunctious as Annie Oakley has to be".
Betty Hutton said in an interview that the crew at MGM was not very nice to her because they told her they'd rather have Judy Garland in the role. However, at a recent screening of the re-mastered print of the film, the surviving members of the cast and crew praised Hutton's performance highly, and acknowledged her contribution to the film. Hutton was one of the surviving cast members who did not attend that screening.
The existing footage of Judy Garland shot prior to her leaving the production shows that some key sequences, most notably "I'm an Indian Too" were originally to have been shot on a sound-stage, rather than outdoors. Besides the major roles mentioned above, several child roles were also recast between Garland leaving the film and production resuming with Betty Hutton, as evidenced by the Garland version of "Doin' What Comes Naturally".
Irving Berlin's "You Can't Get A Man With a Gun" is strikingly similar to "True to the Navy" written by Elsie Janis and Jack King and performed by Clara Bow in Paramount on Parade (1930). That earlier song was later performed by Carmen Miranda in the Fox film Doll Face (1945) but was cut from that film as Paramount threatened to sue.
Before the eventual casting of Judy Garland as Annie Oakley, Doris Day and Judy Canova were mentioned for the role, as well as Betty Hutton (this was before she eventually replaced Garland in the role).
Director Busby Berkeley was also replaced, by George Sidney. Charles Walters had been set to direct after Berkeley left, but was fired before he could actually shoot any of it.
Three years later, Howard Keel was loaned out to Warner Bros. for Calamity Jane (1953) co-starring Doris Day. That project, clearly inspired by the success of Annie Get Your Gun (1950), often led to comparisons between the two films, both of them musical biographies depicting female heroines with western themes.
Script and casting problems delayed the filming schedule for three months, which allowed Judy Garland to appear in In the Good Old Summertime (1949) in relatively good health.
After Judy Garland's firing from the picture, Betty Garrett was briefly considered as a replacement.
Irving Berlin added one original movie song to his Broadway score, "Let's Go West Again," which was deleted. Recordings by both Judy Garland and Betty Hutton are contained on the soundtrack CD issued by Rhino. In addition, Miss Hutton's footage can be seen on the DVD from Warner Home Video.
Robert Lenn and Kathleen Carnes, who performed the song "Who Do You Love, I Hope?" on the stage show's original cast album, did not appear in the Broadway show; they were contract singers working for Decca, which often made use of substitute performers on its original cast albums.
Judy Garland, originally cast as Annie Oakley, was taken ill during early filming and production was halted until Betty Hutton finished Let's Dance (1950) and was called in to replace her.
The original Broadway show "Annie Get Your Gun" opened at the Imperial Theater on May 16, 1946 starring Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton and ran for 1,147 performances.
In the song "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" Annie sings the line "in your hat" referring to her ability to look good in haberdashery. The phrase "in your hat" was specifically prohibited by the revised 1934 Production Code because it alluded to telling someone to go to the bathroom in their own headgear. Composer-lyricist Irving Berlin pulled a fast one on the Breen Office by referencing grooming. Betty Hutton sells the lyric here; in the unused Judy Garland version she says it more innocently.
Footage exists with Judy Garland in the lead role before she was fired. This footage has been included in numerous documentaries.
Bernadette Peters was the last person to originate the role of Annie Oakley in a Broadway revival, for which she won a Tony award. This production turned out to be the longest running production of the show ever. Peters said in a NY interview she had wanted to play this role for years, given the bad press that surrounded the Betty Hutton movie version from the very beginning. This included the loss of Frank Morgan, the releasing of Judy Garland and Busby Berkeley , and the record-breaking royalty payments resulting from not hiring any of the New York production performers, including the refusal to work with Ethel Merman. Merman's own failed attempt to revive the show on Broadway, where she then played Annie more than 20 years older than in her first production, led certain NY producers to avoid revivals of the show for some time.
In the opening "Colonel Buffalo Bill" number the blonde standing next to Howard Keel wears a pink polka dot gown which has been recycled from Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), and worn by Betty Garrett in the "Clambake" scene.
Charles Walters suggested to Arthur Freed that Betty Grable would be an ideal Annie Oakley. However, Twentieth Century-Fox wouldn't loan her out.
Costars Howard Keel and Keenan Wynn both went on to have recurring roles on the television show Dallas (1978).
Howard Keel played Annie's love interest in Annie Get Your Gun. Oakley's boyfriend was real life sharpshooter Frank Butler. The studios tapped Hollywood's favorite singing cowboy Keel again to play Wild Bill Hickox, Calamity Jane's real life beau in the Annie Get Your Gun ripoff, Calamity Jane, which was released in 1953.
Both Ethel Merman; who played Annie Oakley on Broadway; and Judy Garland; who was originally cast to play Annie in the movie version of Annie Get Your Gun before she was fired for erratic behavior; were vying to play Annie in the film version of this famous show; and ironically both were shot down and were replaced by Betty Hutton. Also ironically, both performed the famous showstopping theme song from AGYG; "There's No BUsiness Like Show Business"; on Judy Garland's Variety show in the 1960s; as a response to all this.
The original filming of the opening number, "Colonel Buffalo Bill," with Frank Morgan appearing as Buffalo Bill Cody aka Buffalo Bill, and Geraldine Wall featured as Dolly Tate, is an extra on the DVD release from Warner Home Video.
Many of Annie Oakley's contemporaries, both in the west and in show business, said she was the better than anyone else with long gun. She reportedly never missed a target during a show.