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I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?

I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?(1947)

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The working title of this film was Hello, My Baby. The film begins with the following foreword signed by producer "Georgie" Jessel: "This is a story based on incidents from the early life of that ageless American troubadour, Joseph E. Howard, who wrote and sang the nation's songs at the turn of the century. Caring little for money and less for fame, Joe was a rolling stone that left a trail of melody from coast to coast and wherever he went there was sure to be a lovely face, a trim ankle and the fragrant memory of melodies that can never be forgotten, gad, what a life!" The film was conceived as a vehicle for the music of composer-singer-vaudeville star Joesph E. Howard (1867-1961), rather than as a strict biography. Howard ran away from home as a young boy, made his debut in vaudeville at the age of ten or eleven, and went on to author over 525 songs and 22 stage musicals. Together with Frank Adams and Will Hough, he wrote 15 popular musical shows. The trio wrote the song "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" in 1906. Howard was married at least six times.
       According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, Fred Finklehoffe and George Jessel worked on various outlines, screenplays and stories for the film between June and September 1945. Darryl F. Zanuck, the head of production at the studio, who is credited on various drafts as Melville Crossman, hated their work and insisted on a total rewrite. In an October 11, 1945 memo, Zanuck suggested that the story line include a little girl who grows up to love "Joe" and proposed June Haver for the role. Other materials in the Scripts Collection disclose that the studio bought the rights to a story written by Bill Delany titled I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now. In a letter dated August 22, 1945, studio attorney George Wasson stated that the story was acquired to eliminate Delaney's claim that he owned a 25% interest in the project, and that little or none of his material was actually used.
       Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about this production: A June 1946 item notes that Celeste Holm, who was originally slated to play the role of "Lulu Madison," withdrew from the cast to take maternity leave. A July 1946 item adds that Linda Darnell rejected the role of "Katie" because she felt it was ill-suited for her. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts place Reed Hadley in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. August 1946 news items note that acrobatic tumbling clowns George Suzanne and Loren Riebe were signed to perform a specialty act and Ted Doner was hired for a supporting role, but their appearance in the released film has not been confimred. This picture marked the screen debut of Gene Nelson, a former dancing skater in Sonja Henie's ice troupe.
       Materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also located at UCLA, reveal that the studio went to great effort to obtain the rights to every song performed in the film and procured privacy waivers from Howard and his various wives. Hough refused to sign a waiver until the studio agreed to credit him as the lyric writer onscreen as well as portray his character as the writer of Howard's lyrics. According to a letter dated April 26, 1945, the studio wanted to include Howard's song "Somewhere in France There's a Lily," but were deterred from doing so because of problems securing the rights. According to Hollywood Reporter and Hollywood Citizen-News news items, in July 1947, composer Harry Orlob sued the studio and Howard, claiming that he wrote the music for the song "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," as well as approximately 100 other songs credited to Howard. The suit was settled when the defendants agreed to give Orlob credit for composing the tune.