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The working titles of this film were The Smoothest Gal in Town, The Life of Texas Guinan and Texas Guinan. The film opens with the following written foreword: "This picture was inspired by the life of one of the immortals of show business, Texas Guinan, queen of the night clubs. She hit Broadway like a skyrocket, dazzled it briefly with a million-dollar personality, and then died, as she had often foretold, at the height of her career." According to a New York Times article, Guinan's family contributed the family archive of news clippings to Paramount for background research. Publicity materials in copyright records indicate that Betty Hutton's mother, Mabel Adams, was given a bit part in the picture, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items reported the following information about the production: Producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. purchased the screen rights to Texas Guinan's life in 1939, and was considering writer Gene Fowler for the script. No information has been found on the sale of Guinan's life story to Paramount, however. Robert Sisk was originally listed as producer of the Paramount production, but left the studio in 1942. Alan Ladd was first cast as "Kilgannon," but was inducted into the Army. Paramount then sought Warner Bros. actor Humphrey Bogart for the lead, and following that, cast Brian Donlevy. Donlevy was placed on suspension for refusing the role, however. Charles Quigley was also tested for the lead. New York dancers Johnny Coy, Frederick Nay and John Deauville were cast for special dance routines, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. This film marks jazz pianist Maurice Rocco's feature film debut. Some scenes were shot on location in Tucson, AZ.
Texas Guinan (1884-1933), born Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan, in Waco, TX, started out in wild west shows and worked her way to Broadway. She became renowned during the Prohibition era as a hostess of New York speakeasies who used the phrase, "Hello, suckers!" Guinan also appeared in the following two films: Warner Bros.' 1929 film Queen of the Nightclubs, directed by Bryan Foy, in which Guinan was the star, and Twentieth Century Picture Corp.'s 1933 film Broadway Thru a Keyhole, directed by Lowell Sherman and starring Constance Cummings and Paul Kelly. (For further information on the films, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4394 and AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.00506.) According to modern sources, Southern critics and audiences protested the casting of Mexican actor Arturo de Cordova, because William Kilgannon was actually Irish, not Mexican-Irish, as portrayed in the film. Incendiary Blonde was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture).