Open main menu

Who Was That Lady?

Who Was That Lady? is a 1960 comedy film directed by George Sidney and starring Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, and Janet Leigh.

Who Was That Lady?
Original film poster
Directed byGeorge Sidney
Produced byNorman Krasna
Written byNorman Krasna
StarringTony Curtis
Dean Martin
Janet Leigh
Music byAndré Previn
CinematographyHarry Stradling
Edited byViola Lawrence
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
April 15, 1960 (1960-04-15)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,100,000 (US/Canada rentals)[1]

The movie was made by Ansark-Sidney, distributed by Columbia Pictures and produced by Norman Krasna, who also wrote the screenplay based on his successful Broadway play Who Was That Lady I Saw You With? The costume design was by Jean Louis. The title song was written by Sammy Cahn.[2]

Dean Martin received a Golden Globe award nomination for his performance in Who Was That Lady?, which also was nominated for Best Comedy.


Ann Wilson (Janet Leigh) catches her strait-laced husband, Columbia University Assistant Professor of Chemistry David Wilson (Tony Curtis), kissing another woman. From David's perspective, he was the one being kissed innocently, the woman in question being a grateful transfer student. However, Ann wants a divorce. On the advice of David's friend, TV writer Michael Haney (Dean Martin), David tries to convince Ann that he is really an FBI agent, the kiss all in the name of national security.

Ann falls for it, but is so impressed with what her husband does for a living that she can't keep quiet about it. Michael is so impressed with Ann's gullibility and patriotic urging of her husband Dave to do more "secret missions" that Michael sets up a date with two blondes with the promise of spending a weekend together with them.

The indiscretions cause a number of complications, including some with the real FBI, the CIA and hostile foreign secret agents.

Main castEdit

Actor Role
Tony Curtis David Wilson
Dean Martin Michael Haney
Janet Leigh Ann Wilson
James Whitmore Harry Powell
John McIntire Bob Doyle
Barbara Nichols Gloria Coogle
Larry Keating Parker
Larry Storch Orenov
Simon Oakland Belka
Joi Lansing Florence Coogle
Mike Lane Glinka the Henchman
Jack Benny Jack Benny

As of January 2016, Larry Storch is the only cast member still alive.

The film also features brief appearances by comedians Wally Brown, Alan Carney, Snub Pollard, and Emil Sitka.

Original playEdit

Who Was That Lady I Saw You With?
Written byNorman Krasna
Date premiered3 March 1958
Place premieredMartin Beck Theatre, New York
Original languageEnglish

In August 1957 Krasna announced his play My Wife and I would be produced on Broadway with David Merrick.[3] This became Who Was That Lady I Saw You With? (1958). The play ended up being produced by Leland Hayward. In December 1957 Alex Segal signed to direct.[4]

The play opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on March 3, 1958.

Original Broadway castEdit

  • Peter Lind Hayes as David Williams
  • Mary Healy as Ann Williams
  • Ray Walston as Michael Haney
  • Roland Winters as Harry Powell
  • Larry Storch as Orlov
  • Gregory Morton as Belka
  • William Swetland as Robert Doyle
  • Roxanne Arlen as Gloria Coogle
  • Virginia de Luce as Florence Coogle
  • Robert Burr as Evans
  • Stephen C. Cheng as Waiter
  • Pamela Curran as Second Tenant
  • Dan Frazer as McCarthy
  • Peter Gumeny as Joe Bendix
  • Richard Kuen Loo as Lee Wong
  • Frank Milan as Parker
  • Joan Morgan as Secretary
  • W. Edgar Rooney as Building Employee
  • Wallace Rooney as Schultz


Walter Kerr called it "an elaborate and extremely funny doodle."[5] Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times said "the actors are more entertaining than the script... the fun gets progressively thinner."[6]

The play ran for 208 performances.[7]

It only had three positive reviews but managed to run three months. Hayward elected not to take the play out touring because he felt as the play involved multiple sets it was too expensive to mount.[8] The play was often revived. A 1965 Los Angeles production starred Dick Miller.[9]


Krasna was sued for $500,000 in a breach of trust claim by writer Valentine Davies, who contended that Krasna incorporated material from Davies' work Love Must Go On.[10]

Davies died in 1961 but his widow continued the suit asking for $1.5 million. The case went to trial in 1962. Groucho Marx gave evidence where he said and Krasna worked on the themes of the play in their script The King and the Chorus Girl.[11]

The first trial ended in a deadlocked jury which was discharged after three days.[12] The second trial found for Krasna saying there was no oral agreement between him and Davies.[13]

There was a third trial that ended in Krasna's favor. A judge ordered a fourth trial in 1972 which was dismissed when judge ruled that Davies should have filed a complaint within two years of discovering (he believed) that Krasna used his material.[14]



In July 1958 Columbia bought the film rights to the play, and hired Krasna to write the script.[15] Hedda Hopper wrote that she hoped the three leads of the play were used instead of stars as "they took a play that wasn't that good and turned it into a great hit".[16] However the stars Dean Martin and Tony Curtis were clients of Lew Wasserman of MCA, as was Krasna - Wasserman had packaged the project with his clients and sold it to Columbia for $350,000.[17]

In September 1958 George Sidney announced he would make the film as part of a three picture deal with Columbia, along with Pepe and Here Come the Brides.[18] The production company, Ansark-Sidney, combines the names of producer Krasna (spelled backwards) and director Sidney.

In March 1959 Debbie Reynolds signed to star alongside Dean Martin and Tony Curtis.[19] Martin's fee at this stage was $200,000 per film.[20] By May Reynolds had dropped out and been replaced by Janet Leigh.[21]


Filming started 13 July 1959. Shortly after filming Leigh called it "the best role I've ever had. The girl is really important in the comedy. Quite a few important changes were made from the stage play because of the expanded movie medium... We had a real ball making the picture; we played practical jokes on each other between scenes that kept everyone in good humor. That George Sidney's a doll too."[22]

Leigh confirmed in her memoirs that making the film "was a romp from start to finish... we really rolled with this one. The personal familiarity of the three of us allowed absolute freedom and the interplay was wild and woolly and inventive."[23]

George Sidney was so taken with Leigh's performance he signed her to appear in Pepe and Diamond Bikini (the latter was not made).[24]


The film was popular and earned over $3 million at the North American box office.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Rental Potentials of 1960". Variety. January 4, 1961. p. 47. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  2. ^ WHO WAS THAT LADY? Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 27, Iss. 312, (Jan 1, 1960): 86.
  3. ^ FARCE BY KRASNA DUE ON BROADWAY: 'My Wife and I' to Be Staged This Season-- New York Times 16 Aug 1957: 12.
  5. ^ 'PREPOSTEROUS': Krasna Joke Gets Laughs Keer, Walter. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]16 Mar 1958: e4.
  6. ^ Theatre: 'Who Was That Lady . . .?': Comedy by Krasna Is at the Martin Beck Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy Star By BROOKS ATKINSON. New York Times 4 Mar 1958: 33
  7. ^ Who Was That Lady I Saw You With? original production at Playbill
  8. ^ KRASNA'S COMEDY TO CLOSE AUG. 30: ' Who Was That Lady?' Will Not Tour, Producer Says -- London Hit Delayed By SAM ZOLOTOW. New York Times 18 Aug 1958: 16.
  9. ^ Dick Miller Brightest Spot in Krasna Play Briggs, Andrew. Los Angeles Times 8 Nov 1965: c21.
  10. ^ Writer Sues Norman Krasna New York Times 21 Nov 1959: 27.
  11. ^ MARX TIME ON STAND: Groucho, in Court, Can't Resist Quips Los Angeles Times 28 Feb 1962: 9.
  12. ^ NEW TRIAL IN FILM SUIT: Jury Discharged in Case of Davies Against Krasna New York Times 8 Mar 1962: 26.
  13. ^ Krasna Found Not Liable in $1.5 Million Suit Los Angeles Times 20 Dec 1963: A3.
  14. ^ SOUTHLAND: Compton Business Owner Slain Los Angeles Times 10 Mar 1972: a2.
  15. ^ 'BLUE DENIM' ENDS RUN AT PLAYHOUSE: Closes After 166 Showings -- Equity May Get Pension and Welfare Plans By SAM ZOLOTOW. New York Times 21 July 1958: 17.
  16. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Stage Star Carol Lynley in Movie of 'Blue Denims' Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 14 Aug 1958: c16.
  17. ^ McDougal, Dennis (1998). The last mogul. Crown Publishers. p. 228.
  18. ^ FILM COMEDY ROLE FOR MISS TAYLOR New York Times 22 Sep 1958: 26.
  19. ^ DEBBIE REYNOLDS IN COLUMBIA DEAL: She Takes Role in 'Who Was That Lady?' -- New York Times 9 Mar 1959: 34.
  20. ^ Tosches, Nick (1992). Dino : living high in the dirty business of dreams. Doubleday. p. 317.
  21. ^ IF THERE'S AN AD, THERE'S MISS WOOD New York Times 7 May 1959: 36.
  22. ^ CAREER SECOND: Janet Puts Family First Janet Puts Her Family First Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 13 Sep 1959: e1.
  23. ^ Leigh, Janet (1985). There really was a Hollywood. Berkley Pub. Group. p. 257.
  24. ^ Looking at Hollywood: He Likens Janet Leigh to Late Carole Lombard Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 27 Aug 1959: c2.

External linksEdit