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Would I Lie to You?
17 Dec 1982
New York and Los Angeles openings: 17 Dec 1982
1 Apr--28 Aug 1982 in New York City and Hudson Valley, NY
Duration (in mins):
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(Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels)
(John Van Horn)
Ronald L. Schwary
Robert D. Wilson
(Man at cab)
Suzanne Von Schaack
(Stage manager #2)
(Mel [Technical director])
Lois De Banzie
Stephen C. Prutting
Although Michael Dorsey is a passionate and respected acting coach in the New York City theater scene, directors continually refuse to hire him because of his combative personality and perfectionism. On his birthday, Michael’s amateur playwright roommate, Jeff Slater, throws him a surprise party at their apartment. Afterward, Michael helps his actress friend Sandy Lester prepare her audition for the television soap opera,
The next morning, Michael accompanies Sandy to the studio, where she is promptly rejected for her appearance. Upon learning that one of his former colleagues received a Broadway role he had been expecting to play, Michael barges into the office of his talent agent, George Fields, and desperately demands more acting jobs. Distressed, George informs Michael that his notorious reputation for being difficult to work with has made him unemployable in the entertainment industry. As a result, Michael returns to the television studio and auditions for
dressed as a middle-aged woman named “Dorothy Michaels.” When director Ron Carlisle dismisses “Dorothy” for not being threatening enough to play the “masculine” hospital administrator, “Emily Kimberly,” she criticizes him for his sexist depiction of women. Impressed by “Dorothy’s” gumption, Ron and producer Rita Marshall hire her for the role. Still in disguise, Michael follows George into a restaurant to announce the news of his job offer, and convinces the agent to loan him money for clothes, makeup, and wigs until he receives his first paycheck. Although Michael plans to use the $8,000 wages to produce Jeff’s most recent play,
Return to the Love Canal,
he keeps his casting a secret from Sandy by claiming he inherited the money from a dead relative. Michael is inspired to try on her clothes while she showers, but when she catches him undressing, he attempts to cover his actions by confessing that he wants to have sex with her. Afterward, she fears that their relationship will change, but Michael promises to continue dating her. The next morning, he awakens early to groom himself and apply makeup for “Dorothy’s” first day of filming. Once in her dressing room, she meets another actress, April Page, and receives the day’s last-minute script changes. On the set, “Dorothy” watches uncomfortably as Ron condescendingly directs the show’s star, Julie Nichols. She is then required to film her scene without rehearsal, and improvises her way out of having to kiss her philandering co-star, John Van Horn. Although her colleagues praise her for the instinctual change, the actor kisses her off-camera anyway. Later, “Dorothy” watches as Julie and Ron leave the studio together, prompting her to become increasingly annoyed with their boss’s chauvinist behavior. When the telephone rings that night, Michael and Jeff argue about how to answer in case the call is for “Dorothy,” and Jeff leaves in frustration. Over the next few weeks, “Dorothy’s” presence elevates the quality of the show and gains her a large fan following. While staying late for re-shoots, “Dorothy” sees Ron kissing April behind the set, but decides not to tell Julie. Forgetting Michael’s dinner date with Sandy that evening, “Dorothy” accepts Julie’s invitation to rehearse their lines for the next day. After fretting over what to wear, “Dorothy” goes to Julie’s apartment and learns that she has an infant daughter. She asks questions about Julie’s relationship with Ron and they discuss the difficulties of being a woman in the 1980s. Suddenly remembering his obligation with Sandy, Michael returns home and removes the disguise before running to her apartment. Despite his apologies, Sandy declares that she saw “Dorothy” entering Michael’s apartment earlier, mistaking her for his lover. Michael claims that she is a friend of Jeff’s, and Sandy apologizes, blaming her continued bitterness over losing the part on
After she criticizes “Dorothy’s” dialogue on the show, Michael begins to improvise lines that strengthen the program’s feminist message. Consequently, both “Dorothy” and the character gain national media attention, and Michael unsuccessfully begs George to let him audition for other female roles. Instead, the agent invites him to a party hosted by a high-profile Broadway producer, also attended by Julie and Ron. Michael then attempts to flirt with Julie by using a pick-up line she referenced in an earlier conversation with “Dorothy;” the plan backfires, however, as she throws champagne in his face. At work, “Dorothy” chastises Ron for disrespectfully addressing her as “Tootsie,” and later accepts Julie’s invitation to stay at her father Les’s farmhouse for the weekend. As Les grows more attracted to “Dorothy,” she eventually escapes his advances by retreating to her and Julie’s room, where they share a bed and fall asleep snuggled together. Once back in New York City, “Dorothy” receives a box of chocolates from Les, and Rita Marshall signs her for another year on
Michael hopes to get out of the commitment, but George insists that revealing his identity would ruin both their careers. One night, “Dorothy” babysits Julie’s daughter while she ends her relationship with Ron. Upon returning, Julie admits that she has very strong feelings for “Dorothy," who responds by attempting to kiss her. Moments later, Les invites “Dorothy” on a date and proposes marriage. Startled, “Dorothy” agrees to “think about it,” and finds John Van Horn waiting on her doorstep at home. Declaring his love, he forces himself on her until Jeff walks in and John leaves in embarrassment. Moments later, Sandy arrives, and the roommates scramble to remove Michael’s disguise. As she confronts him about his evasiveness, Michael gives her “Dorothy’s” box of chocolates, but she finds Les’s note attached to the wrapping. Although Michael explains that he is in love with another woman, Sandy believes he is lying to conceal his homosexuality. At work the next day, Julie thanks “Dorothy” for inspiring her to be true to herself, but ultimately ends their friendship in order to extinguish any hope “Dorothy” may have for a romantic relationship. When a technical difficulty forces the cast to perform their scenes on live television, “Dorothy” strays from the script, inventing an outrageous monologue and pulling off her wig to reveal that “Emily Kimberly” is actually her twin brother, “Edward.” Audience and crew members alike are shocked by the revelation, and once the camera cuts, Julie punches Michael in the stomach. As the ensuing media frenzy begins to diminish, Michael returns Les’s engagement ring and admits that he has always been attracted to Julie. One day, Michael waits for Julie outside of work and apologizes for hurting her. When she confesses that she misses “Dorothy,” he declares, “I was a better man with you as a woman than I ever was with a woman as a man.” Smiling, she asks to borrow one of his dresses, and they walk together down the street.
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Sydney Pollack Film
A Mirage/Punch Production
From Columbia - Delphi Productions
Gerald R. Molen
(Unit prod mgr)
(2d asst dir)
(Dir of photog)
(Cam 1st asst)
(Cam 2d asst)
(Unit still photog)
(Cost des by)
Effective Sound Unlimited
Tom McCarthy, Jr.
(Titles and opticals by)
(Mr. Hoffman's makeup created and des by)
(Mr. Hoffman's makeup created and des by)
C. Romaina Ford
(Mr. Hoffman's makeup)
(Ms. Lange's makeup)
(Ms. Lange's hair stylist)
Toni Howard & Associates
(Extra casting )
(Prod office coord)
(Asst prod office coord)
(Asst to Dustin Hoffman)
(Asst to Sydney Pollack)
"Tootsie," lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, music by Dave Grusin, sung by Stephen Bishop; "It Might Be You," lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, music by Dave Grusin, sung by Stephen Bishop.
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Lenses and Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®
Actors and actresses
Impersonation and imposture
New York City
End credits include the following acknowledgments: “LIFE title and format used with permission of Time, Incorporated,” and, “The Producers would like to thank the following who have helped make this picture possible: the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting; National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; Ben Kahn Furriers for Dustin Hoffman’s furs; Jack Waltzer and his Acting Class; Marvin Belsky, M.D.”
Although onscreen credits denote a copyright date of 1982, Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. did not register the film with the U.S. Copyright Office until 7 Jan 1983.
A 6 Oct 1975
Would I Lie to You?,
a Martin Baum-produced Buddy Hackett comedy about a “broke agent,” as one of a group of features set to begin production under Cine Artists Productions, a company scheduled to launch 1 Nov 1975. The 27 Oct 1983 issue of
reported that the story was adapted by Don McGuire in early 1979, from his own play about a female impersonator pressured into taking a television role playing a nurse. The script was then purchased by Charles Evans, who partnered with actor George Hamilton, screenwriter Robert Kaufman, and director Dick Richards. After Kaufman rewrote the script, he left the project due to creative differences with Evans’s producer brother, Robert Evans.
Meanwhile, in 1978, Dustin Hoffman and playwright Murray Schisgal began developing a script titled
about a male tennis player who pretends to be female in order to win matches. Some time after Hoffman and Schisgal abandoned their idea, Richards brought his screenplay to Hoffman and Columbia Pictures, which, along with additional financing from the Coca-Cola Company, agreed to fund the film’s development. Once the studio officially purchased the property, Charles Evans was named executive producer, and Hoffman hired Schisgal to do another rewrite. The article stated that Schisgal borrowed the title,
from one of his previous works, but a 16 Dec 1982
article claimed that it was derived from an affectionate childhood nickname used by Hoffman’s mother. The 12 Dec 1979
announced that Hoffman and Richards signed an “open-ended” deal with Columbia to produce three films together, the first of which was to be
Production was scheduled to begin in summer 1980, with a late 1980 or early 1981 release. A conflicting 15 Feb 1980
article suggested that Hoffman had signed a commitment to begin work on his and Richards’ film,
stated that following the completion of Schisgal’s two first drafts in late 1979 and Jun 1980, Richards was unhappy with the “sardonic,” humorless tone, and decided to step down as director and instead serve as one of the film’s producers. The 21 Apr 1980
indicated that Schisgal’s script was hoped to be completed in time to begin production that fall.
The 18 Jun 1981
announced that Hal Ashby had assumed the responsibility of directing a script now written by Larry Gelbart. Three months later, the 9 Sep 1981
“Hollywood Soundtrack” column stated that Ashby began preproduction while simultaneously completing post-production on his Lorimar-produced film,
Lookin’ to Get Out
(1982, see entry). However, the 20 Oct 1981
stated that Ashby was likely no longer involved, since his contractual obligation to complete
Lookin’ to Get Out
required ninety-day preproduction period. Despite the change, Columbia stressed the necessity of beginning work by Jan 1982, in order to meet weather requirements and maintain current actor commitments. With the budget set at $15 million, four weeks of rehearsal were expected to take place in Hollywood, CA, before the start of the sixteen-week shoot in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City.
According to the 4 Nov 1981
negotiations to replace Ashby with Sydney Pollack began in late 1981, as Pollack completed Columbia’s
Absence of Malice
(1981, see entry). The decision was confirmed in the 17 Dec 1981
which listed a delayed start date for
of 1 Mar 1982. A 19 Dec 1982
story reported that Pollack originally turned down the job, citing it as a “one-joke movie,” but was ultimately intrigued by the possibility of using realism to develop the story’s themes and the changes undergone by Hoffman’s character, “Michael Dorsey.”
stated that as production loomed nearer, Pollack was still unhappy with the script and sought revisions from writers Barry Levinson and Robert Garland. Levinson’s partner, Valerie Curtin, was reportedly also involved, but her name was not included in any other contemporary sources. Their ten-day contributions were minimal, however, and Pollack reached out to Robert Kaufman, but did not have the money to pay him. As a result, Pollack used a pair of scissors to cut and paste a cohesive, 143-page screenplay from drafts written by McGuire, Kaufman, Schisgal, Gelbart, and Elaine May, who had been hired to add “a woman’s touch.” The 16 Dec 1982
also credited Elaine May with the addition of Bill Murray’s character, “Jeff Slater.” The script was later cut to 125 pages, as Schisgal stayed on the project, without pay, to make modifications throughout production. The article and a 12 Dec 1982
story suggested that Gelbart was the highest paid screenwriter, and that total script costs amounted to somewhere between $1.25 million and $2 million. The 15 Nov 1982
“Just for Variety” column announced that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) officially designated the film’s screenwriting and story credits, leaving Kaufman, Levinson, Garland, and Curtin uncredited, with May deliberately choosing to remain anonymous.
According to a 15 May 1983
article about the publication of Susan Dworkin’s 1983 book,
Making ‘Tootsie’: A Film Study With Dustin Hoffman and Sidney Pollack,
previous contenders for Michael Dorsey/“Dorothy Michaels” included George Hamilton, Chevy Chase, Elliott Gould, and George Segal, while actress Teri Garr originally wanted the role of “Julie Nichols.” However, aside from Hamilton’s early attachment to McGuire’s script, these reports were not verified by other contemporary sources. The 19 Dec 1982
stated that it was Hoffman who suggested casting Bill Murray, and the 12 Dec 1982
claimed that, as a practical joke, Murray requested he receive no credit or publicity for his minor role.
reported that this was done so as not to “confuse” Murray’s younger audience, which was more accustomed to his comedic performances. Although the official budget allotted him a $150,000 paycheck, Murray was reportedly paid $1 million. Hoffman also convinced Pollack, a former actor, to return to the screen to play agent “George Fields.” The 19 Jan 1986
reported that Barneys NY employee Jack D. Weiss helped select Pollack’s clothes for the role, spending more than two hours with the filmmaker deciding on a pair of shoes to be worn for a scene that was later edited out of the film. The 16 Mar 1982
stated that Pollack offered the role of “Ron Carlisle” to his friend and fellow director, Mark Rydell, who declined due to commitments to various other projects, including
(1987, see entry), which was ultimately directed by Martin Ritt. Geena Davis’s performance as “April Page” marked her motion picture acting debut.
As reported by the 10 Mar 1983
Hoffman prepared by researching the ABC soap opera,
(1 Apr 1963-- ) and its producer, Gloria Monty. A 2 Apr 1983
brief stated that he spent three months observing the production backstage. The 17 Jan 1983 issue of
magazine claimed the actor based his performance as Dorothy Michaels on his mother, Lillian Hoffman, who died of a stroke while the picture was in production.
According to a 13 Jul 1982
article, Hoffman’s contract stipulated that he would not do the film if his physical transformation into Dorothy did not look convincing. Over two months of screen testing, filmmakers consulted a female impersonator about Hoffman’s figure, and hid his throat and Adam’s apple behind scarves and costumes with high necklines.
stated that Dorothy’s wig was changed from “cheap” blonde to brown, while Hoffman was required to shave his body hair, undergo pore-minimizing skin treatments, and wear false teeth. The 16 Dec 1982
and a 27 Sep 1982
article by Steven Ginsberg stated that he spent ninety minutes getting dressed each day in foam-rubber buttock padding and four-pound silicone breasts. The two-and-a-half hour makeup application reportedly took two years to perfect, but Hoffman’s skin ultimately appeared discolored next to the other actors and required alterations. A 22 Apr 1982
brief announced that filming was postponed for four days after Hoffman had an allergic reaction to the makeup. Filming fell an additional two weeks behind schedule because the summer heat caused the makeup to wear off and his beard to show through after only four or five hours, minimizing the amount of time he was able to work each day.
In a 4 Jan 1983
article, University of California, Los Angeles, speech consultant Sonya Packer revealed that she was anonymously contacted by one of the film’s producers, who then referred her to Hoffman. To perfect the higher pitches of Dorothy’s voice, she periodically met with the actor from Jul 1980 to Jul 1981, and later, at Hoffman’s recommendation, secretly coached multiple actresses being considered for the picture. Packer does not receive onscreen credit for her contributions. The 13 Jul 1982
stated that Hoffman practiced speaking with a woman’s voice using an oscilloscope from Columbia University in New York City. He reportedly wanted to deliver the lines in French, but he and Pollack decided on using a Southern accent instead.
suggested that Hoffman adopted Dorothy’s lilt by spending two weeks training with his friend, Alabama-born actress Polly Holliday, who the 20 Oct 1981
indicated was also considered for an onscreen role.
The 16 Dec 1982
reported that principal photography took place in New York City between 1 Apr and 28 Aug 1982.
estimated that production was originally scheduled to conclude 1 Jul 1982, but the Steven Ginsberg article confirmed that the film finished twenty-three days over its original seventy-five day schedule, attributed to one day of rehearsal, one day of screen tests, one day of retakes, and unexpected “slowness.” In addition to the delays caused by Hoffman’s makeup, the 27 Sep 1982
stated that the actor suffered from bronchitis and had his hand injured in a door. Pollack disputed previous reports that the film cost $32 million, claiming that the production totalled $21,019,940 without interest—roughly six percent above the original $19,764,946 budget. While a 22 Apr 1981
brief listed Hoffman’s paycheck at $2 million, the 16 Dec 1982
and 19 Nov 1981
estimated the amount between $3.5 and $4.5 million. Pollack reportedly earned $1.75 million.
compared those numbers to Jessica Lange’s wages of approximately $500,000—$700,000.
A 7 Apr 1982
article stated that the film’s soap opera set would occupy the entirety of the TV-1 video studio at the National Video Center and Recording Studios throughout the rest of the month; however, a 26 May 1982
item indicated that production had recently returned to the facilities after two weeks of location shooting. As reported in the 13 Jul 1982
filming took place at the Russian Tea Room, Central Park, and outside Bloomingdale’s department store, while a 4 Aug 1982
brief also included NY’s Hudson Valley among the locations.
reported that the opening montage was filmed at the Palladium in New York City on the final day of production.
The 22 Aug 1984
reported that during principal photography, a New York City pedestrian named Linda Shafarman broke both her legs when she was run over by one of the film’s production trucks on 26 Apr 1982. The story indicated that she later received a $1.75 million settlement from Mirage Enterprises and Ryder Truck Rental Co., and Erie Transfer Co., which supplied the vehicle.
Various sources, including the 16 Dec 1982
indicated that Hoffman argued for creative control throughout production, eventually demanding the right to determine the film’s final cut. He and Pollack frequently fought, sometimes physically, but insisted the disputes were for the benefit of the picture. Although Pollack had ultimate authority, Hoffman was allowed to contribute to the editing process, which took place just six weeks before release.
The 16 Nov 1982
among the films that had received an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). However, a 20 Nov 1982
news item indicated that Columbia almost immediately appealed the decision, and had the rating changed to “PG” by the Classification and Ratings Appeals Board.
claimed that Columbia spent an additional $8—$10 million on marketing costs. According to the 13 Dec 1982
the Los Angeles premiere took place the week of 6 Dec 1982. An 8 Dec 1982
story stated that Columbia held screenings of
(1982, see entry) the two previous weekends, with the intention of previewing
on 11 Dec 1982, before expanding to wide national release on 17 Dec 1982. After 108 days in theaters, the 6 Apr 1983
had become Columbia’s highest-grossing film to date.
Jessica Lange won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the film was also nominated for the following nine categories: Best Picture, Directing, Writing, Film Editing, Cinematography, Music (Original Song), Sound, Actor—Dustin Hoffman, and Supporting Actress—Teri Garr.
ranked #62 on AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films of All Time in 1998, and #69 in 2007. The film is also listed as AFI’s second Funniest Movie All Time.
In addition to Dworkin’s behind-the-scenes book, the 28 Oct 1983
noted the non-theatrical release of the fifty-minute documentary feature,
The Making of Tootsie,
which chronicled the production of the film from the beginning of its development through the completion of principal photography.
On 17 Dec 1996,
stated that Dustin Hoffman and an unnamed
producer from his company, Punch Productions, filed a lawsuit against Columbia, alleging they were jointly denied $1.5 million of the film’s earnings between 1986 and 1990. As a result, they claimed the studio breached the contractual agreement guaranteeing Hoffman twenty-five percent of any grosses earned above $130 million. The outcome of the suit has not been determined.
In 2003, the 17 Jun
announced that Broadway director-producer Harold Prince spoke with Larry Gelbart and Cy Coleman about converting
into a stage musical. A 24 Aug 2012
article named the production the first Sony feature film to be adapted for the stage after Sony Pictures Entertainment’s recent partnership with Scott Sanders Theatrical Productions, but as of Aug 2014, the project has not moved ahead.
6 Oct 1975.
21 Apr 1980
p. 16, 18.
18 Jun 1981.
4 Nov 1981.
17 Dec 1981.
22 Apr 1982.
4 Aug 1982.
27 Sep 1982.
15 Nov 1982.
16 Nov 1982.
10 Mar 1983.
6 Apr 1983.
22 Aug 1984.
17 Jun 2003.
24 Aug 2012
p. 3, 41.
27 Oct 1983
pp. 5-7, 24.
15 Feb 1980
p. 1, 4.
22 Apr 1981.
20 Oct 1981
p. 1, 10.
7 Apr 1982.
20 Nov 1982
8 Dec 1982
p. 3, 13.
28 Oct 1983.
17 Dec 1996.
19 Nov 1981.
12 Dec 1982
Section E, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1982.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1982
Section VI, p. 1, 4-5.
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1982
Section VI, p. 1, 16.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jan 1983
Section VI, p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
2 Apr 1983.
Los Angeles Times
15 May 1983
New York Times
13 Jul 1982.
New York Times
17 Dec 1982
Section III, p. 12.
New York Times
19 Dec 1982
Section H, p. 1, 16.
New York Times
19 Jan 1986.
17 Jan 1983
pp. 69-70, 72-73.
5 Jun 1982.
12 Dec 1979
p. 4, 33.
9 Sep 1981.
16 Mar 1982.
26 May 1982.
8 Dec 1982
8 Dec 1982.
Display Movie Summary
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AFI Catalog of Feature Films
and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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