Charming comedy Three Men and a Baby was the biggest box office hit of 1987. Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg star as a trio of affluent bachelors sharing an upscale New York apartment, whose lives are turned upside down by the unexpected arrival of a newborn baby. Here are some facts about the beloved comedy which you might not have known.
20. Pampers paid $50,000 to be featured in one scene
When you’ve got a baby as one of the stars of an upcoming movie, then you can be sure that the nappy manufacturers will be first in line to strike up a sponsorship deal with producers.
And that’s exactly what happened with Three Men and a Baby, when the film’s production team were approached by Pampers with a huge amount of money to showcase their brand.
The diaper company had a contract ready to go and movie executives were more than happy to sign on the dotted line.
Pampers reportedly paid a whopping $50,000 for their nappies to be used in the film.
The brand can be spotted in a supermarket scene, and prominently features when the hapless men first attempt to change the baby.
Three Men and a Baby also features paid promotional appearances from toy brand Sophie the Giraffe and Cheetos.
19. The three main actors had a lot of fun partying together
It turns out that the on-screen chemistry between leading men Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson may well have developed thanks to their partying ways.
All three men were at the peak of their careers in the 80s and they were certainly making the most of life during the filming of Three Men and a Baby.
In fact, one night before filming began, the three actors decided to paint the town red and go out in Toronto after a long day of rehearsals.
Selleck, Guttenberg and Danson caused quite a stir in Toronto after they were spotted visiting a series of clubs and bars in the Canadian city, but apparently the night out had a more serious aim in mind.
The actors wanted to help build the hard-partying bachelor bond they were supposed to have in the movie.
This was especially important for Danson, who (unlike Selleck and Guttenberg) was not a real-life bachelor at the time.
18. Over five thousand women auditioned for a chance to see Tom Selleck in the flesh
When Tom Selleck was cast in Three Men and a Baby, he was one of the biggest heartthrobs around.
This was primarily down to his years playing the title role in the hit TV series Magnum, P.I.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that a myriad of fans jumped at the chance to meet Selleck during filming of Three Men and a Baby.
One day the production team announced that the film required over one hundred extras for a party scene taking place in Peter’s bachelor pad.
A whopping five thousand women turned up to the audition call, mistakenly believing that even if they didn’t get the part, they’d at least be in with a chance of meeting Selleck!
Unfortunately Selleck and the other actors were all working on a different scene at the time, leaving 4,900 very disappointed ladies.
17. It was a remake of a French film
Fans of the popular 80s film might not realise that Three Men and a Baby is actually a remake.
Two years earlier, the same story was told in 1985 French film 3 hommes et un couffin (Three Men and a Cradle).
Roland Giraud, Michel Boujenah and André Dussollier take the roles that were later played by Selleck, Guttenberg and Danson.
While 3 hommes et un couffin had been a success on its home soil, the massive popularity of the US remake only helped boost the reputation of the original.
The film later spawned the 2003 sequel, 18 ans après (18 Years After) – which has nothing to do with Three Men and a Baby’s sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady.
In the years since, 3 hommes et un couffin has been remade not once, but six times more in India.
16. The film was passed on by several production companies
Three Men and a Baby may have wound up a huge hit, but early in its development many in Hollywood were unconvinced.
The script initially received a lukewarm response from many studio executives, and it was passed over by several different production companies.
It was first pitched to TriStar Pictures, but they declined to make it. Next, Universal were offered the project and also turned it down.
It seems that many studios felt the project was too soft and childish – but unsurprisingly, this wasn’t a problem for Disney.
The traditionally family-friendly studio liked the script, and decided to release it under their Touchstone Pictures banner.
We imagine the other studios were cursing themselves when they realised what a huge hit they could have had.
15. Margaret Colin also played Tom Selleck’s on-screen love interest in two other movies
Sometimes actors just end up getting thrown together several times over – think Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, or Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
In the case of Three Men and a Baby, leading man Selleck has found himself working alongside Margaret Colin several times over the course of his career.
Colin co-stars in Three Men and a Baby as Rebecca, Peter’s non-exclusive girlfriend who refuses to help him look after baby Mary.
While this was the only film Colin and Selleck have made together, they’ve been romantically entangled on the small screen twice.
In 1988, Colin made a guest appearance in an episode of Magnum, P.I., as a love interest of Selleck’s Magnum.
More recently, Colin and Selleck reunited in a 2012 episode of TV cop drama Blue Bloods.
14. Coline Serreau was originally supposed to direct the film
Coline Serreau is a celebrated French actor and filmmaker who wrote and directed the original 3 hommes et un couffin.
If things had gone according to plan, Serreau might have also called the shots on the Hollywood remake.
She was originally attached to direct Three Men and a Baby when the project went into development.
- Credit: Mouvement Colibris via Wikimedia Commons
Ultimately, Serreau wound up dropping out of the movie after casting the three male lead actors.
Exactly why Serreau quit the film is unclear, but it’s doubtful that her outspoken feminism went over well in 80s Hollywood.
She once described her film as “the story of three dumb a**holes who fall in love with a baby. They’re discovering the real values in life, which were not the ones they were brought up with. Patriarchal values are not the ones that make people happy. In fact, these values destroy men.”
13. It was an unexpectedly big hit
With Selleck, Guttenberg and Danson at the height of their fame, hopes were high that Three Men and a Baby would draw an audience.
However, no one involved with the film anticipated it proving quite the huge success it eventually became.
Having cost $11 million to make, Three Men and a Baby took a staggering $167 million at the North American box office alone.
This made it the number one movie of 1987 in the US, overtaking such hits as Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop II and Good Morning, Vietnam.
With global box office takings added in, Three Men and a Baby’s final haul was $240 million.
On top of this, the film went on to do perform handsomely on VHS, and soon became popular on television screenings.
12. The film was directed by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy
The late Leonard Nimoy is best known for playing the iconic character Mr Spock in the Star Trek franchise.
However, you might not have been aware that as well as acting, Nimoy was also a seasoned director.
Starting out as a TV director in the 70s, Nimoy enjoyed big screen success behind the camera on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- Credit: Kelly Walker via Wikimedia Commons
After directing those hits, Nimoy unexpectedly went in a different direction by taking on Three Men and a Baby in 1987.
Unfortunately, Nimoy followed up Three Men and a Baby with two flops, The Good Mother and Funny About Love, and his directing career soon fizzled out.
Nimoy’s final credit as a director came in 1995 when he directed the pilot episode of TV series Deadly Games.
11. Working with babies proved a challenge for the cast and crew
There’s an infamous, oft-repeated maxim in the entertainment industry: never work with children or animals.
This was obviously going to be a significant issue on Three Men and a Baby, with a newborn infant as a central character.
However, Nimoy and his actors decided to take on the challenge of working with real babies in the movie.
- Credit: Disney
Apparently the two babies cast as little Mary reacted perfectly well to filming at first, and didn’t seem to be phased by their time in front of the camera.
However, this dream scenario didn’t last long, and the babies became harder to manipulate as filming drew to a close.
Rather than being interested in the male actors, the twins became fascinated with the microphone and in the end it had to be used to draw out their movements and responses!
10. Hundreds of babies were considered to play Mary
Just like any other acting part, hundreds of babies were auditioned for the role of Mary.
As is common in Hollywood, twins were used so that each baby would have a chance to rest.
Nimoy ended up watching hundreds of home videos of twins in order to decide which babies would make the final cut.
- Credit: NBC
In the end the job went to twin sisters Lisa and Michelle Blair (pictured above in a more recent photograph).
Their mother Geriann has explained since, “I was just bored at home on [maternity] leave and I heard about this casting call.”
“I thought it was just a scene in a movie, I had no idea it was a big major motion production.”
9. Tom Selleck is covered in real baby pee on the poster
In creating promotional material for the film, Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson posed for a photo shoot with the baby Blair twins.
During the process of this shoot with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, something unexpected happened.
Whilst Selleck was holding the baby, she peed on him for real – and this was the shot that ultimately became the movie’s poster.
It was ultimately agreed that this spontaneous moment perfectly captured the overall tone of the movie.
All these years later, this image is often regarded one of the most iconic movie posters of the 1980s.
Other famous photos taken by the legendary Annie Leibovitz include Demi Moore’s Vanity Fair cover and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Rolling Stone cover.
8. There was tension between director Leonard Nimoy and the three leading men
According to reports from the set of Three Men and a Baby, director Leonard Nimoy had a hard time getting on with his trio of lead actors.
Rumour has it that the director ended up having several huge clashes with Selleck, Danson and Guttenberg over the course of filming the movie.
It probably didn’t help that all three actors had headlined their own hits, and subsequently Nimoy had three major egos to handle!
- Credit: Larry D. Moore via Wikimedia Commons
As a result, they found it difficult to take orders from Nimoy, a successful actor in his own right.
This might explain why Nimoy did not return to call the shots on 1990 sequel Three Men and a Little Lady.
7. The actors considered for the lead roles included Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and John Travolta
Once the film was accepted by Disney, casting directors immediately tried to land some high-profile actors to play the three main characters in the movie.
As might be expected of a major studio film, some very big names were considered early on.
Before Tom Selleck was cast as Peter Mitchell, the legendary Jack Nicholson had been in the running.
Tom Hanks and John Travolta were considered for the role of Michael Kellam, which eventually went to Steve Guttenberg.
Steve Guttenberg later claimed that Michael J. Fox and Tony Danza were being considered for Ted Danson’s part of Jack Holden.
Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Bill Murray and Steve Martin are all said to have been on the studio’s wish list.
6. An urban legend claimed that a ghost can be seen in the movie
For many years, an urban legend has persisted about Three Men and a Baby featuring an uncredited appearance from a ghost.
The rumour came about after eagle-eyed viewers spotted what appeared to be a little boy standing deathly still behind the curtains in Jack’s apartment.
It was widely claimed that the scene had been shot in an apartment where a young boy died by falling from the window, and the apparition seen on camera was his ghost.
The reality, of course, was considerably less colourful. It was a cardboard cut-out of Danson’s Jack from his days as a child actor.
This would have been explained properly in scenes which wound up not being kept in the final film.
Just to further dent the credibility of the apocryphal ghost story, the scene was actually shot in a studio set, not a real apartment.
5. The original script was more adult-oriented
Three Men and a Baby is, for the most part, a pretty innocent, family-friendly PG comedy drama.
It’s often forgotten that the film has an unexpectedly dark subplot, in which the men get inadvertently caught up with drug dealers.
With this in mind, it might not be too surprising that the script was originally more geared toward mature audiences.
The first draft of the script featured a lot more strong language, and placed more emphasis on the crime thriller aspect.
Jack’s drug dealer friend Paul Milner (John Gould Rubin) only appears briefly in the final film, but was originally a more prominent character.
In another key difference, Danson’s Jack was originally written as an airline pilot rather than an actor.
4. Legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch created the soundtrack
As well as the three male leads, the legendary Spock as director and Annie Leibovitz on film poster duty, Three Men and a Baby also boasted a very famous composer: Marvin Hamlisch.
In case you haven’t heard of him, Hamlisch is one of only fifteen people to win an Emmy Award, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award.
He’s also one of only two people to win a Pulitzer Prize on top of these other prestigious awards!
- Credit: Shel Secunda via Wikimedia Commons
Hamlisch’s most acclaimed film work included the score from The Sting, A Chorus Line and Shirley Valentine, amongst many others.
His work on Three Men and a Baby didn’t win him any more awards, but it certainly didn’t hurt his career at all.
Hamlisch passed away in August 2012 at the age of 68; his last work, the soundtrack for Behind the Candelabra, was released posthumously.
3. Follow-up film Three Men and a Little Lady didn’t prove as popular
As with any great success at the box office, film executives were instantly chomping at the bit to create a sequel to Three Men and a Baby.
As a result, Three Men and a Little Lady was released in 1990 and follows the adventures of the three guys and Mary several years later.
In the sequel, Mary is five years old and her mother Sylvia is looking to move to the UK.
Directed by Emile Ardolino (Dirty Dancing), Three Men and a Little Lady was met with lukewarm reviews and lower box office earnings.
Even so, the reputation of the series was enough for reports of a possible third instalment to surface in 2010.
However, the project, said to have been entitled Three Men and a Bride, never managed to get off the ground.
2. It was one of several ‘baby films’ made in the late 1980s
It often seems to be the case in Hollywood that several films based around a similar idea tend to emerge around the same time.
Take the ‘body swap’ boom of the late 80s, with films like Big, Vice Versa and Like Father Like Son arriving back to back.
In the case of Three Men and a Baby, it was just one among a slew of films which centred on child rearing.
Three Men and a Baby arrived in the wake of the Diane Keaton hit Baby Boom, then 1988 saw the release of Molly Ringwald baby movie For Keeps?
Other prominent baby pictures that followed included 1989’s She’s Having A Baby and Immediate Family.
Most famous of them all was Look Who’s Talking (featuring Bruce Willis as the voice of a baby), which spawned two sequels.
1. Zac Efron is set to star in a remake for Disney+
Much to the disappointment of Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson, plans for a third Three Men movie never came to fruition.
However, the franchise is poised to reach an all-new audience in the form of a TV movie reboot.
It was announced in August 2020 that Zac Efron has been cast in a new take on Three Men and a Baby for Disney’s streaming service Disney +.
Reports at the time did not mention who the other two male leads would be, nor has a director been announced.
Nothing more has been revealed about the project since, but it is still believed to be in the pipeline.