Top 8 fun facts about Guys and Dolls

Updated on 30 April 2024

Guys and Dolls is a modern classic that explores the lives of two seemingly mismatched couples. Nathan Detroit, a smooth-talking gambler, is desperately trying to find a venue for his latest craps game. Whilst his fiancée of 14 years, the sassy Adelaide, wants nothing more than a white picket fence and a normal life. When Sky wagers Nathan that he can woo the missionary, Sarah Brown, to join him on a trip to Havana, the stage is set for an epic Cuban adventure. 

It’s 1950 in the city that never sleeps…will you roll the dice? Check out our top 8 fun facts about the Guys and Dolls the musical (and film)!

1. It’s based on a Damon Runyon Story 

Guys and Dolls draws its inspiration from the vibrant short stories penned by Depression-era New York newspaperman Damon Runyon. Damon was a big deal during his time, a prolific American writer celebrated for his vivid characters and distinctive language. The creative duo of Frank Loesser (responsible for the music and lyrics) and Abe Burrows (responsible for the book) found their muse in Runyon's unique universe, one that was populated by gamblers, hustlers, and the dwellers of the nightlife scene - all born from the seediness of the Prohibition era.

In his short but sweet story The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown, Damon tells of the unlikely, but in the end successful, romance between a habitual gambler named Sky Masterson and a missionary girl named Miss Sarah Brown, a story that would later go on to serve as the inspiration for the musical we know as Guys and Dolls!

2. The roles were tailored to the actors

The role of Nathan Detroit was specifically crafted for Sam Levene, who admittedly, was not a singer but a seasoned Broadway and movie actor. Levene's lack of singing ability influenced the character and the choice of songs, including the famous duet ‘Sue Me’. Frank Loesser wrote ‘Sue Me’ with Sam Levene's singing abilities in mind, incorporating a unique Yiddish flavour into the character. 

3. It’s been going on for a long, long time 

Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway in 1950 and ran for 1,200 performances. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical that year. It’s since had well over ten revivals from around the world, each with a diverse multi-talented cast.

4. Frank Sinatra starred in the film, and it was his debut…

In the smash-hit 1955 film adaptation of Guys and Dolls, the swingin' and swoonin' Frank Sinatra took on the role of powerful gambler Nathan Detroit. This was his first major film role, and the gamble paid off, he received critical acclaim for his performance!

5. …which caused a lot of friction with Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando, primarily recognised for his dramatic acting, portrayed Sky Masterson in the film. Brando secured the role of Sky Masterson, which had been highly desired by Sinatra. Their working relationship during the production was marked by tension. In later years, Brando commented that Sinatra was the kind of person who would complain to God about his baldness, while Sinatra nicknamed Brando 'mumbles’. Yikes!

6. It’s had a huge influence on popular culture 

The music and songs from Guys and Dolls have been covered and adapted by numerous artists over the years, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand

In 2000, The 1955 film adaptation of Guys and Dolls was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The inclusion within the library recognises its cultural and historical significance.

In 1998, Vivian Blaine, Sam Levene, Robert Alda, and Isabel Bigley, along with the original Broadway cast of the 1950 Decca cast album, were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame…what a list of accolades!

7. Several of the songs didn’t make it, sort of

There are a number of songs from the Broadway soundtrack that had to be omitted, but they were so good, that the producers deicded to use them as background music in the film! These include 'A Bushes and a Peck', 'My Time of Day' and 'I've Never Been in Love Before'. 

8. Oh, and the songs are bangers

Some of the most popular songs for fans of Guys and Dolls include 'Luck Be a Lady', 'Guys and Dolls' and 'Adelaide's Lament'. 'Luck Be a Lady' in particular gained widespread popularity and recognition, it has since been covered by Barbara Streisand and has even made appearances in shows such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and can even be heard in the family favourite movie Mrs. Doubtfire!

Guys and Dolls tickets are available now! 

This sensational musical at the Bridge Theatre takes us on a whirlwind journey through the streets of Times Square, the smoky cafes of Havana, and beyond. You don’t want to miss it! 

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By Kevin Thomas

From as early as I can recall, writing has always been my passion. Being able to combine this with my love for theatre has been a rewarding and exhilarating experience. I truly believe that there is magic in seeing a story brought to life on stage, and this is what I would like to promote to audiences.