Who could forget the iconic four-story townhouse that Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly lived in on the Upper East Side? Now the real thing, where the exterior shots and some of the interior scenes were filmed for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is on the market for $5.85 million. (I’ll bet Holly paid a lot less than that to stay there in 1961!)
I thought it would be fun to compare how the building looked in the movie to how it looks now. It has changed so much in the past 50 years that I’m not sure I would have recognized it.
In the movie, which was based on a short novel by Truman Capote, the building sported green and white-striped awnings that must have blocked out most of the light coming into the rooms:
The front door was green, too:
Audrey Hepburn was not who Truman Capote had in mind for Holly. He pictured Marilyn Monroe in the role, but she turned it down. Kim Novac was reportedly offered the part, as well.
Hepburn was an unlikely actress to play the 19-year old country girl from Texas whose real name was Lulamae Barnes. For one thing, Hepburn was in her 30s; for another, her accent was anything but Texan. In the novella, a character says, “When she opens her mouth…you don’t know if she’s a hillbilly or an Okie or what.”
Hepburn herself felt she was miscast and said she was uncomfortable with the role. She essentially created a new–and memorable–version of Holly for the movie.
According to an article in the New York Times about the brownstone, most of the interiors were shot on a soundstage. However, the previous owners reported that it was used for some scenes, “with cameras perched outside so they could shoot into the rooms.” It’s believed that the party Holly hosted in a bed sheet, for example, was held in the real living room.
George Peppard played Holly’s upstairs neighbor Paul Varjak, a struggling writer who is “kept” by a wealthy woman.
I always want a better look at this screen in Holly’s bathroom:
She’s so thin in this movie that it’s hard to believe she gave birth to her son Sean only 3 months before filming began.
Paul’s apartment has been furnished by his “decorator,” a woman who goes by the name 2-E (they don’t explain it in the movie but it’s because her name is Emily Eustace).
In the novella, Holly and her neighbor were never lovers, she never finds the cat again after throwing it out of the cab, and she moves to Brazil in search of a rich husband. In the movie, she changes her mind and stays with Paul–and the cat, which they find in an alley.
Mr. Yunioshi was played by Mickey Rooney, pretending to be Japanese (different times, I know, but I cringe through those scenes). He lives in an apartment on the top floor:
Here’s how the townhouse looks today in the real estate listing:
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