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The working title of this film was A Life of Her Own. According to M-G-M publicity material, the novel on which this film was based first appeared serially in Hearst's International Cosmopolitan starting in September 1926. A Daily Variety news item dated August 2, 1951 reported that Ava Gardner had been cast in the starring role, and that Marguerite Roberts had written the script. The extent of Roberts' contribution to the final film has not been determined, however. A February 26, 1952 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that Howard Keel was campaigning for the role of the male lead in the film. Although Hollywood Reporter news items include June Whitley and Art Baker in the cast, Baker was not in the released film and the appearance of Whitley has not been confirmed. Elmer Peterson, who portrayed himself in the film, was a well-known television newscaster at the time.
The novel A Free Soul was also the basis of the 1931 M-G-M film of the same title, which was directed by Clarence Brown and starred Norma Shearer, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable and Leslie Howard (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). According to information in the file on The Girl Who Had Everything in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, M-G-M first expressed interest in remaking A Free Soul in 1945. However, the script submitted to the PCA in May 1946 was rejected because of the sexual relationship between "Jean" and "Ramondi" and the deliberate killing of "Ramondi" by "Vance" (as in the 1931 version). The PCA demanded numerous revisions and eliminations, and the project was shelved until February 1952, when a new draft was submitted and approved.