Terms of Endearment is a 1983 American comedy-drama movie adapted from Larry McMurtry’s 1975 novel, directed, written and produced by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. Take a look below for 27 more fun and interesting facts about Terms of Endearment.
1. The movie received 11 Academy Award nominations and won 5. James L. Brooks won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium while Shirley MacLaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Jack Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
2. The movie won 4 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress in Drama, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.
3. James L. Brooks received a special gift at the end of production, to congratulate him for completing his first movie. This was a book of “Life in Hell” cartoons, drawn by Matt Groening. Brooks was so impressed with the comics that he asked Groening to create cartoon shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show. This gave rise to The Simpsons.
4. James L. Brooks settled on Shirley MacLaine to play Aurora because, “she was the only one who saw it as a comedy.”
5. Debra Winger behaved erratically on the set of the movie because she was trying to get over a severe cocaine addiction. At one point, she and Shirley MacLaine got into a shoving match.
6. Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger were both nominated for 1983’s Best Actress Oscar, which went to MacLaine. On her way to the podium, she reportedly whispered to Winger, “Half of this belongs to you,” to which Winger reportedly replied, “I’ll take half.”
7. John Lithgow was called in to replace another actor, and his part was filmed in only three days during a break from filming for Footloose.
8. While shooting the movie in Nebraska, Debra Winger began dating Governor Bob Kerrey, who told reporters, “She swept me off my foot,” alluding to the fact that the lower part of one of his legs was amputated due to injuries sustained in his Medal of Honor action in Vietnam.
9. The role of Emma was originally written for Sissy Spacek.
10. Shirley MacLaine said Jack Nicholson would do crazy things on the set like show up practically naked, and that a lot of their scenes were improvised.
11. Real life mother and daughter duo, Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, were considered for the roles of Aurora Greenway and Emma Horton respectively.
12. Shirley MacLaine turned down the role of Dr. Lesh, played by Beatrice Straight, to play the Oscar-winning role of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment.
13. Jodie Foster turned down the role of Emma Horton, due to her commitment at Yale.
14. The MPAA originally gave the movie an R rating due to strong language. It was reduced to PG on an appeal, an achievement often repeated by James L. Brooks on his later movies.
15. The Kearney State College scenes were shot at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, due to major construction taking place at the Kearney campus, which is now known as the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
16. In interviews, Shirley MacLaine said James L. Brooks played weird head games with the cast, and liked to keep everyone terrorized, on edge, and in a state of chaos. She said it got so bad, that she drove to the airport while the movie was in production to quit at one point.
17. The role of Patsy was originally offered to Kim Basinger, who turned it down to appear in The Man Who Loved Women.
18. Jeff Daniels and Jack Nicholson appeared in Heartburn.
19. Louise Fletcher was considered for the role of Aurora.
20. In the novel, Flap and Patsy have an affair.
21. Terms of Endearment is James L. Brooks’ directorial film debut.
22. James Garner turned down the role of Garrett Breedlove, and Sissy Spacek turned down the role of Emma. A year later, they would star in Streets of Laredo, which was also written by Larry McMurtry.
23. Terms of Endearment is Jack Nicholson and James L. Brooks’ first movie together.
24. The character Garret Breedlove didn’t exist in the novel. The character was meant to be a foil and love interest for Aurora, and was first designed for Burt Reynolds, and then custom made for Jack Nicholson.
25. Terms of Endearment is included among the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
26. When a hospital scene had to be reshot, a hotel room at the Holiday Inn on Cornhusker Highway in Lincoln, Nebraska was quickly modified to look like a hospital room. To enable the filming of another shot, a new stairway was installed on the north side of the Holiday Inn’s “Holidome.”
27. Terms of Endearment is the only movie directed by James L. Brooks to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.