Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama movie based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. The movie was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Jon Voight alongside Dustin Hoffman. Smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Salt and Bernard Hughes. Take a look below for 28 more fun and fascinating facts about Midnight Cowboy.
1. Midnight Cowboy won 3 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
2. It was one of the first gay-related Best Picture winners.
3. It was the only X-rated movie ever to win Best Picture, though such a classification no longer exists.
4. Midnight Cowboy has been placed 36th on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time.
5. In 1994, the movie was deemed, “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant,” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
6. Dustin Hoffman put in so much effort portraying one of Ratso’s coughing fits that one time he actually ended up vomiting.
7. Dustin Hoffman kept pebbles in his shoes to ensure his limp would be consisted from shot to shot.
8. Bob Dylan wrote the song “Lay, Lady, Lay” for the movie, but didn’t complete it in time to be included in the soundtrack.
9. Midnight Cowboy contains the first recorded use of the word “scuzzy,” as a description of Ratso Rizzo. At its root, “scuzzy” is apparently a combination of “scummy” and “fuzzy.”
10. Dustin Hoffman’s performance as Ratso Rizzo is ranked number seven on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.
11. On the occasion of the movie’s 25th Anniversary in 1994, Dustin Hoffman revealed on Larry King Live that, when the movie was first previewed, the audience started to leave in droves during the movie theater gay encounter scene between Jon Voight and Bob Balaban.
12. Dustin Hoffman stated during a Larry King Live interview that Jon Voight, being from Yonkers, New York, originally didn’t get the part of Joe Buck because he was having trouble mastering the character’s Midland, Texas accent.
13. Michael Sarrazin was cast as Joe Buck but shortly before filming he pulled out over a wage dispute. Jon Voight was then brought in to replace him.
14. Warren Beatty was interested in playing Joe Buck, but John Schlesinger thought that he was too famous to be believable as a naive street hustler.
15. Mike Nichols tried to persuade Dustin Hoffman not to do Midnight Cowboy. He said, “Are you crazy? I made you a star. This is an ugly character. It’s a supporting part to Jon Voight. What are you doing? Why are you sabotaging?”
16. John Wayne was dismayed when this movie won the 1970 Best Picture Oscar. He told Playboy Magazine, “Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of these two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies as a perverse movie?”
17. Lee Majors was originally cast as Joe Buck, but had to pull out when The Big Walley was renewed for another season.
18. John Schlesinger once said that the inspiration for Midnight Cowboy came from a little-known Yugoslavian movie, When I Am Dead and Gone. An Andy Warhol film, My Hustler, also influenced the visual style.
19. Midnight Cowboy is M. Emmet Walsh’s and Bob Balaban’s film debut.
20. Jon Voight was paid “scale,” or the Screen Actors Guild minimum wage, for his portrayal of Joe Buck, a concession he willingly made to get the part.
21. Teenage girl fans of The Graduate would scream when they saw Dustin Hoffman filming in the streets of New York City, even though he was in his filthy costume as Rizzo.
22. Al Stetson, the Florida bus driver, was an electrician on the movie. He filled in at the last minute when the extra failed to show up.
23. The ending of Midnight Cowboy was parodied on Seinfeld season six, episode eight, “The Mom and Pop Store,” with Kramer in the role of Ratso, and Seinfeld playing Joe.
24. Dustin Hoffman was worried that the movie would ruin his career. Afterwards, his agent forced him to star with Mia Farrow in John and Mary to make him, “look like a respectable person.”
25. Dustin Hoffman spent a considerable amount of time in New York City slums observing tramps and street people and studying their physical movements and behavior.
26. Harrison Ford tested for the role of Joe Buck.
27. The movie’s line, “I’m walking here! I’m walking here!”, was voted as the number 27 more quote by the American Film Institute.
28. A long time aid to John Schlesinger reported that the director wanted to include an overt sex scene between Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, but was overruled.