In My Girl, a precocious 11-year-old hypochondriac named Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) deals with growing up in Madison, Pennsylvania in 1972 with her father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd), the manager of the family funeral parlor. Most of the movie’s attention came from the very allergic Thomas J. Sennett—played by sudden movie star Macaulay Culkin—dying towards the end of the movie. Here are some facts about the film that you can recite when it gets too quiet.
1. SCREENWRITER LAURICE ELEHWANY WAS INSPIRED BY A CLASSMATE.
Needing to write a movie script to pass her AFI film school class, Elehwany remembered a girl she knew who lived in a funeral parlor, and her previous thoughts on what it must have felt like to come from to school to a bunch of dead bodies.
2. ANNA CHLUMSKY FOUND OUT SHE GOT THE PART WHILE WORKING AS A MOPPET IN A THEATER PRODUCTION OF ANNIE.
The then 10-year-old was a veteran of commercials, plays, and industrial films. She auditioned in Chicago, then with Culkin in Los Angeles before she was informed that she had landed the career-changing role.
3. CULKIN WAS PAID $1 MILLION DOLLARS.
4. CULKIN WAS ORIGINALLY IN EVEN FEWER SCENES.
Two or three more scenes were added because, according to director Howard Zieff, Culkin and Chlumsky had a “terrific synergy.”
5. CULKIN PULLED PRANKS ON CHLUMSKY.
He stuck double-sided sticky tape to the toilet seat, intending to inconvenience his and Chlumsky’s tutor, but managed to trick his co-star instead. When he wasn’t involved with toilet humor or work, Culkin played poker with the crew and listened to Vanilla Ice on his Walkman.
6. CULKIN AND CHLUMSKY WERE EACH OTHER’S FIRST ON-SCREEN KISSES.
7. THE WILLOW TREE WAS FAKE.
The crew found the pond they wanted, but not one near a willow tree. They put metal extensions and fake willow leaves and branches on an oak tree instead.
8. JAMIE LEE CURTIS LOST MONEY FROM CURSING TOO MUCH.
Curtis (Shelly DeVoto) told Chlumsky and Culkin she would give them $5 for saying “sh*t,” and $10 every time she said “f*ck” on set. She ended up handing over $200 to each of them by the end of filming.
9. CULKIN HAD POLLEN ON ALL OF HIS FINGERS SO THE BEES WOULD FOLLOW.
For the death scene, the bee wrangler shoveled bees towards him. The second he heard Zieff yell “cut,” Culkin would run to the water to wash off the pollen, before running out to the woods and wait before he was called back for another take.
10. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED BORN JAUNDICED.
Imagine Entertainment held an office-wide contest with a $500 prize to see if any employee could come up with the final title. Mourning Glory, Dearly Departed, In Lieu of Flowers, and Vada! were rejected in favor of producer Brian Grazer’s suggestion of My Girl.
11. IT WAS ORIGINALLY RATED PG-13.
Upon appeal, it was downgraded to PG.
12. THE STUDIO WASN’T PLANNING ON REVEALING CULKIN’S DEATH BEFORE THE MOVIE CAME OUT.
A gossip columnist saw an early screening of the film and revealed the fate of Thomas J. Sennett to her readers. Zieff was upset and claimed she broke a pact.
13. COLUMBIA PICTURES HIRED CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS TO TELL THE PUBLIC IT WAS OKAY TO BRING KIDS TO THE THEATER.
14. ELEHWANY WASN’T HAPPY WITH THE FINISHED PRODUCT.
When the daughter of Patricia Hermes, the author of the novelization of Elehwany’s script, asked Elehwany what she thought of the film, she said she felt important things were changed, adding, “I still get angry about it to this day.”
15. THE SULTENFUSS FUNERAL HOME BECAME A BED AND BREAKFAST.
Filmed in Bartow, Florida, My Girl made a funeral home out of a house built in 1906, originally the home of a lawyer named Thomas Lee Wilson, later sold to an antique and art collector named Freddie Guess. Guess claimed the crew was scared to shoot inside his house because there were so many antiques and paintings. In 1995 it became a B&B called the Stanford Inn. The inn closed in 2013.