Here are 10 trivia facts about Caddyshack from 1980, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.
1. This movie revolves around a particular occupation.
The movie title gives it away. Michael O’Keefe is a caddy at stuffy Bushwood Country Club, trying his best to get a college scholarship. It was O’Keefe whom director Harold Ramis felt was consistently the most convincing golfer of all the cast members, which included Ted Knight, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. The basic storyline of the film is about O’Keefe’s position as a caddy, which eventually gives way to him transforming into a player in a high-stakes finale involving Dangerfield in some of the funniest scenes in movie history, exposing Rodney’s acting talents to millions who only knew him as a standup comic.
2. The film was the directorial debut for this noted actor, writer and producer.
For the folks who only know Harold Ramis from seeing him in Stripes and Ghostbusters, he’s also an accomplished writer and director. He has scripted many successful movies and screenplays: Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Back To School, Club Paradise, and the list goes on and on…and has also proved his mettle at directing with the hit films National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, Analyze This and his very first directorial feature, Caddyshack.
3. One of the actors is best known for his role in a TV series.
Actually many of the actors in this movie have been associated with a TV show, but Ted Knight is best remembered as Ted Baxter from more than 150 episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the inept, yet conceited newscaster at WJM.
Knight, being a straight-laced kind of guy, had a hard time with the onslaught of tomfoolery constantly displayed by his co-stars. Ramis’ general tone of “make it up as you go along” was foreign to Ted, who was pretty much fed up with it all by the time the film wrapped. Caddyshack was Knight’s final movie appearance.
4. Two of the stars were enemies off the set.
Harold Ramis was desperate to get in some good scenes with Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, once he found out his two biggest stars barely spoke to each other — something that went back to their days on Saturday Night Live five years earlier. Although it doesn’t have much to do with the movie, the scene at Carl’s shabby house with Ty and Carl (Chevy and Bill) is just about totally off-the-cuff. Both actors were very professional and didn’t let their past feud get in the way of what is generally agreed to be among the movie’s funniest moments. It’s also their only scene together.
5. A popular candy bar plays a part in the film.
At one time, Baby Ruth candy bars were advertised as being “the real deal” but fans of Caddyshack always think of that great nutty nougat drenched in delicious chocolate in a different vein. One of the film’s most outrageous scenes, in which a Baby Ruth bar is tossed into the pool and causes a panic (for reasons we won’t go into here), is even funnier thanks to Murray’s line as he eats it after draining the pool, “It’s no big deal!” Shakespeare it’s not — but funny it is!
Cindy Morgan’s topless scenes almost didn’t happen. She didn’t intend to reveal anything more than could be seen in the black swimsuit in which she parades up to the high dive, but the story goes that producer and head honcho Jon Peters had a conversation with her which apparently was convincing enough for Morgan. Did Peters tell her she’d never work in Hollywood again if she didn’t bare all?
Because she was uncomfortable in her bedroom scene with Michael O’Keefe, Ramis was willing to compromise and not insist on her being topless. But O’Keefe had an idea that the tension would disappear if everyone involved, cast and crew, took off their shirts as well. It must have worked, because that scene is smooth as silk.
7. One of the stars is a Grammy Award winner.
Although Rodney Dangerfield was seen by more people on the big screen, the same year Caddyshack hit theaters, he won a Grammy Award for his comedy album, “No Respect.” And in 2004, a three-DVD collection and Nirvana for Rodney fans, Rodney Dangerfield: No Respect: The Ultimate Collection, was released, containing loads of filmed shows and specials that the funnyman himself assembled. Dangerfield is known for so many great jokes — some general, some off-color — and this remains one of his funniest: “Today’s been a terrible day. I got up this morning, picked up my shirt and a button fell off. I picked up my briefcase and the handle fell off. I’m afraid to go to the bathroom!”
8. Many of the scenes were improvised.
In addition to the scene in Carl’s dilapidated house, it only took a few words from director Ramis to set the tone for the “Cinderella story” sequence and Murray took it away, doing it fully from his own improvisation. Basically, Bill’s “motivation” from Ramis was that he should just make believe he’s a kid and broadcast an imaginary golf triumph. All Murray asked for were a few rows of flowers and he took it from there. “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac… It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”
Also, Cindy Morgan reported that the massage scene where golf pro Ty (Chevy Chase) spills oil all over her Lacy Underall was completely impromptu. Viewers can see Morgan is genuinely surprised when she says, “You’re crazy!”
9. One of the characters is not human.
Caddyshack was just about finished shooting when the “Mr. Gopher” segments were written and completed. It was originally planned to use a live gopher, but when it was determined that was going to be impossible, visual effects expert John Dykstra built an animatronic rodent and the tunnels to go with it.
If the gopher sound effects seem familiar, they are the same sounds heard in Flipper (1964), which were actually uttered by a dolphin, not a gopher.
10. This movie is considered one of the best sports movies ever made.
Caddyshack is a giant favorite among golfers and fans of the sport, which is probably why golf great Tiger Woods agreed to do his American Express commercial in 2007. Woods emulates Bill Murray and viewers witness the obvious allusions to some of the movie’s better known scenes… especially when Tiger lets out, “Gophers! I hate gophers!”
It should also come as no surprise that in 2008, Caddyshack was ranked as #7 on AFI’s list of 10 Greatest Sports Films. Personally, I think that’s a stretch…but who can argue with the success of the American Film Institute?
More trivia: One of Caddyshack’s writers and co-stars, Brian Doyle-Murray, is actually one of Bill Murray’s real-life brothers. Doyle-Murray provided the movie’s inspiration with his recollections of his stint as caddy at a swanky golf club. As teenagers, both Bill Murray and Harold Ramis were also caddies. Brian, who is five years older than Bill, has appeared in many movies with his more visible sibling, including Scrooged, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters II and more, and has worked with fellow cast members Roger Dangerfield, Chevy Chase and Harold Ramis numerous times as well.
Now, let’s reminisce with these fun scenes from the 1980 theatrical trailer for Caddyshack: