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10 Facts You May Not Know About the Hit 1980s Comedy ‘Three Men and a Baby’

Find out who almost had the roles and if there will be a third movie!

With three recognizable stars and a chuckle-worthy premise of New York bachelor roommates being forced to care for an infant, Three Men and a Baby landed in theaters over Thanksgiving weekend in 1987 and audiences ate it up like it was pecan pie.

Tom Selleck, 42 at the time, played architect Peter Mitchell, Ted Danson, then 39, was B movie actor Jack Holden and Steve Guttenberg, then 29, played cartoonist Michael Kellam.

It no doubt helped that all three actors were already household names from Magnum, P.I., Cheers and the Police Academy film franchise, respectively. But the story itself was fresh for the time.

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Man holding a baby in the kitchen
Ted Danson in “Three Men and a Baby” (1987)

In the film, Peter and Michael are in New York while Jack is off shooting a movie in Turkey. Jack alerts his roommates that a delivery will be made to the house — a favor he’s doing for a director friend — that they should keep secret, per his friend’s wishes.

Not long after, the guys find a baby on their doorstep and believe that’s the package. But in reality, the baby, Mary, is Jack’s daughter, the result of a fling he had with an actress names Sylvia (Nancy Travis), who’s overwhelmed by single motherhood.

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The real package that is delivered contains heroine. With drug dealers, a suspicious cop and the men trying to figure out how to care for the baby, confusion and hilarity ensues. And though the New York Times review scoffed that “this story is about four babies, not just one,” critic Janet Maslin also conceded that “the film bubbles along in a funny if predictable way.”

The success of the movie prompted a sequel, 1990’s Three Men and a Little Lady, and both movies hit home for Danson, a father of two. “It’s hard,” he told E! News of being a dad. “The thing I’m discovering the most is you need time, you need quantity.… It really is about being there.”

Comparing his own life to his character’s, he continued, “One of the problems about being a guy in your forties and wanting to be out in the world, it’s very easy to get tempted away from what’s real.”

Danson, now 76, Selleck, 77, and Guttenberg, 65, have all continued to work steadily since Three Men and a Baby, with Selleck wrapping the last season of CBS’ Blue Bloods this year, Danson guest starring in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Guttenberg appearing in various TV series, including The Goldbergs and an upcoming series about cryptocurrency, Paper Empire.

three men and a baby
Steve Guttenberg, Tom Selleck and Ted Danson in “Three Men and a Baby” (1987)

Despite rumors of a reunion (see below), the original stars have not yet gotten back together for a new film. But fans of the original know that their chemistry helped carry the movie. “That was real,” Selleck told ABC News. “We just hit it off, we had a great time.”

Now, 37 years after the original film, here are a few things you may not have known about Three Men and a Baby:

1. Leonard Nimoy directed the movie

mr. spock in "star trek"
Leonard Nimoy in “Star Trek” (1966)Bettmann / Contributor

You’re first reaction to learning that Star Trek’s original pointy-eared Vulcan Mr. Spock, who rarely cracked a smile, directed the hit comedy may be: “That’s not logical!”  But it’s true. Nimoy had previously directed two of the long-running Star Trek franchise’s movies, 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

I think it was a charming idea,” Nimoy said at the time of taking on Three Men. “These three guys inheriting an infant that they have to take care of, I was drawn to it.” The one thing that worried him wasn’t the comedy, however, it was the babies! “I was frightened of it. I had no idea how successful we were going to be getting the babies to do the stuff that the film called for: laughing when they’re supposed to be laughing, giggling, babbling.” Fortunately, the babies hit their cues.

2. Baby Mary was played by two babies

Three men and two babies
Steve Guttenberg, Tom Selleck and Ted Danson in “Three Men and a Baby” (1987)

Lisa Blair and Michelle Blair are identical twins who played the part of the infant Mary in the movie when they were four months old. Michelle, who didn’t act again, told the Today show in 2014, “When we were little, it wasn’t a big deal to us at all. I think it was when we became teenagers and people started coming up to us a lot more.” The only other credit Lisa Blair has is for a 1999 movie called Morella, a thriller about a mysterious fire at genetics lab.

3. Three Men and a Baby raked in the dough!

fatal attraction
Glenn Close and Michael Douglas in “Fatal Attraction” (1987)

As far as total box office receipts, Three Men was the highest-grossing film of 1987, earning $167 million at the U.S. box office, topping even Beverly Hills Cop II with Eddie Murphy, Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, and The Untouchables! With its foreign box office earnings, the film made $240 million!

4. The year Three Men and a Baby came out was a great year for movies

Man and woman holding hands
Robin Wright and Cary Elwes in “The Princess Bride” (1987)

In addition to the hits mentioned above, 1987 also saw the release of The Princess Bride, Dirty Dancing, Overboard, RoboCop, Lethal Weapon, Moonstruck, Wall Street and so many more hit films!

5. The movie was based on an Oscar-nominated 1985 French film

Like the American version, Three Men and a Cradle also follows three men who are left with a baby delivered by one of their girlfriends, and it involves angry gangsters, various cops and a heroin subplot. The original premise proved so popular, it has been remade into seven movies in six different languages!

6. A third film has been trying to get off the ground for decades

In 2010 a movie titled Three Men and a Bride was in development with the original stars, Selleck, Danson and Guttenberg, but nothing has come of it, much to the chagrin of the actors.

I think Three Men and a Bride would be such a hit movie,” Guttenberg told ET in 2022, adding that all three stars wanted to do it. “If they can do a good story and a good script, not just a comic book sequel, I’m there,” Selleck said.

Fortunately for fans, Zac Efron (The Greatest Beer Run Ever) has been signed to star in a remake for Disney+. But unfortunately, for now, no further news has been released about the in-development project.

7. Tom Selleck and Ted Danson got their roles in Three Men and a Baby while both were starring on hit TV shows

Two men smiling; three men and a baby
Ted Danson in “Cheers” (1982) // Tom Selleck in “Magnum, P.I.” (1980) Productions // Productions

Selleck, of course, was in the title role on Magnum, P.I., and Danson was still staring as bartender Sam Malone on Cheers. “We got recognized from doing some work in television and we got pictures from it,” Selleck told Entertainment Tonight. “It’s been great!”

8. The film sparked an urban legend

man and woman and baby ; three men and a baby
Ted Danson and Celeste Holm in “Three Men and a Baby” (1987)

In one scene in which Danson’s Jack is with his mother (Celeste Holm) and baby Mary, a figure can be seen in the house seemingly peeking through a curtain at them. For years, a theory circulated that the figure was the ghost of a boy who’d shot himself in the house years earlier.

But Selleck finally quashed the rumors when he told Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon that the scene had been shot on a studio soundstage and the figure of the boy was actually a cardboard cutout of Danson in a tuxedo and top hat!

9. The film could have starred Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Michael J. Fox!

two men; three men and a baby
John Travolta // Chevy Chase (1987)MediaPunch / Contributor / Getty // Vinnie Zuffante / Stringer / Getty

According to, many different actors were considered for the parts of Peter (Selleck), Michael (Guttenberg) and Jack (Danson). Among them, Chevy Chase, Robert DeNiro, Bill Murray, Michael Keaton, John Travolta, Christopher Reeve, and many others.

10. Three Men and a Baby paved the way for more family comedies

Man dressed as woman vacuuming
Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993)

The movie helped to reshape Americans’ view of male caregivers, so it’s not surprising that Hollywood began green lighting other family-friendly comedies featuring men taking care of kids. Look Who’s Talking followed in 1989, starring Kirstie Alley as a single mom and John Travolta as the taxi driver who befriends her and winds up babysitting for her son, and 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire starred Robin Williams as a father masquerading as a British nanny in order to see his kids.

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