Johnny Casar (Mickey Rooney
) runs away from Father O'Hara's orphanage and becomes a roller skating star with the help of Mary Reeves (Beverly Tyler). He becomes involved with women, including Polly (Marilyn Monroe
), who only loves him because he is a champion, not, as Mary, out of love for him. Then he develops polio altering the course of his life.
The film's working titles were Dark Challenge and The Challenge.
The Fireball was a Mickey Rooney vehicle based on a true story designed to cash in on the Roller Derby craze sweeping America during this time.
The extent of the polio was seriously downplayed.
Marilyn Monroe co-stars as a derby groupie who's attracted to Rooney.
Fireball was the first film made by Thor Productions, Inc., which was owned by Bert Friedlob and Tay Garnett.
According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, a building in Balboa Park, San Diego may have been used for the skating sequences through mid-December 1949. Other interior sequences were shot at Motion Picture Center Studios in January 1950.
Glenn Corbett made his motion picture debut in the film.
Marilyn wanted her hair to look a certain way, in order to achieve the desired look she needed a wig, which the studio was not willing to pay for - but Marilyn, being Marilyn, sweet talked someone with authority into getting her the wig anyway!
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