The show's original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on December 21 1945 and ran for 220 performances. Billion Dollar Baby was not well-received, although Robbins' choreography—which included two dream ballets, a Charleston, and a gangster's funeral procession--was widely praised. (Decades later, Robbins incorporated the Charleston number into Jerome Robbins' Broadway.) The production starred Joan McCracken as Maribelle, Mitzi Green, William Tabbert, and David Burns; early in the run, McCracken was replaced by Virginia Gorski (later Virginia Gibson). James Mitchell was Tabbert's dance double. Other dancers in the cast included Danny Daniels, Helen Gallagher, and Arthur Partington.
There is no original cast recording, although there is a recording of the 1998 York Theatre Company Mufti Series concert version with Kristin Chenoweth, Debbie Gravitte, Marc Kudisch, Michael McCormick, and Richard B. Shull.
The show gained notoriety for an event that happened in rehearsals: Robbins, walking backwards as he ranted at the dancers, failed to realize how close he was to the orchestra pit—and fell into it.