Chief Gillespie: Virgil, that's a funny name for a nigger boy that comes from Philadelphia. What do they call you up there?
Virgil Tibbs: They call me MISTER Tibbs!
Norman Jewison asked Rod Steiger to chew gum when playing the role of Gillespie. Steiger resisted at first but then grew to love the idea, and went through 263 packs of gum during the shooting of the film.