According to 派特·康洛伊, Lieutenant Colonel "Bull" Meecham is based entirely on his own father, Donald Conroy, a Marine fighter pilot who referred to himself in the third person as "The Great Santini". Donald Conroy took the nickname from a magician he'd seen as a child. Pat and Donald Conroy were on the set on the day that 罗伯特·杜瓦尔 and 迈克尔·奥吉弗 filmed the scene where Bull Meecham bullies and taunts Ben after losing to him in a basketball game. A woman on the set asked Donald Conroy if he and Pat had really played games like that. Donald Conroy replied, "Every day, madam. Every single day." However, the book and movie gave Donald Conroy an opportunity to mend fences with his children, especially Pat. After the novel was published, Donald Conroy would often accompany his son to book signings, and would sign his son's novels with the signature, "Donald Conroy - The Great Santini".
On the morning of the Academy Award nominations in 1981, when the movie got nods for Best Actor and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, author 派特·康洛伊 received a phone call from his father, who told him, "You and me got nominated for Academy Awards, your mother didn't get squat."
The movie was originally released directly to cable and airlines, under the title "The Ace". When the New York Times reviewed it very favorably, it was pulled from cable and released to theaters under the title "The Great Santini".
In 2013, 派特·康洛伊 added a sequel to the family story he told in the "Santini" book and movie with his new memoir, "The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son". In it he describes how his mother Peg, dying of leukemia, asked to be portrayed by 梅丽尔·斯特里普 in any future movie.
During the basketball game, Pat Conroy's mother Peg, the woman with the short blonde hair, is seated directly behind Blythe Danner. Pat's brother, Tom, who committed suicide at the age of thirty-three, is #32 on the team, the player wearing glasses.
The cemetery where "Bull" Meecham is buried at the end of the film, is Beaufort National Cemetery in Beaufort, South Carolina. When Donald Conroy, the inspiration for "Bull" Meecham, died in 1998, he was also laid to rest in Beaufort National Cemetery. (His tombstone reads, "Donald Conroy - The Great Santini") A few months before his death, Donald Conroy visited the cemetery with his son, Pat, to check the burial plot he had purchased for himself. He told the cemetery officials, "This is the second time I'll be buried here."