Tuesday, December 15, 2009

70 Years Ago, Gone With The Wind

On December 15, 1939, following three days of festivites, in Atlanta, Georgia, Gone With The Wind premiered at Loew's Grand Theater.


Ann Rutherford, who played Carreen O'Hara, was the first to arrive in Atlanta on December 13, 1939.

On December 14, 1939, was the "Gone With The Wind" Ball, hosted by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The ball was serenaded by the Ebenezer Baptrist Church Choir, an all African American boys choir directed by Martin Luther King Sr., and included a six year old Martin Luther King Jr. among its members.

December 15, 1939, was declared a State holiday by the Governor of Georgia.

Ticket prices for the premiere were 40 times the usual going rate.

Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), and the other African American actors in the film were unable to attend the premiere in the racially segregrated Atlanta.

Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes) did not attend the premiere.


The only four actors David Selznick ever seriously considered for the role Rhett Butler were Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn and Ronald Colman.

Gary Cooper turned down the role of Rhett Butler and is quoted as saying "Gone With the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history and I am just glad it will be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."

1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part of Scarlett O'Hara. Only 400 were asked to do readings.

Among the many famous actress considered for the part of Scarlett were Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, Katharine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Carole Lombard, Norma Shearer, Barbara Stanwyck and Margaret Sullavan.

Judy Garland was the leading contender for the role of Scarlett's sister Carreen before her "Andy Hardy" series co-star Ann Rutherford was cast.

Priscilla Lane was considered for the role of Melanie Wilkes.

Louise Beavers, Etta McDaniel, Ruby Dandridge, and Hattie Noel were considered for the role of Mammy before Hattie McDaniel was casted.

Vincent Price and Melvyn Douglas tested for the part of Ashley Wilkes.


First color film to receive the Best Picture Academy Award.

At nearly four hours long, this is longest running of all movies to win the Best Picture Academy Award.

Nominated for 13 Academy Awards, the most nominations for any movie, a record it held for 20 years.

Sidney Howard's Academy Award for Best Screen Writing was the Academy's first posthumous award. Howard died in an accident in August 1939 while the Civil War epic was still being filmed.

Won 8 Academy Awards:

Best Actress in a Leading Role, Vivian Leigh

Best Supporting Actress, Hattie McDaniel

Best Art Direction, Lyle R. Wheeler

Best Cinematography, Color, Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan

Best Director, Victor Fleming

Best Film Editing, Hal Kern and James Newcom

Best Picture

Best Writing, Screenplay. Sidney Howard

Nominations for Academy Award:

Best Actor, Clark Gable

Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Olivia de Havilland

Best Effects, Special Effects, Jack Cosgrove, Fred Albin and Arthur Johns

Best Music, Original Score, Max Steiner

Best Sound Recording, Thomas Moulton


1) First African American to be nominated for an Academy Award

2) First African American to win an Academy Award, won Best Supporting Actress

3) First African American to attend the Academy Award's ceremony


The movie's line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." was voted as the #1 movie quote by the American Film Institute.

There are more than 50 speaking roles and 2,400 extras in the film.

All four principal characters (Ashley, Melanie, Rhett, and Scarlett) appear together in the same scene only once, after the raid on Shantytown, when Rhett tells the anxious group of the fate of Scarlett's second husband, Frank Kennedy.

The first scene to be shot was the burning of the Atlanta Depot, filmed on 10 December 1938

The horse that Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara) rode was later Silver of "The Lone Ranger" (1949) fame.

The first line of the movie is spoken by Fred Crane (Brent Tarleton).


Ann Rutherford (Carreen O'Hara)

Mickey Kuhn (Beau Wilkes)

Mary Anderson (Maybelle Merriwether)

Cammie King (Bonnie)

Patrick Curtis (“Baby Beau Wilkes”)

Greg Giese (Baby Bonnie and Baby Beau)

Olivia de Havilland (Melanie)

Alicia Rhett (India Wilkes)

Back Left: Mickey Kuhn
Back Right: Patrick Curtis
Front Left: Ann Rutherford
Front Right: Cammie King
May 2009

Ann Rutherford and Cammie King

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