gone with the wind premiere

1. Tickets for the premiere went on sale at Loews Grand Theater on November 18, 1939.

2. The premiere festivities lasted from December 13-15, 1939.

3. Ann Rutherford (Careen O’Hara) was the first star to arrive, on December 13. She was given the key to the city.

4. One of Ann’s first stops was at the Atlanta Journal newspaper offices, where she requested to see where Margaret Mitchell worked. She had her picture taken at the typewriter Ms. Mitchell used.

5. Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara) arrived on December 13, accompanied by Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Wilkes), Mr. and Mrs. Selznick and Laurence Olivier.

6. Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O’Hara) and Ona Munson (Belle Watling) also arrived on December 13.

clark gable carole lombard gone with the wind

7. Arriving on December 14 were Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat), Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

8. The American Airlines airplane that brought Clark and Carole to Atlanta was painted “MGM Gone with the Wind Special Flight to Atlanta Premiere.”

9. Director Victor Fleming was not happy about having to attend the premiere. He backed out when his dear friend Douglas Fairbanks Sr. died on December 12. The funeral was held at Forest Lawn at the same time as the premiere; Fleming was a pallbearer.

10. 300,000 people crowded Peachtree Street in Atlanta to get a glimpse of the stars in the motorcade.

11. Speaking in front of the Georgian Terrace Hotel: David O. Selznick, Evelyn Keyes, Kay Kyser, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Vivien Leigh.

12. The stars were gifted with Wedgewood Ware tea and coffee sets, painted with highlights of Atlanta’s 100 year history.

13. A press party was held on December 14 at the Georgian Terrace Hotel.

14. The cast stayed at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, with the exception of Vivien Leigh who stayed at a private residence, along with Laurence Olivier.

15. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stayed in the royal suite, rooms 918-19-20.

16. The Atlanta Junior League Ball was attended by the cast on the evening of December 14,

17. The next day the Atlanta newspaper printed a detailed account of nearly every ballgown that each woman wore to the ball.

18 .On December 15 the stars attended a showing of the Battle of Atlanta at the Cyclorama.

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19. A press party was held at the Piedmont Driving Club after the Cyclorama event, where the stars mingled with Margaret Mitchell.

20. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard met up with his uncle Charlie Gable, who owned a movie theater in Florida and came up to Atlanta for the chance to see his nephew.

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21. Original costumes from the film were shipped to Atlanta and were on display in department stores during the premiere festivities. Among them: Scarlett’s wedding gown, Rhett’s Twelve Oaks barbecue suit and Scarlett’s curtain dress.

22. The movie began at 8:15pm.

23. The cost of a ticket to the premiere was $10.

24. Since Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were both married to others, his attendance at the premiere was explained as he was there “on his own business” and escorted Olivia de Havilland to the ball and the film.

25. Carole Lombard’s premiere gown was lavender satin, with a matching coat and organza hood.

26. Loews Grand Theater could seat 2,031 people.

27. Among the celebrities attending who were not in the film: Claudette Colbert, Ginny Sims, Kay Kyser and golfer Bobby Jones.

28. Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes) did not attend the premiere, as he had returned to his native England to aid in the war effort.

clark gable gone with the wind

29. Arrangements had been made to sneak Clark and Carole in and out of the various premiere events, but Clark refused those arrangements, saying ” Listen, I came here. They begged me to come. The people want to see me. I don’t want to go ducking in back doors.”

30. Hattie McDaniel did not attend the premiere, as Georgia was segregated in 1939 and she would not have been permitted to stay in the same hotel or sit in the same theater as the white stars.

31. As Clark and Carole rode down Peachtree Street in the motorcade, women threw their gloves, hats, and yes, even their underwear at him.

32. Clark would only attend the premiere if he could fly separately from David Selznick.

33. The premiere program was 18 pages and featured essays from the film’s stars.

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34. Pictures from the premiere all show Vivien Leigh in her fur coat, so her dress is not seen. Her gown was gold lame’, quilted in a rose pattern and featured gold sequins. It was designed by Walter Plunkett, the costume designer of GWTW.

35. Thirty young ladies from Weslyan College were selected to be hostesses at Loews, all dressed in antebellum costumes.

36. Several surviving Confederate veterans attended, all in their nineties.

37. In the foyer of the theater, a sign read” Gone with the Wind: Never in a Lifetime Have Eyes Beheld Its Equal.”

38. The back of the sign read: “Gone with the Wind Will Not Be Shown Anywhere Except at Advanced Prices–At Least Until 1941. Buy Reserved Seats Now”

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39. Five 800-million candlepower searchlights were used for the premiere, borrowed from the 214th Coast Artillery’s anti-aircraft unit. These, in addition to MGM searchlights and the hundreds of flashbulbs flashing, made the night sky light up like day.

40. A 13 year old boy named Nathan Teplies broke through the barricades to meet Clark and Carole. The police tried to push him away but the Gables smiled and insisted on shaking the boy’s hand.

41. Among the promotion items available at Atlanta department stores during the premiere festivities: A motion picture edition of the book, a 2-volume edition of the book, luggage tags, compacts, handkerchiefs, nail polish, perfume, jewelry, stationary, dolls, candies, scarves, dresses, sports coats, hosiery, slips,  window treatments, toothpaste, cookbooks,  and games.

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42.Six thousand people attended a jamboree featuring Kay Kyser on the night of the premiere, arranged by the premiere committee so that there was something to do for those who could not obtain a ticket to the film.

43. The governor of Georgia had declared December 15 a state holiday and government offices and most business were closed.

44. Later in his life, Clark’s memories of the premiere were limited to how nice the people of Atlanta were and how beautiful Carole had looked. “People were just agog at Ma–she was so beautiful. They were all at her feet.”

45. Clark did not see the film before the premiere–and didn’t see all of it until the mid 1940’s. He fell asleep.clark gable vivien leigh margaret mitchell olivia de hailland david selznick gone with the wind

Let’s take a look at the stars of Gone with the Wind before they starred in their iconic roles 75 years ago…

Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara)

vivien leigh

 

Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Wilkes)

olivia de havilland

 

Ann Rutherford (Carreen O’Hara)

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Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O’Hara)

evelyn keyes

 

 

Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes)

leslie howard

Barbara O’Neill (Ellen O’Hara)

barbara oneill

Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O’Hara)

thomas mitchell

and…a young Clark Gable (Rhett Butler)clark gable

 

ann rutherford

It was with a heavy heart that I learned of Ann Rutherford’s passing yesterday. She lived to be 94, which is itself an accomplishment,  but my heart just breaks as we continue to lose these classic stars. Their era is fading away, and with them goes their memories.

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I met Ann for the first time in November 2009 at the 70th anniversary of Gone with the Wind event in Marietta, GA . She was full of life, very spunky and those big brown eyes were quite the giveaway to her youthful self. I only spoke with her briefly. At the time I was pregnant and she congratulated me and said, “I hope you’ll show Gone with the Wind to your child…that is what is important, that is what keeps it going, people passing it down through generations. If you would have told me in 1939 that seventy years later I would be attending events for Gone with the Wind, I would thought you were off your rocker.” I told her that she was the reason I had watched the Andy Hardy movies (I am no Mickey Rooney fan) and she brightened. “Those were so fun, wholesome…” I commented how her character Polly and Andy, despite being sweethearts on and off through the film series, didn’t end up together. She said, “Goodness, no! You never end up with your childhood sweetheart. Besides, Polly was too good for him!”

ann rutherford

During the Q&A portion of the event, Ann was asked by an audience member about Clark Gable. She said, “I didn’t have any scenes with Clark Gable….but I could look at him!” The whole place erupted into laughter. She also talked about how “cool” he was and how he was the perfect Rhett Butler.

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Listen here:

      1. RutherfordaboutGable

In 2011, Ann attended what would be her last GWTW event in Marietta. The first morning there was a breakfast held at a country club. The other stars–Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis, Morgan Brittany, along with several authors–were all in attendance. We were told that Ann was supposed to have been there but she was still asleep when they went to get her and decided best to let her sleep and to see her at the afternoon events.

My friend and I were mingling around the room and were one of the last to leave at the end of the breakfast. Imagine our surprise  when who should waltz in at the last minute but Ann! She realized she had been left behind and had called a cab and got there herself! She was all bubbly about her crazy cab driver and so apologetic about being late. When the organizers told her she could have slept in, she said indignantly, “I said I would be here so I am here.” She posed for pictures with some of the remaining fans and could not have been sweeter or nicer.

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The next day at the autograph event, we stood in line for over an hour. Ann was the last one in the line, after Patrick, Mickey, Morgan and authors such as Susan Lindsey and Ann Edwards. When we finally reached where Ann Rutherford was in sight, we realized why the line was taking so long. Ann was signing away, chatting with everyone who approached her and letting people take as many pictures as they wanted. Everyone wanted to stop and chat with her!

Ann was quite the little social bee back in her heyday. She is pictured often at nightclubs and hot spots, on the arms of many different famous men! Here are some shots of dear little Ann.

Ann caught the bouquet at Ann Shirley’s wedding in 1939. Looks like she was already interviewing grooms…

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Adorable shot of Ann at the happenin’ nightclub Ciro’s. She’s seated next to Maureen O’Hara, who is still with us.

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These two are her horsing around with Robert Stack, one of her frequent companions, 1940:

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Bowling the night away:

ann rutherford

With fellow actresses Maureen O’Hara, Brenda Marshall, Laraine Day and Rita Hayworth:

maureen o'hara ann rutherforf laraine day brenda marshall

With Lana Turner and Joan Crawford:

lana turner ann rutherford joan crawford

Attending Susan Peters’ baby shower, along with Donna Reed, Laraine Day, June Allyson and others.

ann rutherford susan peters laraine day june allyson donna reed

Catching up with frequent co-star Mickey Rooney ( I hope they get a quote from him in the next few days):

ann rutherford mickey rooney

Glamour shots:

This one is interesting. She is modeling a replica of Scarlett’s barbecue dress from GWTW, being sold in stores to captialize on the film

ann rutherford

Swimsuit shots:

ann rutherford

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Ann teaches us the fine art of sewing:

ann rutherford

ann rutherford

I learned today that Ann will be laid to rest next to her husband, producer William Dozier, at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

Rest in peace, Ann. “Can’t I stay up for the ball tomorrow night?”

Turner Classic Movies has announced that it is changing its programming on July 3 to honor Ann Rutherford. The new lineup is as follows:

6:00 AM Of Human Hearts (’38)
7:45 AM Love Finds Andy Hardy (’38)
9:30 AM Four Girls in White (’39)
10:45 AM Pride and Prejudice (’40)
12:45 PM Washington Melodrama (’41)
2:15 PM This Time for Keeps (’42)
3:30 PM Whistling In Dixie (’42)
4:45 PM Two O’Clock Courage (’45)
6:00 PM The Adventures of Don Juan (’48)

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Here’s one about Ann Rutherford, who played Carreen O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, from September 1940:

Cute little Ann Rutherford has something new in charm necklaces. The necklace is made of miniature car license numbers of her favorite actors. Among them are Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart and Mickey Rooney.