clark gable gone with the wind rhett butler

From April 1940:

I asked Clark Gable if he felt it dangerous to work so long in a single film such as “Gone with the Wind.” Fans forget easily. Will the role of Rhett Butler, no matter how colorful, be strong enough to hold Clark at the top, to overcome the long months of getting him on celluloid? Gable writes thus:

“Rather than being too dangerous to work too long in one picture, I can say from experience that it is of definite value to an actor and makes for a superior film. There is no substitute for adequate and careful preparation. ‘Gone with the Wind’ proves this. From an acting stand point, the player benefits from a long production schedule, which enables him to become thoroughly acquainted with the character he is portraying and develops the characterization to the fullest extent of his ability. I do not believe that working too long on one film is any menace to a career. If an actor makes one role stand out and remain memorable, he has certainly profited as much as if he made four pictures over a similar period. There is no truer saying in Hollywood than that an actor is no better than his last picture. And if working for more than a year in ‘Gone’ has menaced Vivien Leigh’s career, I could stand a lot of menace.”

So there you are, Clark is willing to stand or fall on Rhett. A recent exhibitor poll, conducted by The Motion Picture Herald, a trade paper, found Gable still among the first ten stars. No. 4 to be exact. And he had only two films released in 1939, “Idiot’s Delight” and “GWTW.” Which shows the potency of Gable’s personality. Absence only makes the fans’ hearts grow fonder.

Today is our last Gone with the Wednesday! I’m a bit proud that there was a GWTW-related post once a week, every week for an entire year! I’ll have a recap of all the posts tomorrow in my annual “Year in Review” post.

I am devoting this post to all you GWTW fans out there. The fact that this film has endured for 75 years is because of you!

Thank you to all the Gable and GWTW fans who have egged me on and supported the site throughout the year!

gone with the wind

 

clark gable carole lombard gone with the wind

This week, here is a repost of a post I did in 2010 detailing the Los Angeles premiere of Gone with the Wind, which took place December 29, 1939. Carole Lombard, in a gold gown, was the belle of the ball on Clark Gable’s arm! See who else attended and what the wore…

 

http://dearmrgable.com/?p=591

 

clark gabel carole lombard david selznick

Clark Gable and Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick didn’t exactly always see eye-to-eye (to put it mildly), but nonetheless David let bygones be bygones and gifted Clark with this gorgeous Tiffany’s cigarette case for Christmas in 1939:

clark gable david selznick christmas gone with the wind

“Presented to Clark Gable at the completion of “Gone with the wind” Atlanta–Dec. 25, 1939 David O. Selznick.”

I wonder if he gave it to him at the Atlanta premiere, which was just ten days before Christmas?

The case went for $20,000 at auction a few years back (complete with the unfiltered cigarettes). Quite a priceless artifact! Here’s hoping maybe it pops up in a museum one day…

 

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.

clark gable gone with the wind

 

 

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.

gone with the wind

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”

clark gable carole lombard

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

Photos from the set of Gone with the Wind:

Clark Gable was famous for thirty years and in that time signed a lot of things–pictures, movie posters, books, handkerchiefs, napkins, hairbows, baseballs, hats…I’ve seen it all. This one, however, is new to me. Here Clark has signed–and inscribed–a copy of Gone with the Wind in Italian!

clark gable gone with the wind italian clark gable gone with the wind italian clark gable gone with the wind italian

Clark Gable writing in Italian! I would believe that this was inscribed while he was in Europe, either during his tax hiatus in 1952-1954 or while he was in Italy filming It Started in Naples in 1959. I am no expert on the various editions of GWTW so maybe someone can help me out with the year.

I also know very little Italian, but this seems to say something about “express my love to mother” and the lady’s last name. Peculiar. A rare item at any rate, it was sold at auction a few years ago for $300.