Gone with the Wind is an iconic movie that will forever be cherished. With the classic characters, impeccably written screenplay, and immaculate sets, there is no other movie that can compare. The impact of the movie is still strong, even though it’s been 80 years since it was first released. It was released in 1939, which is the same year that The Wizard of Oz came out. That’s not the only similarity between the two movies.
The movies were competing against each other in the box office, but Gone with the Wind ultimately won. However, things weren’t always so peachy in Hollywood back in the 30s. There were many issues, including segregation and the gender pay gap. Yes, these problems are still going on in Hollywood today, but thankfully, it’s much less. You should see what some of the black actresses had to go through.
Here are some behind the scenes secrets of Gone with the Wind.
We’ve all seen Vivien Leigh do an incredible job portraying the gorgeous Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. It’s tough to imagine anybody else playing such an iconic role. However, may other young actresses of the time were also after the lead part, which Margaret Mitchell already established in her novel.
With a heavily marketed casting call, many young Hollywood starlets showed up to audition. Some of these heavyweights included Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Paulette Goddard. Eventually, Leigh won the role! However, it wasn’t until a month after filming started when the producer, David O. Selznick, finally settled on the stunning actress. It wasn’t an easy job, though. The actress worked 16 hour days and was constantly exhausted.
Nowadays, if an actor is able to portray a heartfelt emotional scene, he can win praise and awards. Unfortunately, back in the 1930s, Hollywood didn’t represent the ‘sensitive man’ in a lead role. During that time, actors were supposed to signify the “ideal man.” This meant that they were normally masculine, and there was definitely no room for tears.
In Gone with the Wind, Clark Gable was supposed to show sorrow and distress when Scarlett suffered a miscarriage after falling down the stairs while running from him. Initially, Gable wasn’t up for it. He was convinced that audiences weren’t ready to see an emotional male character on their screens. Although he was scared to damage his acting credibility, Gable finally agreed and shed tears for the scene.
Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar Award for her portrayal of “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. Well, it turns out that the actress already demonstrated personal ties to the story. Her family history was involved in the Civil War and slavery, which was what the movie depicted. Talk about art imitating life.
McDaniel’s parents were actually former slaves. Her dad was a soldier during the Civil War and fought in the United States Colored infantry as a freed slave. Luckily, he survived the war but suffered terrible injuries. The actress’s mother was also a slave. Everything comes full circle. When she won the Oscar for her role in the movie, she made history as the first black actor to win the award.
Gone with the Wind was a huge hit when it came to awards in Hollywood. This was partly because of the groundbreaking use of Technicolor. The technology for Technicolor was already around and being used in films for years at that point. Gone with the Wind, however, used seven Technicolor cameras just to shoot the scene that illustrated the burning of Atlanta.
Similarly to The Wizard of Oz (which was released at the same time), the entire movie used vivid colors to capture the beautiful story. The impressive movie quality didn’t go unnoticed. When award season came around, Hollywood created a whole new category dedicated to color cinematography. Needless to say, Gone with the Wind was the first-ever movie to earn that award.
Vivien Leigh is obviously a talented actress, but it was her beauty that really brought Scarlett O’Hara to life. Leigh’s captivating eyes drew audiences into her beauty; however, her crystal blue eyes were wrong for the character. Margaret Mitchell already described Scarlett in the novel as having “black hair and green eyes.”
Her hair color was correct, but of course, hair is much easier to change then eyes. Well, since everyone involved in creating this movie was determined to make it perfect, there was a lot of work done post-production to alter Leigh’s eye color in order to stay true to her character. It must have worked considering the actress won an Oscar award for her role in the movie.
After giving timeless performances and winning two Oscars, it’s clear that Vivien Leigh is an incredibly talented actress. But like many other Hollywood stars, she had her standards when it came to keeping her integrity and self-respect for a role. As a proper English Woman, Leigh had a few challenges when she was asked to produce coughing and gagging sounds for a scene.
The specific scene was when her character bites into a rotten vegetable before having a choking fit. It was difficult for Leigh to produce such repulsive sounds. Luckily, her costar, Olivia de Havilland, replicated the disgusting sounds. Her coughing vocals were added into the sound mix, and Havilland saved the day!
The cast of Gone with the Wind was mainly British. The only non-British lead in the film was Clark Gable. Vivien Leigh was a British-ruled India native, and when she read the lines for her character, it didn’t exactly define a high British accent. Thankfully, they didn’t dismiss the actress’s unrealistic accent.
Instead, the director, George Cukor, decided to go on filming. But it was the producer, David Selznick, who defended the actress in a letter. His argument was that her accent was “closer than a Yankee’s to that of a Southerner.” His effort to defend her “Englishness” seemed to have worked, considering the actress was never replaced. That’s a good thing because no one else could have played the part the way she did.
It shook audiences everywhere and was heard all around the core. It was destined to become one of the most repeated movie quotes in history. In the midst of a hailstorm, Rhett Butler uttered the iconic line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” The producers battled for months, trying to figure out if it’s necessary to include the four-letter D-word.
Director David O. Selznick searched through the Hays code sensors’ red tape. He was ultimately victorious. At the time, it was kind of a big deal to include the D bomb in a movie, so the scene shocked moviegoers. However, what many people seemed to have missed is that the word was mentioned earlier in the film when someone screams out, “Damn Yankees.”
Scarlett and her comrades were forced to leave Atlanta in one of the most legendary scenes in cinematic history. The memorable moment depicts Atlanta burning to the ground in front of our very eyes. The visual mastery was so impressive; it’s a surprise that it was even possible to shoot such an incredible scene in 1939.
Well, it turns out these kinds of cinematic scenes are made possible by a lot of money. Just to film that one scene cost $25,000. It may not sound like that much, but back in the 30s, this was a lot. It was such a major financial risk, and if it failed, the movie would have gone down inflamed instead of Atlanta.
After portraying such a classic character, Vivien Leigh reached new heights of fame. The actress even earned a best actress Oscar award for her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara. It was also well-known at the time that Leigh and her character shared the same genealogy.
The word going around at the time was that both Leigh and Scarlett were of French and Irish descent. This also granted Leigh more credibility because the realistic aura made her performance even more believable. Well, it turns out that this was all a PR move. Yes, Leigh was part Irish, but the rest of her genes were Scottish, not French. Wow! I thought publicity stunts were a new age thing, but I guess they used this technique back in the 30s.
Do you ever wonder what happened to the cast of Gone with the Wind? Well, considering the date of the movie, it’s not that surprising to hear that most of them have passed on. Well, there is one starlet from the film that is still shining bright. The beloved character of Melonie was portrayed by the gentle-faced Olivia de Havilland. The actress is still alive today.
Olivia de Havilland was born to British parents during World War I, but she is a Tokyo native. Like her costar Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland also proved her talent with a steller performance. She won the best actress award twice and is currently 103 years old! Wow, I wonder if I’ll make it to that age.
The magic behind Gone with the Wind has a lot to do with the main cast. However, there are some little known facts about the leading characters. For example, did you know that there was just one singular scene where they were all on-screen at the same time?
The specific scene is after Ashley comes home from Belle Watling’s house. He wasn’t feeling too great, and all the women attended to him at his bedside. Although there were several love triangles tangled up in the story, this is the only instance when all four lovers were on screen together. Most people don’t catch that little detail, so if you did, you are a true Gone with the Wind fan!
Gone with the Wind will always be remembered for its immense artistic efforts that came with monumental ambitions. David O. Selznick was in danger of having his vision destroyed in the scene that included a slew of injured Confederate soldiers. David’s vision required no less than 2,500 soldiers to be featured in the scene.
Unfortunately, the Screen Actors Guild didn’t have that many actors or even extras at their disposal. However, David O. Selznick persisted in bringing his vision to life on screen. This problem was solved by using 1,000 dummies in between all the real actors. It seemed to be a creative idea, and audiences didn’t seem to notice. With all the wannabe actors around Hollywood today, movies don’t face this problem anymore.
When Gone with the Wind came out, it was competing with another movie that was destined for greatness. The Wizard of Oz was released at the same time, but not only did they share the spotlight, they also shared a director: Victor Fleming. When Fleming came on to the project, he was the second man trying to tackle the task, replacing George Cukor.
Fleming really tried to juggle the two projects, but directing two of the greatest movies in history resulted in him leaving due to extreme exhaustion. The movie was ultimately saved by a third director, Sam Wood. The two films seemed similar because they both brought out the Technicolor technology and became extremely popular. However, Gone with the Wind killed The Wizard of Oz in the box office.
In Gone with the Wind, Ashley Wilkes was played beautifully by Leslie Howard. The talented star may have been a former Shakespearean stage actor, although literature wasn’t exactly his forte. Howard left his costars to do the heavy research while he added his own spin to the character. Many of the other cast members read original descriptions from Margaret Mitchell’s novel in order to perfect the role.
Howard, on the other hand, found the exertion unnecessary. Instead of reading the 1,037-page novel like the rest of the cast, Howard chose to present the role the way he interpreted it from the screenplay. You know what they say, the book is always better than the movie. I guess Howard will never know.
Out of all the castmates, Clark Gable was the jokester. He always kept the atmosphere on set lively and entertaining as the resident prankster. Since he already knew Hattie McDaniel from a previous acting job, she was the perfect target for Gable’s pranks. In one of the scenes of the film, Rhett offers Mammy a glass of whiskey. In reality, the whiskey was tea.
This happens in movies all the time since directors don’t want their actors drunk on set. Well, for the first take, Gable used real whiskey and passed it to McDaniel, who had no idea she was about to drink real alcohol. After downing the “tea,” McDaniel immediately spit it out. The actress definitely learned her lesson and started smelling the whiskey before pouring it into her mouth.
Vivien Leigh’s portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara became a classic simply because it wasn’t understated. For Gone with the Wind, Vivien Leigh was able to pull off the melodramatic character perfectly. Well, in reality, Leigh had a few tricks and subtle ways to get her point across on the screen.
Sometimes, on the movie set, Leigh wasn’t too enthusiastic about reading the screenplay. Instead, the actress would take out her personal copy of Margaret Mitchell’s novel and read it aloud on set. The actress was secretly trying to remind the director, Victor Fleming, that the book should be the one driving the film. Of course, this helped her performance, but it also helped the film as a whole, bringing back some of its roots.
Vivien Leigh is remembered for being ladylike and elegant in everything she does. She helps convince the masses that English women are proper and outstandingly similar to those of southern Belles. Although she was multi-talented, there was one thing the actress couldn’t do. She lacked even the most basic ability to dance.
Gone with the Wind wasn’t exactly known as a Broadway production. However, the movie did feature some brief dancing that occurred in the Confederate ball scene. Leigh didn’t have the best rhythm, and her two left feet couldn’t handle even the simplest dance moves. Luckily, she had a dance double. Sally De Marco stepped in to cover the distance shots and saved the day.
As soon as it was released, Gone with the wind was an immediate success. Even during its first test run in Riverside, California, it already scored high points. Audiences loved the movie and had enough patience to sit through the entire thing. Especially since they already sat through a different movie that was 2 ½ hours long by the same producer, David O. Selznick.
After watching the first movie as an opening act, the dedicated viewers remained seated for another 4 ½ hours for a very exclusive viewing of Gone with the Wind. Since the first viewing was edited differently, the audience didn’t get to hear the controversial, highly anticipated (and now iconic) line from Rhett Butler. “Frankly, my Dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Back in the 1930s, movie stars were attached to their studio in the same way that singers are to their record labels. It was extremely difficult to get your studio to allow you to release a project from a different studio. Actress Olivia de Havilland was not signed with MGM Studios or Selznick International, but she was persistent in her efforts to snag the part of Melonie. Therefore, she came up with a plan.
She came up with a genius plan and went straight to the women. She took Irene, Mayer’s daughter to Brown Derby, a popular restaurant in LA, and the two had tea together. After working her charms on Ms. Selznic, she ultimately convinced her that she would be perfect for the part. Needless to say, her brilliant plan worked! Selznick then persuaded her father.
Lucille Ball was a stunning up and coming model/actress during the casting call. The redhead that appeared in the Vitameatavegamin commercial wasn’t as lucky in real life when it came to her audition for Gone with the Wind. Prior to her audition, she spends six weeks with a brilliant acting coach to help her perfect her southern drawl.
Unfortunately, on her way to the audition, she got caught in the rainstorm and ended up at the audition soaking wet. Sadly, David O. Selznick didn’t give her the part, but Lucy didn’t let that bring her down. Decades later, she bought David’s production company and moved into the office that he was dismissed from. This girl does payback, right!
One of the most memorable elements from Gone with the Wind is its sweeping, wonderful score. When producer David O. Selznick was looking for the perfect composer, he wanted one specific man, Max Steiner. The Austrian immigrant was the godchild of Richard Strauss, a well-known romantic composer. After arriving to America with just $32, Steiner has risen to notoriety.
Steiner was already earning praise for his work on the composition of King Kong. He showed off his talent and determination once again when he worked 24/7 to perfect the composition for Gone with the Wind. There were times where he worked 20 hours straight just to meet deadlines. His hard work was all worth it, and it has become one of the most beloved scores in Hollywood history.
Although she was well known for her literature, Margaret Mitchell wasn’t into fame and being in the public eye. When the author won the Pulitzer Prize for her book, Mitchell was so desperate to get away from the press that she hid in a gospel concert. When her book was coming to life on Hollywood, she made it clear that she didn’t want to be involved.
Still, that didn’t stop the press from going after the famous author and hear her opinions. She was pretty clever when it came to dodging or deflecting questions from the paparazzi. When reporters asked her who she thought would play Rhett Butler, her amazing response was, “Groucho Marx,” which confused the interviewers.
We all remember when Superman used his powers to save Lois Lane, but before that, he was on Tara plantation courting Scarlett O’Hara. That’s right. George Reeves is one of the Tarlatan twins and the original Superman. He and Fred Crane, his on-screen twin brother, fought over Scarlett’s affection.
In Gone with the Wind, the dynamic duo both dyed their hair red. Warner Brothers was the one who chose Reeves’ last name for the movie. It was ultimately the name he used throughout his career in the entertainment industry. His character was Brent Tarlatan, and his twin is Stuart Tarlatan, played by Fred Crane. The twins appear in the opening scene of gone with the wind along with Scarlett O’Hara.
There is a Hollywood legend surrounding the Atlanta burning scene. Rumor has it that the intense flames may have been made possible by burning old sets. Apparently, before Vivien Leigh was even cast, she was standing right there with Lawrence Oliver, and the two were impressed. Unfortunately, nearby residents didn’t feel the same way. They were terrified.
The locals assumed that the studio was actually on fire. To be fair, they saw shooting flames come out of there. If you’ve seen the movie, you know this scene is brief. However, it took two hours to shoot. The LA Fire Department had to be called during the fire and ensured locals that Warner Brothers Studio wasn’t actually burning.
Hollywood talent really had a breakthrough in 1939. It was a great year for the industry, and one director worked on both The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. It’s understandable that these movies wanted some of the biggest stars in the industry, and that’s where the beloved fairytale beat out the wartime epic.
Billie Burke was supposed to play Aunt Pittypat in Gone with the Wind. She ended up turning down the role to play Glinda, the good witch, and made her way to the magical land of Oz. There was another actress meant to play Scarlett’s sister Careen, who also chose to turn down the part for the role of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. That’s right. I’m talking about the legendary Judy Garland.
Some of the most memorable actors of the movie didn’t show up to the Atlanta Premiere. Among these stars was Leslie Howard, who portrayed Ashley. He took his acting fame to his home country of Britain to raise morale during the start of World War II. He went on to star in several patriotic films and had an influence on his costars.
Clark Gable was another actor who helped out across the Atlantic. He even gave up Hollywood fame in order to become a United States Army Air Corps officer. Luckily, his film talents didn’t go to waste. He was asked to narrate a documentary about pilots in the war. He was perfect for the job considering he was involved in five combat operations against the Nazis.
We already mentioned Olivia de Havilland’s amazing dedication to her character, Melanie. She was so determined to perfect the role that she took it one step further. The actress wasn’t even a mother yet when she needed to portray a woman giving birth on camera. It was only a decade later when she actually got to experience childbirth.
To do the part justice, Olivia wanted an inside look into the process of childbirth. She went to the Los Angeles Country Hospital, put on a nurse outfit, and made her way to the delivery ward. She was able to witness childbirth, but she still wasn’t satisfied. She said she couldn’t replicate the pain if she didn’t feel it. This led her to cry out in earnest and nail the scene!
We spoke about how some of the characters in Gone with the Wind had to have their hair dyed, or eye color changed in postproduction. Well, this wasn’t limited to people who had to look the part. Even one of the horses needed a touch-up. Yep, even a horse got time in the makeup chair.
When the scene where Scarlett escapes Atlanta with her horse, he looked scrawny and malnourished. However, the horse that was brought to set was vibrant, energetic, and extremely healthy. To make sure the horse looked like he was starved, the production team did a great job painting dark circles around him, making it appear as if the famine withered his body.
Scarlett O’Hara was one the most sought out roles at the time. Any actress would have died to even be considered for the iconic role. That wasn’t the only sought after role, though. A lot of male actors had their eye on the part of Rhett Butler. Initially, producer David O. Selznick wanted Gary Cooper for the role, a cowboy with the demeanor of a gentleman. He even began arranging for the actor to switch studios, in order for him to be part of the Warner Brothers production.
Unfortunately, Cooper didn’t have high hopes for Gone With the Wind and rejected the offer. Clark Gable was next in line. As she soon as he landed the role, he took the opportunity to create one of the most memorable performances Hollywood has ever seen.
It’s amazing how much time went by since Gone with the Wind was released. I mean, it’s been nearly 80 years! Well, here is another little fact that will blow your mind. At the Atlanta premiere, the featured guests of honor were actually Civil War veterans. That is really crazy if you think about it, considering how long ago the war was.
The veterans were in their 90s at the time; they had people assist them and leaned on canes. Still, it’s crazy to think that these former Confederate Soldiers made their way down to the red carpet to attend the party of the year. The event even featured a model of the Twelve Oaks Plantation.
As we already mentioned, Olivia de Havilland lived longer than most of her costars from Gone With the Wind, but there is another one who’s still living. The actor’s name is Mickey Kuhn, and he played the part of Beau, Ashley and Melanie’s son. It makes sense that he is still alive, considering he was only seven years old in the movie, he had another on-screen connection with Vivien Leigh.
In A Streetcar Named Desire, Leigh starred as Blanche DuBois, and at the beginning of the movie, she gets directions from a sailor. What you probably don’t know is that the sailor is an older version of Mickey Cohen. I guess he was a good luck charm for the actress who won the Best Actress Oscar for both movies.
In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara is constantly surrounded by suitors. Well, in real life, the actresses were different kinds of suitors as they were after the part of Scarlett. Well, there was one actress in particular who stood out from the west. The stunning and talented Katherine Hepburn.
Hepburn was both tough and persistent. She was no stranger to acting or portraying strong female characters. She was obviously not shy and proclaimed “I am Scarlett O’Hara” to the producer, David O. Selznick. She didn’t get the lead role as she hoped, but they did find something for the starlet. She got to play a witness at Lawrence Oliver and Vivien Leigh’s wedding. At least she got to grace the screen with her beauty and presence.
Butterfly McQueen was the actress who portrayed Prissy, Scarlett’s maid. McQueen didn’t slow down and continued her acting her career after the film half a century later. In 1986, the actress landed a supporting role in Mosquito Coast. The movie also featured two new actors, who ended up as Hollywood Royalty: Harrison Ford, and Helen Mirren.
She came from Florida with her unforgettable stage name, and her voice was just as memorable. She lent that voice of hers to a comedy show that was broadcasted during World War II on American Military radio. Then, Butterfly moved to New York at the age of 64, where she attended City College and earned her degree in political science.
Hattie McDaniel was definitely a force to be reckoned with. The actress even beat out Eleanor Roosevelt’s maid when she landed the memorable and historical role of Mammy. Sadly, even though she was a Hollywood star, she still found herself as the subject of segregation.
The actress was the first black person ever to be invited to the Oscars. Unfortunately, she was relegated to sit in the back of the room. She made history when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress and proudly went on stage and accepted the award. In just one night, the talented starlet was the first black person to attend the Oscars and the first black person to win an Oscar.
It’s not surprising that Hattie McDaniel’s historic Oscar win touched many black actors and actresses in the industry. This was shown through a wonderful tribute by actress and comedian, Mo’Nique. When she earned her nomination for Best Supporting Actress, the outfit she wore on the red carpet looked a little bit familiar.
After Mo’Nique won the award, she mentioned Hattie in her tearful acceptance speech. She thanked the actress “for enduring all that she had to, so I wouldn’t have to.” She later explained that the white magnolia’s that were carefully placed in her hair, we also in honor of Hattie McDaniel. She wore the same flowers when she earned the exact same award, 70 years earlier.
Hattie McDaniel’s road to the Oscars wasn’t easy. Unfortunately, she ran into many bumps along the way, which reflects how severe the inequality was at the time. In December 1939, the movie finally opened in Atlanta, and the city celebrated with a party that lasted three days. Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen were not invited.
Clark Gable spoke out against the Jim Crow laws that prevented his friend, McDaniel, to join the festivities. Producer David O. Selznick understandably shared his objections. Gable was even planning to protest the party. This kind of discrimination was a huge problem at the time. McDaniel herself was the one who convinced Gable to go to the party. In the end, she was the one to make history.
There were other issues of discrimination that was going on at the time, and shockingly, still going on now. The gender pay gap has been addressed through the media in recent years, but it has been going on forever. Hollywood is obviously no exception to this major problem, but in the 1930s, the discrepancy was shocking.
To put this in perspective, Vivien Leigh was paid $25,000 for 125 days of work. Clark Gable, on the other hand, worked for a total of 71 days and made $120,000! Clearly, we still have a long way to go, but we’re moving forward. Obviously, the gender pay gap isn’t as insane and astonishing as it was back when this movie was filmed.
At the time the movie was being filmed, it was well-known that Clark Gable had his moments of rage, and Vivien Leigh didn’t quite get along with director, Victor Fleming. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only cast members who experienced dismay on the set of Gone with the Wind. There were two other actors who were also unhappy.
Leslie Howard hated his role as Ashley. Apparently, he was disgusted to play a pretty boy, which he wrote in a letter to his daughter. Butterfly McQueen was another actress who loathed the character she played. Butterfly categorized Prissy as backward and unintelligent. It was difficult for the actress to play her since she found the role to be repugnant and demeaning.
After starring in Gone with the Wind, the human actors weren’t the only ones to reached new heights of fame. Do you remember the horse that carried Gerald O’Hara, Scarlett’s Irish father into Tara Plantation? Well, he experienced a great deal of fame as well following the release of the movie. This horse had no problem snagging yet another classic role.
He will always be remembered for Galloping in the plantation. But he too went on to expand his acting career. Soon after, the horse accompanied Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger show in the TV show. The white steed even got a new name, Silver. Well, there’s another animal who has a more impressive resume than I do.