Showing posts with label Clark Gable. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clark Gable. Show all posts

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Vivien Leigh's "Gone With The Wind" Script Is Up For Auction

In recent years, a plethora of items related to Gone With the Wind have turned up on the auction block. This year is no different. On September 26, Sotheby's will be auctioning off items personally owned by the movie's star, Vivien Leigh. One item, in particular, will be drawing the attention of Gone With the Wind collectors: Vivien's leather-bound script, gifted to her by the producer, David O. Selznick.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett & Leslie Howard as Ashley

David O. Selznick gave these presentation scripts as Christmas gifts, in 1939, to select members of the cast and crew of Gone With the Wind, along with a few people outside the filmThere were two styles of these hardbound scripts: one screenplay was covered in cloth and morocco leather; the other, in leather only. The four main cast members (Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard and Vivien) all received ones bound in full leather.

Leslie Howard's leather-bound presentation script

These presentation scripts were maroon in color, with GONE WITH THE WIND, 'SCREEN PLAY' and the recipient's name gilt-stamped onto the cover. Selznick inscribed each copy with a personalized note to the recipient, found inside on the front end paper. These beautifully bound scripts were given the date of January 24th, 1939 and contained the finalized script of the film. Black and white stills from the movie were interspersed with the script.

Vivien Leigh's script is not the first one from the movie to be auctioned. Selznick handed out a few dozen of these scripts and many of them have been on the auction block. Walter Plunkett's, Hattie McDaniel's and Clark Gable's scripts have all been sold via auction houses.

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel's script was made from cloth and leather. It's been on the auction block at least twice. In December 2010, Hattie's screenplay sold for $18,300 and then in April 2015, it sold again for $28,750. The seller noted that the covers had come unbound from the spine, along with leather loss and a stain on the front. Selznick's personal note to Hattie reads, For Hattie McDaniel, who contributed so greatly! With gratitude and admiration, David, Christmas, 1939.

Selznick's inscription to Hattie

Walter Plunkett, the costume designer for Gone With the Wind, also received a presentation script made from cloth and leather. At an auction, in April 2015, Plunkett's personalized screenplay sold for $22,500. Selznick's inscription reads, For Walter Plunkett, With appreciation of, and for, his brilliant execution of a difficult job. David O. Selznick, Christmas, 1939.

Walter Plunkett's cloth and leather bound GWTW script

Gone With the Wind's publicist, William R. Ferguson, received one of these cloth and leather bound books, too. It's signed, For Bill Ferguson, in memory of Atlanta. With appreciation, David Selznick. Ferguson's copy sold at auction, in October 2014, for $23,000.

Walter Plunkett and Olivia de Havilland

Sidney Howard, the only credited screenwriter for Gone With the Wind, passed away in August, 1939. His all leather copy was presented to his widow, Polly Damrosch. Selznick didn't inscribe this one. However, Polly gave the script to her nephew, writing, With love to Blaine on Jennifer's birthday, March 23rd, 1940, from Polly. This script hit the auction block in 2008, selling for $3,250; and then again in 2014, this time selling for $62,500. 

Norma Shearer, a would-be Scarlett at one time, received one of the special, leather bound screenplays. David wrote, For Norma, the ever appreciative. With gratitude for her never-failing encouragement, and with affection. David, Christmas, 1939. Norma's script fetched $14,640, at an auction, in 2011.


A few of the other recipients included William Kurtz, John Hertz, Will Price, William B. Hartsfield and the book's author, Margaret Mitchell. Mitchell's leather-bound, presentation script is kept in Atlanta. The Atlanta Fulton Public Library placed it on display for the 75th anniversary of the book's publication.

William B. Hartsfield's personalized screenplay was presented to him during Gone With the Wind's 21st anniversary, by David Selznick. The event was held in Atlanta and attended by Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Selznick (read more about that event here). Hartsfield was Atlanta's mayor during the film's original premiere in 1939 and also during the film's anniversary celebration. Inside the script, David wrote, March 10, 1961, To Mayor William B. Hartsfield with the affection and gratitude of the "Gone With The Wind Company," including his admirers. David O. Selznick. The script was also signed by Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Butterfly McQueen and Samuel Yupper, a friend of Mitchell's. It sold at auction, in 1995, for $8,625.

Will Price bequeathed his Gone With the Wind script to writer Carla Carlisle (Country Life, Sept 6, 2017). Will was the Southern voice coach for the cast. Selznick wrote, For Will Price, who literally shoved the South down our throats. With good wishes always, David Selznick.


Leslie Howard's script recently hit the auction block, in November 2016, as part of TCM Presents... Lights, Camera, Action, with an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It remained unsold. Selznick's inscription reads, For Leslie, with the profound, (but probably futile), hope that he'll finally read it. Christmas, 1939. Howard was kind of famous on set, for never having read Gone With the Wind, even after Selznick told him to at least read Ashley's scenes that were making it into the movie.

In 1996, Clark Gable's personalized screenplay sold for a whopping $244,500! The winning bid was placed by Steven Spielberg. The leather-bound script was inscribed to Gable by David Selznick, who referenced how the public, almost unanimously, chose Clark Gable to play Rhett Butler, For Clark, who made the dream of fifty million Americans (who couldn't be- and weren't- wrong!) and one producer come true! With gratitude for a superb performance and a happy association, David, Christmas, 1939. Gable later recalled how he didn't want the role of Rhett Butler, It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the compliment the public was paying me, it was simply that Rhett was too big an order. I didn't want any part of him, Rhett was too much for any actor to tackle in his right mind.

Clark Gable as Rhett and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett

Now, on September 26th, Vivien Leigh's leather-bound, personalized script will go on the auction block. Sotheby's selling estimate is between $13,300 to $19,900. However, this is not the first time Vivien's family has attempted to sell her screenplay.

In 2006, Bonhams listed the book, citing the provenance as by direct family descent (most likely Vivien's daughter, Suzanne Farrington). The selling estimate was given as $80,000 to $120,000. The script didn't sell and remained with the family.

Vivien Leigh's leather-bound presentation script

Unfortunately, David's inscription to Vivien is missing from the book. Sotheby's catalog states (pages 36-37 pdf) ...Vivien's copy now has a jagged-edged stub where the inscribed leaf has been cut out with a pair of scissors. We'll probably never know what happened to David's note to Vivien. Perhaps a guest or fan took it home as a souvenir or one of Vivien's grandchildren accidentally tore it out. Then there's always the possibility that Vivien removed the inscription herself, if she were truly mad at David Selznick.

In 1945, Selznick filed an injunction against Vivien, attempting to prevent her from appearing in the play, The Skin of Our Teeth. Sir Walter Monckton, Selznick's attorney, argued that The screen personality of a leading lady is a very valuable commodity to be treated rather as an exotic plant. Under the terms of his contract with Miss Leigh, Mr. Selznick claimed the right to decide how 'the exotic plant' was to be exposed so that it could not be subjected to unwise exposure. ...A screen personality is something so expensive and so valuable that a person investing in it large sums of money will naturally say, 'I want to prevent you from entering into adventures otherwise than with my consent.'  

Vivien's attorney, Valentine Holmes, contested this testimony. He said that it was against public policy to have restrictive clauses in a contract that prevented anyone working in 'war time.' No injury to Mr. Selznick could occur through letting her act for eight weeks in the play, but considerable damage and inconvenience would be caused to a number of completely innocent people if she was prevented. He went on with Vivien's affidavit. It had been decided under American law that a contract such as hers with Mr. Selznick was unenforceable after seven years, and in view of that decision, Mr. Selznick had for some months been urging her to enter into a new agreement. She refused as it would involve her in film appearances over a number of years and separate her for long periods from her husband. Vivien won the injunction.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara

It'll be very interesting to see how much Vivien's personalized screenplay will sell for at auction, especially if two buyers get into a bidding war. There are many Gone With the Wind fans, including myself, who would love to have it as part of their collection.

Detail of the front cover of Vivien's script
Detail of the front cover of Vivien's script


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Friday, September 8, 2017

Fashion Friday: Scarlett's Red Dress

Today's Fashion Friday post is about Scarlett's scandalous, red ball gown. Rhett forces her to wear the dress to Ashley's surprise birthday party. Earlier in the day, Scarlett and Ashley were caught hugging by India Wilkes. Scarlett doesn't want to go to the party, but Rhett won't have anything to do with her cowardice.

Rhett (Clark Gable) embraces Scarlett (Vivien Leigh)

Rhett: You're not ready for Melanie's party.
Scarlett: I've got a headache, Rhett. You go without me and make my excuses to Melanie.
Rhett: What a white, livered, little coward you are! Get up. You're going to that party and you'll have to hurry.
Scarlett: Has India dare--?
Rhett: Yes, my dear, India has. Every woman in town knows the story and every man, too.
Scarlett: You should have killed them, spreading lies.
Rhett: I have a strange way of not killing people who tell the truth. No time to argue. Now get up.
Scarlett: I won't go. I can't go until this, this, misunderstanding is cleared up.
Rhett: You're not going to cheat Miss Melly out of the satisfaction of publicly ordering you out of her house.
Scarlett: There was nothing wrong. India hates me so. I- I can't go, Rhett. I couldn't face them!
Rhett: If you don't show your face tonight, you'll never be able to show it in this town as long as you live. And while that wouldn't bother me, you're not going to ruin Bonnie's chances. You're going to that party, if only for her sake. Get dressed.

GWTW Publicity Photo

Rhett: Wear that. Nothing modest or matronly will do for this occasion. And put on plenty of rouge. I want you to look your part tonight.


Scarlett and Rhett arrive at Ashley's birthday party

Rhett: Good night, Scarlett
Scarlett: But, Rhett, you've-- 
Rhett: You go into the arena alone. The lions are hungry for you.
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett don't leave me. Don't.
Rhett: You're not afraid? (and then walks away)

As most fans of Gone With the Wind know, all of Scarlett's costumes were designed by the amazing Walter Plunkett. David Selznick, the film's producer, brought Plunkett on board as early as 1936. Walter was a native Californian, who'd been designing costumes for the movies since 1926. The imdb website credits him as costume designer on almost 300 movies.

For his research on Gone With the Wind, Plunkett traveled to the Southern U.S., visiting Atlanta, Savannah and Charleston, in search of inspiration for his costumes. He met with Margaret Mitchell, who gave him a list of books to help guide him in his fashion search. He also met with the Daughters of the Confederacy, where one of the ladies gave him fabric samples of dresses worn during the time of the Civil War (1861 to 1865).

Walter Plunkett and Vivien Leigh

In the book, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell imagined Scarlett's dress of shame as jade green. [Rhett] drew out her new jade green watered silk dress. It was cut low over the bosom and the skirt was draped back over an enormous bustle and on the bustle was a huge bunch of pink velvet roses. However, the final product was re-imagined in red.

In a memo to Raymond Klune, the production manager, David Selznick wrote: ...The third part of the picture should, by its colors alone, dramatize the difference between Scarlett and the rest of the people-- Scarlett extravagantly and colorfully costumed against the drabness of the other principals and of the extras. ...This picture in particular gives us the opportunity occasionally-- as in our opening scenes and as in Scarlett's costumes-- to throw a violent dab of color at the audience to sharply make a dramatic point.

Front of Scarlett's Red Ball Gown (from the HRC)

The red ball gown recently went through a restoration by the Harry Ransom Center. The conservationists discovered that additional feathers had been added to the gown, which they subsequently removed. There were also weights in the gown's hem, (which is pretty common in skirts and dresses to keep hems from flying up on windy days and to keep trains in place), which over the years had caused damage. They were removed to prevent further tearing of the dress.

Detail of the glass beading on the bodice (from the HRC)

This sleeveless, silk velvet gown is embellished with glass teardrop beads and round, red faceted beads at the neckline and a profusion of ostrich feathers around the shoulders. Rhett's choice of an ostentatious gown in an immodest burgundy-red color is intended to humiliate Scarlett. -description of dress from the Harry Ransom Center.

Back side of Scarlett's Red Ball Gown (from the HRC)


Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!





Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gone With the Wind's Alternate Ending

Many people who watch Gone With the Wind wish the movie had ended differently. Rhett's parting words to Scarlett, Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn, still makes people talk. And the question everyone wants answered is: What happened to Scarlett and Rhett?


Back in 1940, just months after Gone With the Wind had hit the big screen, Screen Guide magazine wondered the same thing. The fadeout of Gone With the Wind whets the curiosity of moviegoers. They watch Scarlett return to Tara alone, deserted by Rhett and they argue hotly among themselves about what happened afterward. "He'd never go back to her!" "Oh yes, he would!" "He wouldn't have to, she'd go to him!" The controversy surrounding the ending of Gone With the Wind is no criticism, but a great tribute to the film's compelling force. So real are the characters created by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh that they do not cease to exist when their images on the screen fade. Their lives go on in the imagination of every moviegoer. 

Screen Guide held a contest for an additional ending to Gone With the Wind. The prize was $10 and the winner was Arnold Manning, a member of the Navy, stationed on the USS Portland. Illustrations to Manning's story were completed by Bernard Thompson.

"I don't give a damn!" was Rhett's weary reply to Scarlett's selfish cry. "What will become of me?" Now see what might have happened after that.

Here's Manning's winning entry:


Rhett tries to forget in the company of  Charleston's Belle Watlings, drinking too much, cursing Scarlett. Meanwhile, Scarlett, fearing the pitying amusement of gossips, again plays the coquette with man after man, stealing younger girls' lovers.


Alone, Scarlett gives way to despair, realizing that she cannot live without Rhett. "I'll think about that tomorrow," the little opportunist used to say. But this problem she must think about now. She begins to plot ways and means of bringing Rhett Butler back to her.

Aboard his ship, Rhett continues to drink himself into insensibility, determined not to return to his wife, but still unable to break her hold over him. He decides to set sail on a long voyage. Scarlett, when she hears of the plan, takes desperate action to forestall it.


Scarlett has Rhett kidnapped and brought to their home. They spend another night like the one after Rhett carried her upstairs, but this time it is Scarlett who takes the aggressive. All goes well until he sobers up, and then he becomes furious at her trickery.


He slams  out of the house, returns to this ship, and gives orders to sail. He retires to his cabin with a bottle. No matter how much salt water he puts between himself and Scarlett, Rhett is never able to escape from the love he once thought was killed by her selfishness.

A day out to sea, Rhett wakes up, smashes an empty bottle against the cabin door, yells for a full one. A hand sets the bottle on the table. For a moment he thinks he see Scarlett before him, but convinces himself that the vision is a drunken mind's hallucination.


Moments later, a slightly more sober Captain Butler appears on deck. He stops by the mate at the wheel, begins to ask, "Did you see...?" Looking at the seaman's poker face, he finishes, "Never mind." "Your wife, sir?" the mate asks. "My wife?" "That's what she said, sir. She said you'd be looking for her, and that she would be waiting in the fo'c'sle."


Rhett strides angrily along the deck, fists clenched. "My wife! I'll throw that hussy in the brig. Said I'd be looking for her! If she thinks that I'll come running any time she snaps her fingers-- this time I'll kill her!... My wife," he muses. "She said she was my wife."


A different Scarlett waits for him-- proud, yet mutely appealing, promising surrender. "So you said you're my wife!" His manner changes. "You still say it-- and Scarlett, I'll hold you to it!"


And Rhett and Scarlett return together to Tara, to the land. Fadeout.






Friday, February 5, 2016

Fashion Friday #8: Hollywood Premiere of "Gone With the Wind"

On December 28th, 1939, Gone With the Wind finally had its premiere in Hollywood. The premiere was held at Fox's Carthay Circle Theater, which had opened in 1926. Sadly, the theater was demolished in 1969 to make room for an office block.


“Scarlett” in fucshia and white: Vivien Leigh wears an ermine coat over sequin sprinkled souffle with its matching veil and sequined bag.  Note that on the latter she carries Laurence Olivier’s orchids for a corsage effect fated for popularity.


Vivien Leigh's dress was designed for her by Walter Plunkett, who had also created her Atlanta premiere outfit. It's a shame there are no (known) color photos of Vivien in this dress. The fuchsia color would be amazing against her dark hair. Note how on top of her sequined hood, Vivien attached one of her brooches.


The gang's all here, well almost all of them... Jock Whitney, financial backer of GWTW, stands next to Irene Selznick, followed by Olivia de Havilland, David Selznick, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier at the Carthay Circle Theater.


After the movie was over, Jock Whitney thew a huge party for the attendees, at the new Trocadero Club. Obviously having a good time, at the Trocadero, are Olivia de Havilland, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and David Selznick.


It’s Clark (“Rhett Butler”) Gable’s big night and wife Carole Lombard does him proud in a classic gown and wrap of stippled gold. With this she wears a minimum of jewelry, topping tiny earrings with a chic up hair-do. 


In March, 1939, Clark was in the middle of filming Gone With the Wind when his divorce from wife number two came through. Clark wasted no time in making Carole the new Mrs. Gable and the couple drove down to Arizona to tie the knot.


The Gables hang out with Marion Davies and Raoul Walsh. The foursome were photographed at the Carthay Circle Theater, on the red carpet, where Gone With the Wind would shortly be shown.


Double play at the "Gone With the Wind" opening! Ginger Rogers not only enters the theater on the arm of Walter Plunkett, who created "Scarlett O'Hara's" own premiere ensemble, as well as the costumes for the picture...



Ginger Rogers wears a very smart tunic gown of palest blue and silver lame, exactly matched by the turban, which serves to conceal her currently dark hair. Her wrap is silver fox. Ginger was in the middle of filming Primrose Path and had dyed her blonde hair dark for the role (she also chose not to wear any make-up for the part).


Inside the Trocadero Club, at Jock Whitney's party, Walter Plunkett and Ginger Rogers are all smiles.


Lana Turner flaunts a lynx coat, which is very nearly as stunning as her tricky feather bird. The latter’s an anchor for the hood of Lana’s Gladys Parker gown. Lana was one of the would-be Scarletts. She auditioned for the role back in November, 1938.


Surprise? Another sweeping ermine wrap, this one-- not unlike Vivien’s-- belonging to Norma Shearer (who almost played the famous “Miss O’Hara“)! She is wearing a Directoire model of appliqued satin. Her Rhett Butler is George Raft, of course.


Margaret Sullavan, arriving with her husband, Leland Hayward, might have stepped right out of the family album in her broadcloth coat. with its quaint elbow capelet and baby pillow muff-- all banded with sealskin, that fur so dear to the hearts of our grandmothers’ day.


Tyrone Power and his wife, Annabella, arrive at Carthay Circle. The two had only been married since April and were still in the honeymoon stage. 


 Most girls would think it quite enough to make their entrance with Tyrone Power (let alone wearing his wedding ring!), but Annabella still seeks further honors with her basque waisted full skirted frock of brocaded satin damask under a white fox jacket whose extended shoulders are practically guaranteed to make the tiniest, most feminine star look even more fragile.


Gary Cooper and his wife, Veronica Balfe, arrive for the premiere. Fine feathers make a fine showing among the many opulent furs and gorgeous fabrics at the Carthay Circle, as Mrs. Gary Cooper proves with a brief, shaggy ostrich jacket. Her blazing diamond earrings strike an elegant note, too, though Gary’s face hardly looks too formal from this angle!


Joan Crawford's date for the night was Cesar Romero.


Gallantly, Cesar Romero helps Joan Crawford adjust the hood of her ermine wrap over her snood. The dress beneath is of flowing white crepe, tightly belted with heavy embroidery of  gold beads to match neckline.


Here are a few other celebrities who also attended the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind. Unfortunately, I don't have dress descriptions for these ladies. First up is Hattie McDaniel. Hattie brought to life the character Mammy from GWTW as no other actress possibly could have.


Miss Carreen O'Hara and Mr. Charles Hamilton, better known in real life as Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks attended the showing together. This was Ann's third time watching Gone With the Wind. She'd previously attended the Atlanta and New York premieres.


Paulette Goddard arrived on the red carpet with her husband, Charlie Chaplin. Paulette was another would-be Scarlett and actually made it to the final four in consideration. Her last screen test for Scarlett was on December 21st, 1938.


No matter what city Gone With the Wind had a premiere in (Atlanta, New York, Hollywood), the crowds turned out in droves to catch the slightest glimpse of Scarlett, Rhett and all the others who brought Margaret Mitchell's masterpiece to life.

Thanks for joining me for this week's fashion post!

All italicized dress descriptions are from Photoplay, April, 1940.