Showing posts with label GWTW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GWTW. 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!





Friday, April 28, 2017

Fashion Friday: Gone With The Wind's Honeymoon Necklace & Lovebird Dress

In Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh's costume jewelry was created by Eugene Joseff. Joseff worked with his longtime friend, Walter Plunkett (Gone With the Wind's costume designer) to create the perfect pieces for Scarlett to wear. Joseff began his Hollywood career in the 1920s, creating some of the most gorgeous pieces of jewelry ever seen on the silver screen. After his death in 1948, his wife, Joan Castle, took over the business, creating jewelry for the movies until 2006. Besides Gone With the Wind, their work can be seen in hundreds of movies such as The Shanghai Gesture, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Cleopatra, The Virgin Queen, Cover Girl, High Society, That Hamilton Woman, Anna Karenina and the list goes on!

For today's Fashion Friday post, I thought we'd look at one of the costumes and necklaces from Gone With the Wind. Rhett and Scarlett have just been married and are currently enjoying their honeymoon in New Orleans. Scarlett wears a sumptuous, midnight blue gown, adorned with lovebirds.


In the movie, we only see Scarlett sitting down, while wearing this dress. The Butlers are eating at a restaurant with CanCan dancers as the entertainment. I really wish I could find a full-length photograph of Vivien Leigh in this dress.

Scarlett eyes the desserts! 
Walter Plunkett's sketch of the lovebird dress
Around Vivien's neck is this gorgeous diamond and amethyst necklace. The diamonds are really iridescent stones, which set off the simulated amethysts. Joseff certainly knew how to deliver the Wow factor!

Image is from the SFO Museum's website
Scarlett's necklace is set to go on the auction block in November. Since it's from one of the most iconic and beloved movies of all time, I think the selling price will be quite high. In addition to the necklace, Vivien wears a matching bracelet, which is stunning with its intricate detail.


Besides Gone With the Wind, the necklace appeared in three other films.

It's first appearance after Gone With the Wind is in the 1948 movie, Let's Live A Little, starring Hedy Lamarr. 


The next time we see the necklace, it's adorning Ginger Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway, in 1949. It appears that the strands were tightened to give it more of a choker look.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

The last leading lady to wear the necklace is Linda Darnell in Blackbeard the Pirate, from 1952. The necklace now appears to have been returned to its former Gone With the Wind glory. 

Torin Thatcher and Linda Darnell

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