Showing posts with label Gone With The Wind. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gone With The Wind. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2018

Scarlett's Opening Scene in Gone With the Wind

On January 26, 1939, Vivien Leigh reported to work, for her first day of filming, on the set of Gone With the Wind. Finally, Vivien's dream of playing Scarlett O'Hara, a dream she'd been carrying with her since she first read the book, was about to come true.

The first scene scheduled, for shooting that day, was the front porch scene at Tara, with Scarlett and the Tarleton boys discussing the possibility of war. This is the scene in which the world would be introduced to Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara. The Tarleton twins were played by Fred Crane (Brent) and George Reeves (Stuart).  Over the course of the next nine and a half months, this opening scene would be filmed a total of five times. George Cukor directed it the first two times and Victor Fleming directed it the last three times.

After viewing the first attempt at this scene, producer David O. Selznick was not pleased. He didn't like the twins' hair color or style. In a memo dated January 30, 1939, David Selznick wrote the following to George Cukor: I feel very strongly that the hairdress we used on the twins makes them look grotesquely like a pair of Harpo Marx comics...because of the color of their hair. I would like Mr. Westmore to redress their hair and I would have him arrange with Mr. Plunkett for me to see them again in their next costumes and with their hair re-dressed before they work.

The first scene filmed on January 26, 1939.

Ray Klune, the production manager, recalled the following: Everybody was nervous and it showed in the next day's rushes. George had Vivien on too high a key, way up there. David felt that she was playing it as though it were the first act of a dress rehearsal. The same thing with the boys... they were overdoing it.

There's also a second memo dated January 30, in which Selznick thinks it would be better to use the white prayer dress for Scarlett's opening scene. For whatever reason, that idea is abandoned and Vivien Leigh continues to wear the barbecue dress.

For the second filming of this scene, George Reeves and Fred Crane showed up with a slightly different shade of hair color and a new 'do. Their curls were now gone. Scarlett still wore the barbecue dress, but now sported a black choker. However, Selznick wasn't pleased with the lighting.

Fred Crane, Vivien Leigh & George Reeves try this scene for the 2nd time.

By now, George Cukor had left the production and Victor Fleming was at the helm. Selznick darts off another memo, this time to Ray Klune, which is dated February 20:  We will start shooting again on Monday. Please get together with Mr. Fleming immediately in connection with the opening scene. We should start with the twins and then go to Gerald and Scarlett to permit you to change the condition of Tara. It would be my preference, if there is no reason against it, and if Fleming is agreeable, to then jump into retakes in the Bazaar, followed by Rhett and Scarlett on the McDonough Road.

The third time was not the charm. Scarlett and the Tarleton twins were moved from the side of the porch to the front of the porch.

The third time was not the charm!

Image from pinterest

...according to Fred [Crane], the film’s technical advisor, [Susan Myrick] who was a Daughter of the Confederacy, informed Selznick that 'a young girl showing that much bosom wouldn’t be sitting out with two young men unchaperoned in the afternoon.' (Source).

So, for the fourth time, the opening scene was filmed again. This time with Vivien Leigh in the white prayer dress, which was, by far, a more appropriate outfit for a young lady. Alas, Vivien looked too tired and Selznick sent her away for a break. Vivien had been working almost non-stop since January 26. She was exhausted and it showed.

Image from pinterest

Getting ready to film Scarlett's opening scene for the fourth time.

In 1960, Vivien discussed filming the opening scene for the fourth time and the fifth time: On the last day of shooting, we had to film the first scene of the picture all over again. The scene where I sit as a girl of sixteen, on the porch of Tara, saying,'Everyone is talking of war, war, war.' When we shot the scene again, David Selznick saw it and said to me, 'You look too old and too ill for the scene. Better take a holiday.' So I went off to France with Larry and came back [filmed it for the fifth time] and 'Gone With the Wind' was finished. 

The final filming of the front porch scene.

On October 12th, Vivien went before the cameras one last time as Scarlett O'Hara. During her time away from Hollywood, Vivien traveled to New York City, where she reunited with Laurence Olivier and also found the time to screentest for Rebecca. Then, Vivien and Larry traveled to England, before finally returning to Hollywood. Vivien showed up fresh and relaxed on the set for the final time and created cinematic history.

Perfection at last! (image from blueray)
Gone With the Wind was released two months later to great acclaim. David O. Selznick's attention to detail and strive toward perfection paid off in ways he couldn't possibly imagine. Reviewers loved the movie:

In its length alone, Gone With the Wind is the most imposing spectacle ever to reach the screen. It is magnificent, too, in its superb color, in its scrupulous details, in its scope, in its technical virtuosity, in its sheer extravagance. The film is dominated by Vivien Leigh. One carries away from the picture a rich store of unforgettable images. 

No puny adjectives fit Gone With the Wind. It is the most lavish, probably the most magnificent, ever to come out of Hollywood. 

The excitement of it will take your breath away...The spectator is convinced he is sitting in on history...The novel of the decade has been turned into the cinema of the century.

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

Thanks for reading!


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 Vivien to wear onscreen. 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 wore 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, was 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 was 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!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

11 Things About Vivien Leigh & the Oscars

Vivien Leigh only made nineteen movies during her thirty-three year career, as she preferred standing on the stage to standing in front of a camera. During her career, she took home two Oscars for Best Actress: one in 1940 and one in 1952. I decided it would be fun to compile of list of Oscar related trivia, that you may not know, concerning Vivien.

1. Vivien Leigh, a British actress, won both of her Oscars for portraying Southern women. She earned her first Academy Award, for Best Actress, for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone With the Wind. She earned her second Oscar, as Blanche DuBois, in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Vivien as Scarlett in Gone With the Wind

2. Vivien won both of her Best Actress Oscars during leap years: 1940 and 1952.

3. She was the first British actress to win an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Vivien and Oscar, 1940

4. Vivien knew in advance that she had won for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone With the Wind. The names of the winners were released the day before the ceremony to the newspapers. The LA Times ran the winners' names the day of the Academy Awards, instead of the day after.

5. According to Laurence Olivier's son, Tarquin, Olivier experienced a little bit of jealousy over her win and his loss (he had been nominated for Best Actor for Wuthering Heights):  On their way home, he grabbed her Oscar and 'It was all I could do to restrain myself from hitting her with it. I was insane with jealousy.' (1)

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier

6. Vivien wasn't able to attend the 1952 Academy Awards. She was appearing onstage in New York, as Cleopatra, in dual plays by Shaw and Shakespeare. She heard her name announced as the winner, via the radio, in her dressing room at the Ziegfield Theater.

Vivien dressed as Cleopatra, March 1952

7. Greer Garson accepted the Best Actress Award for A Streetcar Named Desire, on Vivien's behalf, at the 1952 award ceremony. Greer made a short speech: It's an honor and a thrill to accept this for you, Vivien. I hope you're listening in New York We're all very excited about it. God bless you and congratulations. I know she'd want to thank you if she were here herself. (2)

Bette Davis, George Sanders, Karl Malden (Best Supporting Actor), Greer Garson and Humphrey Bogart (Best Actor)

Vivien's co-star in A Streetcar Named Desire, Kim Hunter, also didn't attend the ceremony. Bette Davis accepted the Best Supporting Actress award on her behalf.

8. Vivien received her Best Actress Oscar later that year, in London, on June 17th. Johnny Green did the honor of presenting the statuette to Vivien.

Vivien Leigh and Johnny Green

9. In March 1953, Vivien arrived in Hollywood, from Sri Lanka, to continue filming Elephant Walk. While there, she planned on attending the 1953 Oscars and was scheduled to present the Best Actor Oscar. Her chosen dress for the evening was a stunning, ivory satin gown. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to attend due to a mental illness breakdown and had to return to London for treatment.

10. While Vivien was recovering from her breakdown thieves broke into her London home, Durham Cottage. They stole her Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire, along with silverware and miscellaneous clothing. Her Oscar was subsequently replaced by AMPAS.

Vivien as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire

11. In 1993, Suzanne Farrington (Vivien's daughter), sold some of her mother's things at a Sotheby's auction. One of the items placed on the block was the Oscar Vivien had won for Gone With the Wind. The statuette sold for $510,000, which was the highest amount paid for an Oscar at that time.

1. My Father Laurence Olivier by Tarquin Olivier, page 86
2. 1952 Oscars' video of Greer Garson accepting award

Thanks for reading!

Find more Vivien Leigh on Facebook and on Instagram.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fashion Friday #12: Gone With the Wind's 21st Anniversary

Gone With the Wind celebrated its 21st anniversary in March, 1961. The celebrations were held in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with the Civil War Centennial. Newspapers around the world ran headlines such as Scarlett turns 21. The three day event took place from Wednesday, March 8th to Friday, March 10th.

The luminaries began to pour into Atlanta on Wednesday. Olivia de Havilland,  David Selznick, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, George Murphy and several MGM business associates arrived together on a Gone With the Wind Delta Special flight. Thomas Mitchell, whom we all remember as Scarlett’s Pa, was too ill to attend the festivities. There was a large parade, with Olivia de Havilland in the lead car-- an open convertible-- that traveled down Peachtree Street.

Vivien didn’t arrive in Atlanta until the following day. After crossing the ocean, her plane landed first at Idlewild Airport (now JFK).  Vivien’s chosen outfit for the day was a two-piece tweed suit. The fawn colored suit featured large buttons and a fur collar. Her hat and shoes matched her suit perfectly in color. She topped her outfit off with a pair of dark sunglasses.

Unfortunately, when Vivien landed in New York, she agreed to a small press conference. The first reporter, who asked her a question, definitely asked her the wrong question. The journalist asked Vivien what part she played in Gone With the Wind.

Her response: Have you seen the picture? Have you read the book? When the fellow confessed that he had not done either, Vivien replied, Since you are not informed, gentlemen, there is no sense in continuing. But the reporter asked another question, Do you mind telling me what film you are going to do next?

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and I’m not playing the Roman spring! Then she swept from the room in true Scarlett O’Hara style. According to Dorothy Kilgallen, her response was far saltier than what she was actually quoted in the papers.

Vivien arrived in Atlanta on Thursday. Joseph Baird of The Christian Science Monitor wrote: Miss Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind  fame came home after 20 years of wandering in foreign parts, and the people took her to their hearts like a long lost daughter.

After disembarking, she received a bouquet of red roses from Mayor Hartsfield. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, who was in Atlanta for the special occasion, also greeted Vivien at the airport. On the list of activities for the day was a visit back to the Cyclorama with Olivia de Havilland. Vivien had originally toured it on her first visit to Atlanta. Also on the list was a scheduled press conference. For this event, Vivien wrapped herself in a mink coat and capped her head in an amazing --you either love it or hate it (I love it!)-- hat.

This was a much easier press conference as all these reporters knew whom she’d played in the movie. Vivien called herself a middle-aged Scarlett and discussed her upcoming world tour with the reporters on hand. One question that Vivien was asked, How did you, as a British actress, manage a convincing Southern drawl?  She replied, I just studied it for two weeks. She was also asked about walking away from that press conference in New York. She said she felt sorry for him because he had never read such a marvelous book. I love the book and I love Scarlett.

On Thursday night, a costume ball was held at the Biltmore Hotel, hosted by the Governor of Georgia, Ernest Vandiver. Antebellum skirts swooshed through the hotel as ladies dressed up in crinoline dresses and the men dressed up as Confederate soldiers and gentlemen of days past. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, recited part of Stephen Vincent Benet’s Pulitzer Prize winning, epic poem about abolitionist John Brown, titled John Brown’s Body.

Radie Harris accompanied Vivien Leigh to the ball.
Vivien wore an original ball gown, specially created for the 21st anniversary gala. One source that I have says the dress was made from satin, while another says it was made from silk. In either case, the white gown had a billowing skirt, which trailed behind Vivien when she walked. The dress featured a green velvet waistband with flowing ribbons down the backside of the skirt.

The very fitted bodice showed off the gown’s gorgeous embroidery. Green-blue sprays of flowers were embroidered onto the gown and peppered with pearls and rhinestones. Vivien’s accessories for the evening included a three strand pearl necklace with a diamond drop pin around her neck, while diamond hair barrettes adorned her coiffure. She topped the gown off with long gloves and a fox fur wrap, both white to match her dress.

David Selznick wore a traditional tuxedo, while Olivia de Havilland glowed in a gold ball gown. She accented her sleeveless, lace evening dress, with elbow length gloves.

The next evening Gone With the Wind re-premiered at the Loew’s Grand theater-- the same theater where the epic movie had its original premiere back in 1939. George Murphy played Master of Ceremonies.

On a special platform, Vivien told the crowd that It’s wonderful… it’s wonderful to be back. Her gown of choice for the evening was a sleeveless, white number with a small bow on the bodice. The ball gown featured sheer layers over the skirt, gathered in the back, for a cascade effect. She paired her dress with long white gloves, pearls and a brooch.

David Selznick presented a leather bound copy of the Gone With the Wind script to Mayor Hartsfield (who had also been mayor in 1939), along with portraits of Margaret Mitchell and Clark Gable. The portraits were unveiled by Vivien Leigh (for Gable) and Olivia de Havilland (for Mitchell).

This last picture is a screenshot from a youtube video on the festivities in Atlanta. From this angle, the side of Vivien's dress is visible and one gets a partial glimpse of the backside of her gown.

Thanks for joining me for this week's Fashion Friday post!

Boxoffice Magazine, March 1961
Radie's World by Radie Harris
The Christian Science Monitor, March 13, 1961