Showing posts with label Olivia de Havilland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olivia de Havilland. 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, 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!

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










Friday, February 12, 2016

Fashion Friday #9: The 12th Annual Academy Awards

The 12th Annual Academy Awards were held on February 29th, 1940. A who's who of Hollywood gathered together to watch their peers receive recognition for their work in 1939. Bob Hope played Master of Ceremonies for the night, which saw Gone With the Wind sweep the awards.

Vivien Leigh arrived for the ceremony with David Selznick, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland and Jock Whitney. Both Vivien and Olivia chose to wear ermine coats over their Oscar dresses: Vivien went with a floor length coat, while Olivia chose to wear a shorter, cropped version.


Beneath her fur coat, Vivien wore a stunning, floor-length gown by Irene. Irene Lentz was a fashion designer, whose salon was located inside the Bullocks-Wilshire department store. In addition to designing costumes for the movies, Irene also designed for private customers, which included many of Hollywood's top stars such as Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert and Loretta Young.


In the fall of 1939, Irene held a fashion show for one of her collections. The gown Vivien chose for the Oscars was listed as item number fourteen with the simple description of red poppy evening gown. The green printed chiffon dress featured the aforementioned red poppies with hints of yellow, gray and blue mixed into the gown's color palette. Vivien won the Best Actress Oscar for her role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind.


Vivien's chiffon gown featured spaghetti straps, side cut-outs and a low-cut bodice. Her topaz pendant, set in yellow gold, hung from a slender chain around her neck, drawing attention to the deep V of the dress. Vivien chose costume jewelry to complete her look, a bracelet and large ring, to match the tone set by the pendant.


Olivia de Havilland, a nominee for Best Supporting Actress, wore a cropped ermine jacket over her floor-length evening gown. Unfortunately, as with the Atlanta and Hollywood Gone With the Wind premieres, I wasn't able to find a full length image of Olivia in her gown.


Laurence Olivier gives her a helping hand as she makes her way up the stairs and we can see the bottom half of her dress. Olivia's gown featured alternating bands of black lace and black taffeta, from her bow-topped bodice to the bottom of her wide skirt.


Hattie McDaniel arrived wearing a short fur jacket over her gown, which she highlighted with a gorgeous corsage of gardenias. She chose to wear a blue crepe gown for the night's festivities, which featured a long-sleeved, cropped jacket over her shirred bodice, with a cummerbund setting off the long skirt. Gardenias and a headband adorned her hair as she took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.




Joan Bennett arrived in a white crepe evening gown on the arm of her new husband, Walter Wanger, a nominee for Outstanding Production for the movie, Stagecoach. Joan's long-sleeved gown featured a plunging neckline, which she highlighted with an emerald brooch set within a circle of diamonds and a pearl necklace. One of the biggest fashion trends of 1940, for ladies, were turbans. Joan embraced this latest fad by elegantly swathing her hair in white crepe, which matched her dress.


Though Bette Davis had already heard she wasn't going to be the night's winner for Best Actress for Dark Victory, she still showed up dressed to kill. Her escort for the night was her cousin, Johnny Favour.




Bette's black, sheer net dress came with long-sleeves and a floor-length, full skirt. Her fitted bodice featured multi-colored sequins in a very decorative motif. Her dress may have been designed by Orry-Kelly,  the fashion designer for Warner Brothers.


Hedy Lamarr arrived with her husband, Gene Markey, in a long, black wool, evening cape, gorgeously studded with sequins across the shoulders, achieving a capelet effect.



The above studio portrait gives us a close-up of Hedy in her black cape, showing off the beaded design. Beneath the cape, Hedy wore a pinkish colored, long-sleeved satin gown with a fitted bodice. The dress featured a design of black velvet applique and front buttons.


Judy Garland took home a special Oscar for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year and received a miniature statuette. I love the clasps on her fur jacket.


She wore a short-sleeved dress of blue chiffon, with a long skirt ribbed with bands of matching blue lace. She completed her look with elbow-length gloves and a corsage. Judy performed what many people think of today as her feature song, Over the Rainbow, from The Wizard of Oz.


Norma Shearer's strapless gown was designed by Balenciaga, which according to one source, had been specifically made for her while on a trip to Paris. The princess cut dress of blue satin featured an embroidered design from top to bottom and a corseted waist. Norma's jewelry consisted of a diamond necklace and several diamond bracelets on her left wrist. Her date for the evening was the handsome George Raft.


What's fun to note is that this is the same evening dress she wore just two months earlier to the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind. Go, Norma! I can't imagine any of today's actresses wearing the same dress to two high profile events within months of each other.

Norma Shearer and George Raft at the GWTW premiere.

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



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fashion Friday #7: Gone With The Wind in Atlanta

In December, 1939, Atlanta fell under the spell of David Selznick's masterpiece, Gone With the Wind. The mayor of Atlanta, William Hartsfield, declared a three day holiday to celebrate the movie's premiere at Loew's Grand Theater on Peachtree Street. Three of the main cast members flew in from Hollywood, which included Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland. Other celebrities attending the premiere included David Selznick, along with his wife Irene Selznick, Laurence Olivier, Carole Lombard and Claudette Colbert.

On Thursday, December 14th, Vivien and other cast members attended the Junior League Ball. Vivien's dress for this event was specifically designed for her by Walter Plunkett, the costume designer for Gone With the Wind.



Vivien's black evening gown was made from lyons velvet, a stiff and thick velvet fabric fashionable at the time of the premiere. The dress featured a fitted bodice, trimmed in white ermine, and sleeves capped off by ermine and ermine tails. From Vivien's waist, the dress flared out into a wide, full skirt. Willard George designed her cape, made from ermine and their black tails. Paul Flato designed Vivien's jewelry for the evening, which featured a diamond butterfly clip for her hair, a diamond & ruby bracelet and a diamond bow ring.


Below is a formal, publicity photo of Vivien in her Junior League Ball gown, which really showcases the skirt.


Also in attendance at the Junior League Ball was Laura Hope Crews, better known as Aunt Pittypat, and Ona Munson, the film's Belle Watling. The two ladies came dressed as their characters from Gone With the Wind.

Laura Hope Crews wore a gray taffeta [dress] with grey bengaline shoes, black silk stockings, blue net scarf, blue mittens, blue lace and ivory fan and a gray lace and blue velvet cap. To complete her outfit, Miss Crews topped her natural hair with Aunt Pittypat's blonde wig. The mittens referenced are the fingerless gloves Laura is seen wearing in the photo below.


Ona Munson also wore her Belle Watling red wig, which complemented her outfit made from cerise taffeta ...[with] silken folds under the skirt. Her four petticoats were embroidered eyelet, hooped and plain. She wore pantalets and a bustle. Her accessories were roses, gold bells, a purple net scarf and a pair of bell earrings. Bell earrings for Belle!


Clark Gable and Carole Lombard also attended the Junior League ball. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a description of Carole's outfit. They are pictured with Atlanta Mayor William Hartsfield and his daughter, Mildred, who was lucky enough to sit next to Gable for the evening's festivities. Mildred's dress was heavy yellow moire taffeta striped with gray, featuring a square neck and long sleeves. Both the neck and sleeves were trimmed with old cream lace. The dress had a tiny waist and full skirt worn over crinoline petticoats. She wore an old gold necklace with pendants and gold drop earrings. In  her hair she wore yellow ribbon bows and on her shoulder she wore yellow orchids with red throats. Black lace mittens, black velvet bag and cape completed her costume. Wow, she's got a lot going on! 


The next evening, December 15th, saw the premiere of Gone With the Wind. Once again, Vivien chose to wear a Walter Plunkett gown. This lamé gown was a brilliant gold, perfectly setting off Vivien's dark brown hair with its hints of reddishness. As with her Junior League gown, publicity portraits were taken of Vivien in her gold dress.


The gown is of gold lame, draped in Oriental fashion, with harem hem line and draped girdle accenting the small waist. Girdle and the short sleeves are quilted in rose pattern and studded with gold sequins. Vivien's jewelry featured an acorn and leaf design, fashioned from topaz and diamonds. The matching necklace and bracelet resided quite nicely in its gold setting as did the princess cut topaz ring on her pinkie.




Vivien's unofficial date for the evening was the sharply dressed Laurence Olivier, recent star of "Wuthering Heights." Olivier's tuxedo was made from a dark coloured wool, with stripes only a shade lighter than the suit. The top coat featured tails, pointed lapels and a left breast pocket. The matching pants came with a five button fly.  His tux was specially created for him by Roche and Pollock in September, 1939. 


Also, in attendance at the premiere, was author Margaret Mitchell. She wore a fashionable pink full skirted tulle gown, a full length white velvet evening coat, a pink bow in her hair, and a camellia corsage given to her by the producers. (Atlanta History Center) Below is a photo of Mitchell's full length coat, along with a picture of her wearing the coat while speaking to the crowds. One can get a slight glimpse of her long skirt as the pink tulle dress plays peek-a-boo with her evening coat.


Mitchell's dress featured a fitted bodice, with off the shoulder sleeves. She's pictured seated, in between Jock Whitney (financial backer of GWTW) and her husband, John Marsh (wearing the glasses).


Carole Lombard, aka Mrs. Clark Gable, also attended the premiere, on the arm of her man. She wore a medieval cape of blush satin with a train, [which matched her gown]. Blush is in the pink-color family. I love Carole's netted hood. It must've been quite striking against her blonde hair.




Here's Ona Munson as she arrives at the premiere and poses for photographers. Ona's wearing a dark, green velvet, evening gown with a fur jacket and corsage.


The two ladies, in antebellum costumes, next to Ona are twin sisters, Virginia and Charlotte Starr. They were two of the thirty girls selected to act as hostesses for Gone With the Wind's premiere.


Finally, here's Olivia de Havilland, arriving at the theater with Jock Whitney, whom she also sat next to throughout the show. Olivia wore a black velvet evening gown with an ermine fur jacket. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a full length photo of Olivia in her evening gown.



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


Unless otherwise noted, all italicized dress descriptions are from Herb Bridges.