Ranked the sixth-greatest movie of all time by the American Film Institute in 2007, “Gone With The Wind” is truly the top classic film from Hollywood’s Golden Age. With a star-laden cast, we all have our favorite scenes as well as quotes from the film. But there remains much about this wonderful movie that has been forgotten over the years…until now. I have selected some of the more interesting facts which I hope will leave you saying, “Wow! I never knew that!”. Enjoy these little known facts from MGM’s classic film “Gone With The Wind”.
Casting The Roles – Scarlett
1- Over 1,400 actresses were interviewed for the coveted role of Scarlet O’Hara.
2- The one actress whom all of Hollywood felt had the role (including herself) was Paulette Goddard, live-in girlfriend of comedian Charlie Chaplin. When the press leaked the information they were “living in sin”, Paulette was quickly dropped from consideration.
3- British actress Vivian was finally selected to play Scarlett. There was, however, a slight problem…she was also living with her lover,fellow British actor Laurence Olivier out-of-wedlock in England! Fearing the loss of a 2nd “Scarlet”, the studio did not allow the two to see each other during any of the filming, thus eliminating any scandal since the American public was not familiar with her as they had been with Goddard.
4- Vivian Leigh’s hands were usually filmed while she wore gloves. This was due to the fact her hands were very large and disproportional in regard to her petite frame (5’3″).
5- Both Vivian Leigh and Scarlett O’Hara’s parents were French and Irish.
6- During filming, Vivian Leigh smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day. Clark Gable smoked only 3 packs a day.
Casting The Roles – Rhett
1- Actor Gary Cooper was offered the role of Rhett Butler but turned it down. He was quoted with saying, “Gone with the Wind (1939) is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history,” and, “I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.”
2- The only reason Clark Gable accepted the role of Rhett Butler was tied into a divorce! Gable felt the general public had built up the role in their minds to the extent that no man could possible meet their expectations. He even called the role “career suicide”. It was during this time Gable had fallen in love with Carole Lombard but was still married to his 2nd wife who demanded a whopping $500,000 settlement (a fortune during the Depression!) for a divorce. MGM agreed to give him the added financial help he needed to obtain his divorce that he very reluctantly agreed to be loaned to Selznick Pictures and take the role of Rhett.
3- Clark Gable wore false teeth, as well as having his large ears surgically altered. Both operations were done in 1933. He had a chronic case of Halitosis (bad breath) the rest of his life. It was so severe that many actresses would gag during kissing scenes!
Other Casting Notes
1- Judy Garland had been heavily considered for Scarlett’s younger sister Carreen, but she was tied up with a previous commitment…”The Wizard Of Oz”.
2- There were 2,400 extras and bit players in “GWTW”.
3- 2,500 costumes were used by the female cast in the film’s making.
4- Barbara O’Neil , the actress who played Scarlett’s mother was only 28 years old when she played the role. Vivian Leigh was 25 years old.
5- Actress Lillian Gish was originally approached to play Scarlett’s mother.
6- Billie Burke (remember her as Glenda, the Good Witch in “Wizard of Oz”?) was first considered to play Aunt Pitypat. She did not get the role because she was considered “too young”. She was 54. The role went to Laura Hope Crews. She was 59 years old.
7- Did the voice of the reminiscent soldier in the Atlanta hospital scene talking about his “brother Jeff” sound familiar? It should. It was the voice of Cliff Edwards. . He was the voice of Jiminy Cricket from Disney’s animated movie “Pinocchio”.
8- The horse Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O’Hara) rode throughout the movie, including the infamous jumping scene went on to be one of the most famous horses of movie history…Silver of “The Lone Ranger” (1949) fame.
9- The actor who played Aunt Pittypat’s servant, Uncle Peter was a a regular on popular 1940’s radio star Jack Benny’s show…he was gravel-voiced Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson .
10- Melanie Hamilton was originally the intended heroine when Margaret Mitchell began writing “GWTW”. It was while she was writing that Scarlett began to emerge as the strong-willed heroine.
11- The original name of Margaret Mitchell ‘s book was “Tomorrow Is Another Day” with the female heroine being named Pansy O’Hara.
And Ending On An Odd Note…
In 1999, singer Michael Jackson paid $1.5 million for the 1939 Oscar for Best Film…It was for “Gone With The Wind”.