GROUCHO AS RHETT? AND OTHER FACTS
Source: THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER
Date: Friday, April 21, 1989
Author: DOLORES BARCLAY, Associated Press
Rhett Butler with a wide, painted-on mustache, meandering eyebrows,
eyeglasses and a cigar?
Well, if author Margaret Mitchell had her way and had been really serious
about it, it would have been Groucho Marx who swept Miss Scarlett up all those stairs for a
taste of Southern lust instead of Clark Gable.
With all the Hollywood hype to recruit stars for ``Gone With the Wind,``
Mitchell, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller, kept her distance because she
feared fellow Southerners would blame her if the movie didn`t turn out well. She didn`t want to
help write the script, wouldn`t participate in the casting search for stars and finally coughed up her own candidate: the
As one of the most popular movies of all time, ``Gone With the Wind`` is
awash with such nuggets.
Did you know, for example, that the winner of eight Academy Awards was
panned by some critics?
``A major event in the history of the industry but only a minor event in
motion picture art. There are moments when the two categories meet on good
terms, but the long stretches between are filled with mere spectacular
efficiency,`` wrote Franz Hoellering in The Nation.
``Shakespeare`s The Taming of the Shrew` seems to have gotten mixed up with one of the novels of
Ethel M. Dell,`` wrote James Agate.
Here are some other ``Gone With the Wind`` factoids:
* Two soundtracks were released with the 1939 film - one for domestic
distribution and one for overseas. In the international version there was
strident marching music. The domestic version had a sweet version of
* With all the Oscars the movie copped, there was one significant omission: Clark Gable. He lost
out to Robert Donat for his performance in ``Goodbye, Mr. Chips.``
* Hattie McDaniel, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role as the maid
Mammy, kept her long, manicured fingernails in the movie as her own way of protesting the
treatment of blacks in Hollywood. She was
not, she wanted the world to know, a maid. She was the first black actor ever nominated for an
* Vivien Leigh refused to have any embraces with Gable when they first
began shooting the movie because of a foul mouth odor caused by his dentures. He eventually
remedied the problem.
* Cammie King Colon, who portrayed Bonnie Blue, Rhett and Scarlett`s little girl, couldn`t stop
blinking while playing dead so a mask of her face was made and used over her real face. Also, it
wasn`t the actress who fell from the
pony but a midget. And a blue-eyed boy played Bonnie Blue as an infant.
* Scenes of the Tara plantation and the burning of Atlanta were filmed at
the back lot of Laird Studios in downtown Culver City, Calif.
* Walter Plunkett, the movie`s costume designer, was given a box of thorns
by a woman in Charleston, because during the Civil War there were no metal
pins and clothing was held together by the thorns.
* The structure that collapses in flames during the burning of Atlanta had
also been the Temple of Jerusalem in ``King of Kings`` and the native village in ``King Kong.``
* George Cukor began as director of the movie but Clark Gable complained
that he favored the actresses. Sam Wood and William Cameron Menzies also had
directorial stints on the epic. But it was Victor Fleming who ultimately got
the main credit and the Oscar for best director.
* The film rights for the blockbuster were purchased for a mere $50,000 in
* Paulette Goddard was Selznick`s first choice for Scarlett. But he feared
her attachment to Charlie Chaplin would be bad publicity. She and Chaplin
* Leslie Howard agreed to appear in the movie as the wimpy Ashley Wilkes
only after Selznick agreed to make him associate producer on ``Intermezzo,``
Ingrid Bergman`s first Hollywood film.
* The Ocala, Fla., chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy
protested the casting of Vivien Leigh, who was British, as the Southern
* Irving Thalberg, who directed MGM production under studio head Louis B.
Mayer, didn`t think ``Gone With the Wind`` stood a chance at the box office.
Said he to Mayer, ``Forget it, Louis. No Civil War picture ever made a
nickel.`` The movie went on to break box-office records its first year by
grossing $14 million.