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'Gone' but not forgotten
Exhibit pays tribute to a cinematic classic, 'Gone With the Wind'

Source: Daytona Beach News, April 5, 2007

Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O'Hara once said, but there aren't too many tomorrows left for the Orange County Regional History Center's feature exhibit "Gone With the Wind."

Since opening Feb. 1 (Clark Gable's birthday, by the way), the "Gone With the Wind" exhibit has brought record-breaking crowds to the history center.

The idea behind bringing the exhibit to Orlando, however, happened purely by accident as history center officials were putting together plans for a Civil War exhibit.

"We were looking for a collection for the museum two years ago," said Cynthia Cardona Melendez, the center's curator of collections. "Doing research we came across the (private) collection of Chris Sullivan at the Marietta 'Gone With the Wind' Museum in Georgia."

Sullivan, a doctor in Akron, Ohio, has been a collector of "Gone With the Wind" memorabilia for more than 20 years. He has mounted several exhibitions of his collections and now has a permanent home at the Marietta museum.

"It was a perfect mix for the Civil War exhibit, mixing hard history with social history," Cardona Melendez said.

The exhibit holds some of the rarest of "Gone With the Wind" items, including five pages of Vivien Leigh's contract to play Scarlett O'Hara, three programs from the film's Atlanta premiere as well as an invitation to author Margaret Mitchell's funeral.

But the centerpieces just might be the three replica Scarlett O'Hara gowns, part of the Selznick Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

The original gowns remain at the Ransom Center, too fragile to make the journey. However, these replicas are no letdowns. The gowns were created by design students at the Ransom Center and cost about $10,000.

Just across the hall lies "The Civil War: America Divided," which runs through May 6.

The highlight of this exhibit is the table and inkwell that Ulysses S. Grant used to compose the terms of and sign Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House.

Since these pieces are part of two different collections, their inclusion in a single exhibition is a rare occasion, history center officials said.

"The Appomattox table and inkwell have never traveled together before," says Megan McKenna, marketing and communications coordinator. "The table actually travels with its own curator."

The exhibit also includes the mahogany table where Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, a draft of the document itself and the only wartime document signed by both Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

Scarlett's little sister remains proud of 'Gone' role

Ann Rutherford, who portrayed Scarlett O'Hara's younger sister, Carreen, is one of the last living cast members of "Gone With the Wind." She and co-star Mickey Kuhn attended the opening of the exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center earlier this year.

Throughout her career, she has starred with Errol Flynn, Laurence Olivier, Mickey Rooney and John Wayne. She was even Gene Autry's first leading lady.

At 90 years old, Rutherford is "every bit the star," said Sherry Meadows Lewis, director of marketing and public relations for the history center.

She talked with The News-Journal's Tom Iacuzio about almost not being cast in "Gone With the Wind," breakfast with Margaret Mitchell and her connection to "Batman."

Q. How did you come to play Carreen O'Hara?

I got a call to go to L.B. Mayer (at his office at MGM Studios). They kept me waiting just to make me nervous. I finally got called in and there he is sitting on his throne. His chair was elevated on a platform because he wasn't a very tall man.

He said, "Ann. I wanted to tell you myself. I know you wanted to be in this picture and I'm sorry but I can't let you do that." Well I started to cry. I was starring in many pictures before this and he said that he couldn't put my name at the top of the bill because the part was so small.

I said, "I don't care how small it is, I'll carry a tray if I have to."

Q. What do you remember most about the production of the film?

The film is as fresh today as though it had been made yesterday.

David Selznick (the film's producer) really put his life into the movie. And he was a great inventor. If it didn't exist, he would create it.

To film the burning of Atlanta scene, he asked Mayer if he could get rid of all the old sets on the property for him. Selznick built these huge bleachers around this fire and threw a party. I wasn't in the movie at the time, my date brought me. David's brother Myron brought Vivien Leigh to the party. He took her over to David and said "David, this is your Scarlett."

Q. Margaret Mitchell wrote the novel. Was she happy with the film?

Margaret gave a breakfast at her home. She told me "I must apologize to David Selznick. I can't tell him how wonderful Gable was. He wasn't at all what I wanted."

Later on, Margaret and Clark went missing. We searched for them and finally found them having a conversation in the bathroom. There she was sitting on the edge of the tub. Clark was sitting on the john with the lid down.

Q. Whatever happened to many of her other works?

In 1953, Cammie King and I went back to Atlanta for the anniversary of the film.

(John) Marsh, who was Margaret Mitchell's husband, invited us to his home to see this mini-museum he had set up to the film and book. He had tons of these foreign language interpretations of "Gone with the Wind." I asked him where her other finished works were and he said matter-of-factly, "I burned them right there in that fireplace."

He said Margaret would have rather them burn than for anyone to see her unpolished work. A few years ago, Life Magazine uncovered a few unpublished works of hers. So there Mr. Marsh.

Q. You starred with Danny Kaye in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." What was he like?

Danny was a glorious Chinese chef. That was his greatest joy in life. Also, every time he saw me, he would say "Where's Queenie?" Queenie was this little dog who would always nip at his heels every time he was around.

Q. I read that there was some controversy surrounding Hattie McDaniel and all of the premiere events. Is this true?

There was an Academy dinner at the Ambassador Hotel for the film's premiere.

Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, wasn't even invited. Gable was horrified that she wasn't invited. He said "Unless she is allowed to go, I'm not going either."

A few years ago, the (U.S. Postal Service) honored Hattie with a 39-cent stamp. I'm so proud that in my lifetime I could see that transition.

Q. You aren't the only member of your family to contribute to the entertainment world.

My husband, Bill (Dozier), produced the "Batman" (television) series. He didn't even know what Batman was.

When they told him it was a comic book, he read everyone he could get his hands on. We would take these trips and he would read them the whole time. I would get these looks from stewardesses like "Oh, you poor woman."

Q. Is it true that you turned down the role of Rose Calvert in "Titanic?"

They were corralling anyone they could get their hands on in my age bracket. They tried to get me to read for it. They said we're filming on this wonderful location in Mexico. I said, "Are you out of your mind? You can't even drink the ice in Mexico." They didn't lure me at all.

Q. What has the ongoing legacy of "Gone with the Wind" meant to you personally?

In 1939, if anyone had told me that 68 years later I'd still be talking about "Gone with the Wind," I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised. It has emerged as an entity all it's own.

The film has really brightened my declining years. Clark is gone. Vivian is gone. I guess you can't kill me with a stick.

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