Can you believe that the epic motion picture “Gone With The Wind” celebrated its 75th anniversary this year? I recently attended a fabulous weekend in Atlanta, GA where they celebrated as only true GWTW fans can. There were parties, costume galas, stars, theater performances, lectures and of course, everyone’s favorite lines from the film.
I was invited to be one of the guests, not because I was in the original film, (I’m not THAT old!), but because I have played Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in three films. There are only a few original cast members left and three of them joined me for the festivities. Mickey Kuhn, who played Beau Wilkes, Patrick Curtis, who played Baby Beau, and Greg Giese who doubled as infant Beau and infant Bonnie were in attendance and shared stories of their careers. Olivia DeHavilland who played Melanie was not able to come due to health issues but she sent her best wishes from France where she now lives. Sadly missed was Anne Rutherford who passed away last year. I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting her two years ago and she was a delight. She played Scarlett’s sister Careen in the film.
We also had some amazing GWTW collectors including Chris Sullivan and costume archivist Cara Varnell who kept a packed lecture hall enthralled with their stories of how Walter Plunkett created the costumes and how they are now being restored and preserved. Artist Joe Yakovetic who has created some of the most amazing paintings from GWTW created a portrait from the film and auctioned it off at the museum.
We had some fun with the film and did a parody a la “The Carol Burnett Show” where all of us actors took on the roles of Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley and Melanie and hammed it up for an old time radio broadcast. The audience loved it and many said it was the highlight of the weekend!
On a more serious note, daytime star Judith Chapman did her one woman show “Vivien” which portrayed the tragic ups and downs of Leigh’s real life. She was magnificent and the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
On Friday night we all attended the Gone With The Wind costume bazaar ball and dinner. Most of the guests came as their favorite character and the room was decorated with crystal chandeliers, velvet drapes and flavors of the old south. Traditional music from the Civil War was played and many of the guests got up to do the Virginia Reel. It truly was a scene right out of the film.
The next morning guests had the opportunity to interact with eleven different authors who all were experts on the film and the era. Anne Edwards who wrote the bestselling biography on Vivien Leigh captivated the audience with her wit and insightful stories about the actress. I always love hearing anecdotes on what occurred behind the scenes and Anne knows all of the inside gossip.
The weekend came to an end with new friendships being made and promises to return. Everyone who lives locally was looking forward to the upcoming showing of GWTW at the FOX Theater on Peachtree St in July as a special 75th anniversary event. All in all, it was a wonderful way to travel back in time for just a few days and experience the grace and beauty of a long ago time that is now… “Gone With The Wind”.