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CIVIL WAR OP-ED: 73rd Anniversary of 'Gone with the Wind' Premiere Nears
Do you remember when a movie premiere was a red carpet affair of excitement and you could take your family to the movies without worrying about the language or sexual content of the film?
“News that Ann Rutherford, who played Scarlett O’Hara’s little sister, died Monday brought tears to the eyes of Connie Sutherland, director of Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum”— June 13, 2012, the Marietta Daily Journal, Marietta, Georgia.
Ann Rutherford, who died on Monday, June 11, 2012, was a friend of Marietta and was present for the 70th Anniversary re-premiere of Gone with the Wind at Marietta, Georgia’s beautifully restored Strand Theater.
Atlanta loved Ann Rutherford!
Mrs. Rutherford was also present at the premiere of Gone with the Wind, arriving in Atlanta, Georgia at 10 AM on December 13, 1939 at the Terminal Railroad Station and stayed at the Georgina Terrace Hotel as did most of the stars. The railroad station was torn down in 1972 but the building that was the hotel still remains.
Two years before the United States entered World War II; there was great jubilation throughout America, especially in the Southland, in anticipation of the world premiere of…..
"Gone with the Wind" during the Christmas Season of 1939, just 74 years after the end of the "War Between the States" and Saturday, December 15, 2012 marks the 73rdanniversary of that classic movie which opens with:
"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind."
"Gone with the Wind" won 8 Oscars for 1939, including Best Picture, and;
Hattie McDaniel, the first Black American to win an Academy Award, expressed her heart-felt pride with tears of joy, when she was presented the 1939 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her unforgettable role as "Mammy."
Victor Fleming won the Academy Award for Best Director and even though Max Steiner did not receive an award for his excellent music score, the "Gone with the Wind" theme song has become the most recognizable and played tune in the world.
Vivien Leigh, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role, humbly and eloquently summed her appreciation by thanking Producer David O. Selznick.
And, who can forget Olivia De Havilland as the pure-sweet Melanie Hamilton, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler.
Atlanta’s Mayor William B. Hartsfield proclaimed a three-day festival for this grand event and encouraged all women to wear hoop skirts and men to wear Old South attire.
Friday, December 15, 1939, has been described as an icy-cold day in Atlanta but folks warmed to the excitement of the premiere of "Gone with the Wind"--The Selznick International Pictures "Technicolor" Production of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Release of Margaret Mitchell’s novel about the Old South at the Loews Grand Theater.
Do you remember Thomas Mitchell who played (Gerald O’Hara) telling daughter Scarlett:
"Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that Tara, that land doesn't mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts."
And, we all wept when Bonnie Blue Butler, the daughter of Rhett and Scarlett—played by Cammie King, was killed in a pony accident.
Anne Rutherford, who played Scarlett’s sister Carreen, took time to visit the Confederate Veterans at the soldier’s home and the stars toured the famous "Cyclorama" at nearby Grant Park.
The festivities surrounding the premiere of Gone with the Wind included a parade down Peachtree Street with over three-hundred thousand people cheering the playing of "Dixie," waving Confederate flags and shouting Rebel Yells.
Many people also witnessed the lighting of the "Eternal Flame of the Confederacy," an 1855 gas lamp that survived the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. The lamp remained for many years on the northeast corner of Whitehall and Alabama Streets. Mrs. Thomas J. Ripley, President of Atlanta Chapter No. 18 United Daughters of the Confederacy, re-lit the great light with Mr. T. Guy Woolford, Commandant of the Old Guard by her side.
April 2013 is Confederate History Month. Read more at: http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth
Johnson is a speaker, writer of Historical Essays, author of book “When America Stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the Confederate History and Heritage Month Committee for the Sons of Confederate Veterans:http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth.