Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Interesting Facts About Gone with the Wind, Part 2

Last month, I wrote about a few interesting facts I’d found on the 1939 classic movie, Gone With the Wind. I have a few more to share this month—and these are even more interesting than last month’s batch, if I do say so myself. So let’s dive in.


Leslie Howard

British actor Leslie Howard, who played Ashley Wilkes in the movie, despised his part. He had spent his lifetime playing various roles of weak men. But in Gone with the Wind, he was supposed to be the young, dashing Ashley, who at the beginning of the film, was just twenty-one years old. He got the part when he was in his 40s, so they used makeup and lighting to evoke the look of a younger man. Leslie Howard is on record having written to his daughter about the part:


“I hate the **** part. I’m not nearly beautiful or young enough for Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.”


Mr. Howard may have hated the role—and even the movie, which he dubbed a “terrible lot of nonsense…”—but I dare say many loved him in the role and the movie.


I find it interesting that Mr. Howard’s initial plan for his life was to be a bank clerk, though the stage and screen drew him into acting, producing, and directing. He seemed to lead an idyllic life—a seemingly happy marriage and sizeable estates in Surrey, England, and in Beverly Hills, California. However, he was also a ladies’ man who had various, lengthy affairs. Only a few years after making Gone with the Wind, World War II began, and he shifted his career to making movies that supported the war effort in Britain. His efforts so enraged the Germans that it is thought they shot down the civilian plane on which he flew from Lisbon to London on June 1, 1943. He was one of seventeen fatalities.


Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel on a
postage stamp, circa 2006

Another of the iconic actors from the film was Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy. Ms. McDaniel worked as a maid during the time she was trying to gain traction in acting. She was known for her singing capabilities, as a comedian, and also as a gifted dramatic actress. Working alongside many of the Hollywood greats, Hattie McDaniel was friends with the likes of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Olivia de Havilland, and Clark Gable. When she auditioned for the part of Mammy, she was up against many, including those known and unknown in Hollywood circles. It is reported that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even wrote the producer to ask that the First Lady’s real-life maid be given the part of Mammy. So Hattie McDaniel wasn’t sure she would get the part, considering all the competition for it.


In the end, she did win the role, and received $700 a week for her efforts as Mammy. But many across the country took issue with the types of roles Hattie McDaniel starred in. She was most often cast in the maid/servant role, and at times, took parts where her character wanted “to return to the Old South.” Many criticized her for her role as Mammy (among others), including the NAACP, who took her to task for being paid such a low amount (in comparison to the other leads) for the role. Her response was, “Why should I complain about being paid $700 a week for playing a maid? If I didn’t, I’d be paid $7 a week for being one.”


In addition to this grief, Hattie McDaniel wasn’t allowed to attend the premier of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta, Georgia, due to the segregation laws there at the time. Leading man, Clark Gable threatened to skip the premier himself if Hattie wasn’t allowed to attend, but Hattie encouraged him to go—and he ultimately relented. Hattie did get to attend the Hollywood debut a couple of weeks later. She would have been excluded from the Oscars, where she was nominated for the Best Female Actress in a Supporting Role category, but the locale made an exception to allow Ms. McDaniel and her escort to attend—at a segregated table. She was one of only two black actresses to earn an Oscar in the twentieth century, Whoopi Goldberg being the other for her role in the movie Ghost.


Clark Gable

Would it surprise you to know that Clark Gable nearly walked off the set over a dispute about one particular scene? Late in the movie, Rhett dodges a blow Scarlett throws at him, causing her to tumble down the grand staircase. She later miscarries their child, and Rhett Butler cries when Melanie tells him the sad news. But Gable thought the tears would make him appear weak, and he felt strongly enough about the scene that he nearly walked out. However, director Viktor Flemming convinced him to stay by promising to shoot two versions, one where Rhett cries, and one where he turns his back in deep sorrow. Upon seeing the two versions of the scene, Clark Gable was easily convinced that the tears were the way to go, and he allowed the movie to proceed that way.


Movie Extras

One of the most sobering scenes toward the end of Gone with the Wind is the one where the dead and wounded Confederate soldiers are shown lying in the dirt after the Battle of Atlanta. Scarlett picks her way through the bodies, some of the men reaching to her for help as she searches for the doctor, who she needs to come deliver Melanie’s baby. Director Selznick demanded to have no less than 2500 actors to play the wounded and dying soldiers. There was one major problem with his demand. There were only 1500 actors on the rolls of the Screen Actors Guild. So where did he come up with the extra 1000 bodies? He purchased that many dummies to dress up in Confederate garb and place on the ground, mixed in with the live actors.


It's Your Turn: What is your favorite classic movie, and why?




Award-winning, best-selling novelist Jennifer Uhlarik has loved the western genre since she read her first Louis L’Amour novel. She penned her first western while earning a writing degree from University of Tampa. Jennifer lives near Tampa with her husband, son, and furbabies. www.jenniferuhlarik.com





Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik


A Friendship From the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family


When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. There, she finds a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek museum curator Brad Osgood’s help to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it another forgery?


Brad Osgood longs to provide his four-year-old niece, Brynn, the safe home she desperately deserves. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman.


Broken Bow is among seventy-three Plains Indians transported to Florida in 1875 for incarceration at ancient Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris and Luke Worthing dream of serving on a foreign mission field, but when the Indians reach St. Augustine, God changes their plans. However, when Sally Jo’s friendship with Broken Bow leads to false accusations, it could cost them their lives.


Can Dani discover how Broken Bow and Sally Jo’s story ends and how it impacted her father’s life?




  1. Thank you for posting today. It's fun to read about these obscure bits of trivia. I don't watch movies more than once, usually, so I can't say I have a favorite classic. My un-favorite is the original Wizard of Oz. I was scared of those monkeys, and I still don't like seeing them!!!

  2. Hi Jennifer, I enjoyed reading about GWTW. It's a favorite of mine and always will be.

  3. I enjoyed this post. My hubby is a big fan of GWTW. I read that Leslie Howard's plane was shot down because he was a spy and had intelligence to pass along. Did you notice that the original TV Superman George Reeves played one of the Tarleton twins. They sat with Scarlett each vivying for her attention. My all time favorite classic is It's A Wonderful Life. That was Jimmy Steward's first movie after taking time off from acting to serve in the army in WW II. It didn't do all that well at the box office. It was released in the summer. Latr when it appeared on TV every Thanksgiving it gain popularity.