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Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the movie “Gone with the Wind” in Atlanta

Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the movie “Gone with the Wind” in Atlanta

‘Gone with the Wind’ premiered during the Christmas Season of 1939, just 74 years after the end of the “War Between the States” and December 15, 2019, marks the 80th anniversary of that wonderful movie that begins 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.”

Atlanta Lowe’s Theatre

The clock was turned back in Atlanta, Georgia for the World Premiere of Gone with the Wind at the Loews Grand Theater on Peachtree Street.

  • The beautiful theater was sadly destroyed by fire in 1978, but many folks still remember when Hollywood came to Atlanta to celebrate that wonderful movie.

Atlanta’s own author Margaret Mitchell whose book about Scarlett O’Hara, the Southern people, and the War Between the States would be read by millions around the world. 

The motion picture has become a great classic and is the highest-grossing film in the history of movies.

Great Video of the Premiere. This is wonderful rare 8MM color footage of the Atlanta opening that was shot by my grandmother’s cousin who was from Savannah and attended the event with his wife.

The first time I saw “Gone With the Wind” was at the Isis Theatre in Aspen, Colorado. My father was on location for an MGM film called “Devil’s Doorway” and I was there with my mother and brother. I was nine and it was a wonderful month in the ski resort when it just one ski lift. I returned years later when my one-play on John Kennedy played at the Wheeler Opera House starring Andrew Stevens.

‘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, upon receiving the 1939 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her memorable 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 recognized and played melody 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, who is still living at 103 years young, as the pure, sweet Melanie Hamilton, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler?

December 15, 1939, was an icy-cold day in Atlanta but people warmed to the excitement of the world 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.

We 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 cried 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 the time to visit the Confederate Veterans at the soldier’s home and the stars toured the famous “Cyclorama” at Grant Park.
        The Cyclorama is now located at the Atlanta History Center at 130 West Paces Road NW Atlanta, Georgia.

The festivities surrounding the premiere of ‘Gone with the Wind’ included a parade down Peachtree Street with three hundred thousand folks cheering the playing of “Dixie”, waving Confederate flags and shouting Rebel Yells.

And, many 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.

Have a Dixie Day!

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