5 March 2015

The one and only Scarlett has been right here under her nose!

In November 1936, Katherine Brown (talent scout and representative of Selznick International Pictures) set out on a trip from Maryland to Georgia in search of Gone with the Wind's heroine Scarlett O'Hara. Brown visited several university drama departments and theatre groups, and also spent a day in early December holding open auditions in Atlanta, Georgia. It was in Atlanta, where more than 500 people showed up, that Brown got company from Gone with the Wind's author Margaret Mitchell. (In a memo to David Selznick, Brown wrote: "Think it might please you to know that Margaret Mitchell joined us at ten A.M. on Friday and stayed through the entire day and we put her to bed at ten P.M." [source])

The letter for this post comes from Margaret Mitchell and is addressed to a Mrs McAloney. It was Mitchell's response to McAloney's suggestion that Mitchell herself play a role in the film. Written on 9 December 1936 when Katherine Brown had just left Atlanta, this letter is worth reading as Mitchell jokes about Brown having had the ideal Scarlett right under her nose the whole time!

Margaret Mitchell
Katherine "Kay" Brown flanked by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (l.) and Jock Whitney, David Selznick's financial backer. Brown had suggested Margaret Mitchell's novel to Selznick and had urged him to buy the film rights. Selznick, initially unimpressed with the novel, was eventually persuaded. Kay Brown and Margaret Mitchell would become friends during the making of GWTW and remained so afterwards.
Image: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)

Transcript:

Atlanta, Georgia
December 9, 1936

Dear Mrs. McAloney:

Thank you so much for the grand compliment you paid me when you wrote that you would like for me to appear in the film of "Gone With the Wind". I must admit that the idea had never occurred to me and honesty forces me to admit that my age and my type would not appeal very much to the movie directors, but I think you were more than kind to write and tell me about this. Thank you, too, for your congratulations about the book. I think I will write Miss Katharine Brown, of the Selznick Company who was giving auditions here, and tell her to hurry back- that the one and only Scarlett has been right here under her nose! She is a well-bred young woman but I am afraid she will blast me if I do this!

Cordially,

(signed)
Margaret Mitchell Marsh.

At the GWTW film premiere in Atlanta on 15 December 1939 --from left to right: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Margaret Mitchell, David O. Selznick and Olivia de Havilland.

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