2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
Gone With The Wind producer David O. Selznick was a workaholic and involved in every aspect of the movie he was producing. He wanted it to be perfect, so instead of letting the scriptwriter write it, he got involved. Instead of letting the costume people dress the actors, he got involved. According to his long-time executive assistant, Marcella Rabwin, even though Sidney Howard got the screen credit for writing, Selznick wrote over half of the script himself!
Marcella Rabwin, a beauty who was actually considered for a short while as a candidate to play Scarlett lived the life of a real Hollywood insider. She was best friends with Lucille Ball and her family. In fact, Desi Arnaz was the godfather of one of Rabwin’s grandsons. She had friendships with Carole Lombard, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and of course the two stars of Gone With The Wind, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland.
When Selznick fired George Cukor as the first director, it was Marcella who was the sounding board as the two female stars (dressed appropriately in their widow’s weeds for a scene) ranted, raved, and cried in her office. Though she was a friend to Olivia and Vivien, she was also fiercely loyal to Selznick who she felt was a genius. She was so “in” with him that she was allowed to take some of the costumes from the movie out for a party. There is a picture of this episode in the book, The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story Of Margaret Mitchell’s Classic Novel, Gone With The Wind.
“Lucille, Marc and I were invited to a Civil War party in 1940,” she said in her memoir, Yes Mr. Selznick, “(It was) shortly after the completion of Gone With The Wind, so it fell on me to provide four antebellum costumes from my studio’s wardrobe department.
“I outfitted the two men (her husband, Dr. Marcus Rabwin and Lucy’s husband, Desi Arnaz) with Gable’s finery, provided a lovely pink satin hoop skirt for Lucille, and took for myself Scarlett’s famous green sprig muslin which she had worn in the Barbecue Scene a the Wilkes plantation in the picture. We were a smashing quartet, of course.
“Very authentic in Walter Plunkett’s designs, the party itself was magnificent. There was music throughout the cocktail hour in the Robert Riskins’ huge garden–white camellias tied onto the trees to simulate magnolias. Guests were served a buffet of luscious Southern dishes on a long table…”
Yes Mr. Selznick was an interesting book because it was full of her stories with all of the movie stars. It was also really interesting to be able to interview her two sons, Mark and Paul Rabwin. There were times this writer could hardly stay on track and interview them about Gone With The Wind because their own lives and childhood stories were so interesting. They had birthday parties with kids whose fathers were people like Danny Kaye. Their dad, Dr. Marcus Rabwin was a very famous surgeon in Hollywood.
At one time, Marcella Rabwin almost adopted John Lennon. Yes, you read that right. And her husband Marcus was the one who talked Frank Gumm and his wife out of abortion when they were low on funds and became pregnant with their third daughter. It was a good thing too, because that daughter grew up to be Judy Garland! Of course Mark and Paul grew up with Liza Minelli.
Mark owns a business–a coffee store in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Paul is a Hollywood producer who works for Twentieth Century FOX and has been involved as a producer for many big named television shows. He is looking at his schedule to see if he will be available to come to St. Louis for the “Gateway To The Wind” Gone With The Wind Festival in November.
By Sally Tippett Rains, author of The Making Of A Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell’s Classic Novel, Gone With The Wind. (www.GWTWbook.com) Follow us on Facebook at GWTWbook.com and Twitter at GWTWbookSally