2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
According to GWTW But Not Forgotten Facebook blogger Denise Tucker, “today is THE DAY that Selznick International Studios finalized the purchase for the screenrights to Gone With the Wind…for an unprecedented $50,000 to unknown author Margaret Mitchell.”
Anyone who has ever written a book would love to see $50,000 return on it after just a month on the market, but can you imagine, that was way back in 1936? She should have been on the top of the world. Unfortunately, from that moment on, Margaret Mitchell’s life had changed forever. For most of us it would have been a dream come true opening many doors for the future, but for her, it was too much.
I have a quote in my book from a telegram her husband, John Marsh sent to a magazine who wanted to interview her. He said she was sick in bed from all the fame. Here was this spitfire, this “red hot rebel” as Rhett Butler had called Scarlett, and she was unable to cope due to her fame. Before the book came out there were all sorts of stories about young “Peggy” as she was called–she was a fun-loving gal who was always doing something.
She had caused a scandal with a dance in public, she was taking overnight camping trips out of town with boys, riding horses, giggling with girlfriends, and then suddenly she was confined to bed…and the reason being given was that she became famous too fast.
What is it about fame that scares some people? Maybe it is that once you are out there you are fair game. People have an opinion about you and they will say what they want. Maybe there is an expectation placed on you that you feel you can’t live up to.
Throughout history, people have handled fame in different ways. Margaret Mitchell chose to try to hide from the world, seeking her solitude with her husband. One of the only interviews she did was with her best friend, whose husband ran the paper. Another one was a controlled interview where she could read it before it went to print.
Can you imagine what her life would have been had she lived in this day and age with TMZ and all of the “instant media.” There would be Tweets and blogs about her every move. The paparazzi would be stationed outside of The Piedmont Driving Club or Mary Mac’s Tearoom to get a picture of her or a quote.
Lindsay Lohan, who to many has become a joke because of all her public partying, sits in a California jail this week. In many ways, she has become a victim of becoming too famous. When you look at the two, on the surface they seem nothing alike, or at least fans of Gone With The Wind would not want to see any similarities, but actually their stories are similar.
Both had very successful youths. Lindsay starred in the Disney re-make of “The Parent Trap” and stole the heart of everyone who watched it. She was both a good actor and a very cute little girl. She seemed on the path to success.
Margaret Mitchell came from a prominent family, and enjoyed a happy childhood filled with writing and putting on plays. Then her mother died and there was a period of wildness in there where her father could not seem to get a grip on his wayward daughter. Lindsay Lohan lost a parent in a different way. Her parents began to fight and her father, who had been reportedly involved in drugs got into an altercation with his wife’s brother. He ended up going to jail and they got a restraining order from him.
So there was a period of time where Lindsay did not have the adequate supervision and stability of a traditional two-parent home. This is where their stories differ. Both became famous, but while Lindsay wanted to party out in public and take advantage of her fame, Margaret Mitchell clung to “old reliable” John Marsh and retreated behind closed doors.
Both seemed to suffer mental problems during this time (I detail Mitchell’s more in the book) but with John Marsh there to take care of her, Mitchell was able to live the rest of her life in relative peace. The ending of the book is still unwritten for Lohan, but she would have a better chance of survival if she were to find a stable figure like Marsh.
Unlike Mitchell, whose parent (mother) had died and would never be back, Lohan’s father seems to want to help. From the outside looking in, this writer sees the press trying to ridicule him for his efforts. Maybe he goes about things in a less than desirable way, but it is his love for his daughter that drives him on.
The parental relationship is so important in our lives. Mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, fathers and sons. Maybe that was why Margaret Mitchell created Scarlett’s relationship with her father Gerald. Her own father had been very serious and then pre-occupied with his wife’s death. Mitchell made a father who took the time to talk to his daughter—even if it was to scoff at her for letting Ashley “trifle with her affections.” Scarlett waited for Gerald after his horse-ride and they walked back to Tara together. He told her about the “love of land.” They looked off into the sunset together.
It is too bad that our real people, Margaret Mitchell and Lindsay Lohan did not have that inner strength that Scarlett O’Hara had. That might be a good motivational example for all of us. When things get you down, pretend you are a character in a book. Create yourself the way you want to be. If you need strength, give yourself some descriptive words and figure out from whence you draw your strength. Scarlett drew hers from the “land.” I draw mine from the Lord. We could all use a John Marsh to shelter us, and a Michael Lohan to stick up for us, but what we really need is our own motivation to not give up when faced with adversity.
If things are going tough in your life right now, don’t give up. Just keep walking one foot in front of the other. If you try something and it does not work, don’t beat yourself up and feel like a failure—try something else. Take down some curtains and make clothes out of them! Use your creativity and reach down into your heart for that strength that is in there and you can do anything. Of course there are many of Scarlett’s famous lines that are coming to mind right now—she never gave up. Neither should we.