2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
Saturday Sept. 10, author Sally Tippett Rains will be at the Gone With The Wind Book and Movie Museum in Branson, Missouri to talk about her book, “The Making of a Masterpiece: The True Story of Gone With The Wind” published by Global Book Publishers of Beverly Hills, California and to show her documentary of the same name.
Rains interviewed actress Ann Rutherford, who she formed a friendship with and talks to occasionally on the telephone. The most recent conversation found Rutherford busy as ever, but she says she gets tired more easily so she tries to put more time between her travels so she can rest up for the next one.
She had wanted to travel to Marshfield, Missouri this past spring for an event with her step-daughter Deborah Dozier Potter, but was unable to make it due to other travels and needing to rest and re-group.
Rutherford, who starred as Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy films with Judy Garland and Andy Rooney as well as many television shows and movies including Gone With The Wind has an interesting situation regarding her step-daughter Deborah Dozier Potter, who she helped raise is the niece of Olivia de Havilland, who starred as Melanie in Gone With The Wind (GWTW).
Deborah’s mother is Joan Fontaine, de Havilland’s sister, and these two sisters have not had a relationship for years. Rutherford, however has a good relationship with all three of the—the daugher, the mother, and the aunt.
Rutherford’s character in Gone With The Wind, Careen O’Hara ended up living in the same house with de Havilland’s character, Melanie when Melanie and Ashley moved into Tara, so they were connected both on-screen and off-screen in the family way.
Here’s how it happened in real life:
William “Bill” Dozier was married to Joan Fontaine, the sister of Olivia de Havilland from 1946-51 and that marriage produced a daughter, Deborah Leslie Dozier, who was born on November 5, 1948.
In 1953, Dozier married Ann Rutherford who played Careen O’Hara, one of Scarlett O’Hara’s sister in GWTW. That marriage was a solid and happy marriage for Dozier and Rutherford who stayed married for almost 40 years until his death in 1991 at age 83.
“We did so many fun things,” said Rutherford. “We traveled to Europe. In fact one time, after Gone With the Wind, we met up with David Selznick on a trip.”
Rutherford still lives in the Hollywood style house she shared with Dozier and his daughter. Deborah was only five-years-old when Rutherford came into her life and she lived with them.
Old age runs in their extended family as Joan Fontaine is still alive at age 93, living in California and Olivia, at age 95 spends most of her time at her Paris, France home. These two treasures from the Golden Age of Hollywood are beloved by many fans due to the many movies they appeared in but they do not share memories of the good old days with each other.
Ann Rutherford, on the other hand, also in her nineties, loving her life and everyone in it. She cherishes her memories with Dozier and looks forward to visits with Deborah, and having lunch or playing cards with friends who include recognizable names from television or the movies.
One of her friends is Betty Lynn who played Thelma Lou, the love interest for Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show. In recent years she has traveled to Atlanta, Ohio, and North Carolina to participate in Gone With The Wind based events.
Deborah, whose mother Joan Fontaine’s maiden name was Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, had a life surrounded by show business. (Fontaine took the stage name her mother had taken before her when she followed her into the acting career.) She was involved in “the family business” for a while but chose not to live that lifestyle later on.
Just as Rutherford played Scarlett’s little sister in Gone With The Wind, in real life Joan Fontaine is Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister. Scarlett did not have a good relationship with her sisters and it was the same and worse for the de Havilland sisters. They have had a famous estrangement for years.
According to Fontaine biographer Charles Higham , Fontaine also had an estranged relationship with Deborah, and it was attributed to her possibly discovering Deborah had a relationship with her aunt Olivia.
Highham, who wrote Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine and has written biographies on Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Lucille Ball, delved into the feud between the two sisters, which he says has been an estrangement since the mid 1970’s.
Rutherford’s step-daughter, Deborah Dozier Potter is the author of the book Let Buster Lead, which tells of her struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after falling off a horse.
Potter was honored at this year’s Marshfield, Mo. Cherry Blossom Festival with the Ella Dickey Literacy Award and she traveled to Missouri to accept it.
“I would have loved to attend,” Rutherford said at the time, “But with the Anniversary of Gone With The Wind I just had too much traveling.”
At the same event Greg Giese, who played the son of the character Olivia de Havilland played in GWTW was awarded the Hubbell Award and a star on the “Missouri Walk of Fame” for preserving history, something he does every time he travels to an event to remember Gone With The Wind. Giese played the infant Beau Wilkes the son of de Havilland’s Melanie Wilkes.
It is amazing how Rutherford’s famous quote of “Gone With The Wind has made our ‘silver’ years platinum” has rang true for many involved in the move who are still alive.
Last month, GWTW collector Novella Perrin opened the Gone With The Wind Book and Movie Museum in Branson, Mo., right there on Main Street in Old Branson. She welcomed a couple of actors who played children in the movie.
Fans come from all over the country to attend the various venues. This November there will be an event called “It’s Windie in Kansas” held in Olathe, Kansas which will features and authors and speakers talking about Gone With The Wind and focusing on Hattie McDaniel who was from Kansas and played Mammy. For information on “It’s Windie in Kansas” go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/Its-Windie-in-Kansas/164750116917229