2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
Olivia de Havilland continues to live in Paris, France and she is kept advised about various Gone With the Wind news. This author is fortunate to be in touch with her and was actually the one who broke the news to her about the death of Alicia Rhett.
“I did not know that Alicia had left this world – nor did I know much about her life in Charleston,” said Miss de Havilland. “I am grateful to you, not only for imparting the sad news of Alicia’s passing, but also for your enlightening article about her. It gives the reader such a warm, lively, and, engaging portrait of this charming and gifted woman who, though more widely known as India Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, was one of South Carolina’s most celebrated painters.”
Our writer friend and Charleston, South Carolina resident W. Thomas McQueeney, who was friends with Alicia Rhett and wrote about her in his book, Charleston (SC) (The History Press) attended her funeral on Jan. 8th in the chapel at Bishop Gadsden, senior center where she lived out her later years.
As happens with many senior citizens – many popular thriving people in their youth– as they live late into their eighties or nineties many of their friends and loved ones have passed on before them.
“It was sad,” he said. “Only about 70-80 people attended, mostly from the Bishop Gadsden Home. She outlived all of her close friends with the exception of Olivia de Havilland.”
He said the service was just under 20 minutes long and there was no eulogy; which he said in retrospect he wished he would have known that as he would have liked to have given a eulogy. Tommy McQueeney also took a picture just for our readers, because as he said, “Awkward as it was, I thought you would like to ‘be there’”.
Looking back on Alicia’s life he kept coming back to what he felt was the incorrect perception about her.
“Contrary to what has been incorrectly intimated about her acting career, she cherished the relationships. She was not a recluse in any sense. Alicia always greeted my visits with a genuine smile and a sparkle in her beautiful eyes. She loved company. People simply loved her. She spoke in glowing terms about Leslie Howard, Ann Rutherford, Olivia de Havilland, Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable. She corresponded with Olivia de Havilland for many years.”
Rhett had told him that she was treated “exquisitely” while in California, but her passion was her art.
“It was as if she knew that her art was the destiny she was provided,” said McQueeney. “She continued acting in theater and she had a penchant for horseback riding. She was so very gracious, humble, and proper. You wouldn’t know she was in the greatest movie ever made.”
The eulogy that was not given is one he crafted in his mind.
“It remains in my thoughts of the one and only Alicia Rhett, Charleston’s most graceful artist who was in every way a star!”
Alicia Rhett was buried in St. Philip’s Churchyard, 142 Church Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Memorials may be made to the Alicia Rhett Art Fund at the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Inc., 635 Rutledge Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403 or to the Bishop Gadsden Resident Assistance Fund, One Bishop Gadsden Way, Charleston, SC 29412.
Here are a few upcoming GWTW events:
***GWTW Tea to benefit Historic Sappingon House Mon. April 7- Lunch and GWTW talk featuring Sally Tippett Rains
***TCM Film Festival April 10-13
According to their website, http://filmfestival.tcm.com/: “In addition to screenings of classic films—including new restorations of landmark films—in legendary Hollywood venues, Festival attendees have the opportunity to attend “meet and greets” with TCM guests, shop for classic film memorabilia, and enjoy panel discussions with experts on all aspects of film and the history of Hollywood.” Gone With the Wind is one of the featured films for the film festival.
Each year some GWTW fans hope that Olivia de Havilland will make an appearance and this year with the inclusion of Gone With The Wind, some thought she might actually come. On Oct. 29th, New York Post writer Lou Lumenick thought he was breaking a story when he wrote: “Plans are afoot for legendary actress Olivia De Havilland, 97, to appear at a 75th anniversary screening of “Gone With the Wind” at next year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, I can report exclusively.”
He got his information from an interview he did with Robert Osborne who said: “We’ve been trying to work out something with her for years. She has an amazing memory, and she’s the last of those people who were really an integral part of the golden age of films.
“But time is of the essence. She’s 97, and she still maintains a busy schedule in Paris, where she’s lived since the 1950s. We’re hoping it will finally work out for next year, given the anniversary.”
Alas it was just wishful thinking for Osborne and everyone else including the almost 1,000 fans of the Facebook page “Bring Olivia de Havilland to the TCM Film Festival” started by Angela Danovi. She is a fan of Olivia de Havilland and has started several web and social media outlets including OliviadeHavillandonline.com pertaining to either de Havilland or GWTW.
“I wish TCM would make some kind of announcement regarding Olivia’s presence, because (of the) article in October alluding that she would attend,” said Danovi. “I get direct emails from fans every day who can’t decide whether or not to buy tickets because they don’t want to miss the opportunity to see her.”
Though TCM has not made an announcement that they were trying to bring in de Havilland nor have they said she won’t be there, the decision has apparently been made.
The Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival has tried for the second year to get her to come but her representative said she would not be traveling to the United States.
“There was some discussion some time ago about Miss de Havilland attending the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival in Los Angeles this spring, however those plans have changed and Miss de Havilland will no longer be in the United States in April,” the representative said.
***Marietta, Georgia: June 6-8. Marietta GWTW Museum: Details have not been released yet. We will let you in on all the details as soon as they are released to us. (This author will be one of the featured authors at the event)
***Orlando, Florida: Aug. 16- Dec. 1: Orange County Regional History Center- Angela Danovi who also runs GWTWShowtimes.com saw this exhibit (pieces from the Shaw-Tumblin collection) when it was at the Historic Arkansas Museum and wrote about it in her blog. “The purpose of the exhibit was to connect the public to authentic collectors’ items from the film Gone With the Wind, (as well as) genuine artifacts from people who lived during the civil war while drawing the stark contrast between the Hollywood glamorized version of the Civil War and the real lives of those who lived during the Civil War 150 years ago.” –To read more and view the pictures click here.”
***Gone With the Wind 75th Anniversary Celebration, Sept. 12-13– Clark Gable Foundation, Cadiz, OH- We’ll have more information on this as it comes.
In other news: Warner Brothers pulls plug on GWTW Screenings
Last week it was discovered that Warner Brothers has contacted the smaller theatres who normally show Gone With the Wind and told them they can’t show them until a specific time. According to a phone call to Warner Brothers, no one has a license to screen it except the TCM film festival and the Fox for their September screening.
That was a disappointment for many because there are some wonderful small theaters that show the Gone With the Wind every year. A few who were scheduled to run it for Valentine’s Day had to cancel.
And wrapping up: regarding Olivia de Havilland, this author was fortunate to get a recent interview with her, which would be the most recent interview with her to date. We will keep you posted about where this will be published.
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