2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
By Sally Tippett Rains, GWTWBook.com
I am looking forward to my trip to Marietta, Ga. this week, as I am a featured author at the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum’s “75th Anniversary Celebration of Gone With the Wind.” Just to be able to make the trip will be a great thing for me, and if lessons can be learned in all of life’s happenings it can be attributed to some of the memorable quotes from Gone With the Wind.
I was supposed to arrive in Atlanta on Wednesday, but my travel plans had to be pushed back because for the past two weeks my time has been spent in medical facilities with of two family members, and I wanted to be sure they were ok before I traveled. Today I sat at end of the bed of a dear friend’s mother, who had just broken her hip and was suffering from pneumonia. These experiences are nothing new, you have all had times like this, but being a writer I become inspired easily. Sometimes something that seems like the biggest deal, when put into perspective really isn’t– hence the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by author by Richard Carlson.
Usually when I am going out of town for a book promotional event I spend the week before having my hair done, trying to figure out what to wear, and getting a manicure and/or pedicure. This year I am coming as I am and that’s good enough for me.
When I worried that I would not have time to prepare for the trip, due to the other things going on in my life, the words of beloved GWTW actress Ann Rutherford rang in my ears. She said that through her character Carreen O’Hara she was proud to be able to deliver the line, “ I guess things like hands and ladies don’t matter so much anymore.”
When I was interviewing her for my book “The Making of a Masterpiece, the True Story of Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind” she told me what a poignant line that was to her. After looking down at her roughed up hands from picking cotton, her sister Suellen said, “Look at my hands. Mother said you could always tell a lady by her hands.”
Here they were just trying to survive after they had lost everything and her sister Suellen was worried about her looks.
You can’t plan how your life will go but in the Master Plan, the timing is always perfect and if you never give up, you will survive anything that is handed to you. I have written two inspirational books and given many motivational speeches in my quest to give people confidence and strength to face whatever comes their way. I also like to remind people to have fun along life’s journey.
That thought reminded me of the late Robert Rosterman, who worked for MGM’s Chicago distribution office for almost 20 years and after that for 20th Century FOX. Robert was always at the Marietta events due to his close friendship with Dr. Christopher Sullivan, whose collection is housed in the museum. He was also great friends with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host Robert Osborne, and loved Gone With the Wind and called it “the story of survival.” He was always having fun.
Along the lines of perfect timing in your life, I feel so lucky that I wrote my book at the time I did. In my three years of research and 75 interviews I made so many new friends, some of whom I enjoyed seeing at various GWTW events and many came to St. Louis when I even hosted my own three day event. Some of them are no longer with us but I– as well as many other GWTW fans were able to meet them and get their memories and thoughts about Gone With the Wind.
On this trip to Marietta I will miss two of the actors who I got to know while writing my book—Cammie King Conlin and Ann Rutherford. I was lucky enough to interview them on-camera for a documentary which was originally produced by an Atlanta-based production company for Turner Classic Movies. As it turned out the interviews, filmed in Marietta with help from Connie Sutherland included Cammie, who played Bonnie Blue Butler. She was so vibrant and beautiful, who could have known that would be the final trip she would ever make to Marietta. So that was perfect timing for those who got to see her.
When I was informed by the producer that TCM decided to pass on the documentary due to the economy tanking at that time, I was at first disappointed, but then I thought what perfect timing it had all been that I interviewed all those surviving actors, and I knew I had to see that documentary to the end. It was completed with an educational grant from the Hawkin Foundation for HEC (Higher Education Channel).
What a treasure to have the actors who played Carreen, Bonnie Blue, and Beau Wilkes at various stages, all on tape talking about their memories of Gone With the Wind. Ann Rutherford, Cammie King Conlon, Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis, Greg Giese were all involved in the documentary.
Another person I will miss is in Marietta, who was also in the documentary, is Herb Bridges. Herb was so gracious to me when I started out with the book. He introduced me to people and helped me get interviews for it. A beloved GWTW author, he went out of his way to help make my book a success.
Most of the authors I interviewed were very open and willing to help also. I love meeting and talking to other like-minded people.
Because I know how hard the authors worked on their individual books I wanted to interview as many of them as I could and shine the light on their books in mine. One of the events at the Marietta weekend is the author panel where fans can meet the people behind many of the books they have enjoyed reading.
Anne Edwards, who will be at the event was especially helpful. I had read two of her books and appreciated that such a successful author took the time out to talk to me.
When I got the chance to meet her she was just as wonderful in person as she had been on the phone.
I look forward to seeing some of the other authors with whom I worked in writing my book and I feel blessed to appear on the author panel with them. David O’Connell, who will be at the Marietta event talked to me about his book “The Irish Roots of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind,” and he was very helpful filling me in about some of the comparisons between Mitchell and her character Scarlett O’Hara in the area of heritage and religion.
When I wanted to learn more about Margaret Mitchell’s friend Susan Myrick, I happened upon her niece, Susan Lindsley, an author in her own right. She could not have been nicer—even though my St. Louis Cardinals got the best of her Atlanta Braves a few times during our friendship.
I look forward to caching up with Kathy Witt and comparing notes about our sons’ weddings. She wrote a real creative book, “The Secret of the Belles” that was fun to read. It will be great to finally meet Kendra Bean in person: We know each other “online” and I love her book about Vivien Leigh. She appeared via Skype at our “Gateway To the Wind” event in St. Louis.
Since my home is furnished in Joe Yakovetic artwork I always love seeing what Joe is working on; he has a surprise for everyone in Marietta and I know you will like it.
One of the best things about writing my book was meeting the fans, many of whom are called “Windies.” I say many because there are a few who don’t prefer the name, but are fans just the same. The Windies are a lot of fun, enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable. You’ve got to love people who are that passionate about something. Kathleen Marcaccio sends out “Updates” with everything a fan could want to know about events, books or articles surrounding Gone With the Wind. Patrisha Henson is another Windie who works hard for the enjoyment of others. She has organized an ornament exchange with people from all over the country.
When I was writing my book, there were a couple of authors who were threatened by another book coming out covering the topic about which they had written, and those authors I remember for other reasons. You are going to meet negative people in your life and if you want to be happy you just have to keep moving.
Being involved in the GWTW world through both my book and documentary and many subsequent speaking engagements in various parts of the country has given me so much joy and blessed me with so many friends– as I know it has done to so many people. Whenever I see something negative being written about GWTW I just overlook it, rather than getting into the negative conversation, because Gone With the Wind is my happy place.
Whether it is authors protecting their turf, collectors having pride in their collections, bloggers or social media people competing for credibility, I wish them all well. We are lucky to be able to live in a time when we can have so many choices in what we see or read about David O. Selznick’s epic movie that will be celebrating 75 years on the big screen.
This upcoming event will feature the remaining actors as well as special guests and authors. It is perfect timing and you should try to go if you can.
We are lucky to be able to see and hear from Mickey Kuhn, who played Beau Wilkes at the end of the movie. Through his many appearances in Marietta and when he came to St. Louis, fans have been able to learn so much history from him. Beau Wilkes was just a blip on his radar screen of a very successful movie career. We also get to hear other Hollywood tales from Patrick Curtis whose parents worked for Republic Pictures and stars like Clark Gable came in and out of his home in his younger years. If Greg Giese is able to get there we will hear about how he was “discovered” in his baby bed at the Rice Maternity Hospital.
As Robert Rosterman had said, GWTW was a story io survival, but so are it’s fans. They have survived the loss of their dear friend Robert Warren, for whom a special fan award has been named and will be given out during the festivities. You have each survived all that has been presented to you, in your life and like Scarlett O’Hara, the things you have been through have made you stronger.
I want to encourage every person reading this to stop worrying about “hands and ladies” and silly things that we all think are so important. Take the time to live your life and appreciate every day you have with every person you come in contact with. One of Scarlett’s biggest problems was that even though Ashley rejected her, there were others who cared for her but she didn’t even notice them. If someone you love has rejected you, don’t dwell on what you don’t have, look around at those who care about you and concentrate on what you do have.
Allow yourself no room for negativity—be more like Carreen O’Hara– Anne Rutherford. She didn’t just come to the events, she wanted to know about the town and the people. She would tell me all sorts of interesting facts about the places she had been and in specific Atlanta. She got more out of her life than most people do and a lesson can be learned from that.
Allow yourself no room for jealousy, badmouthing, or criticism—be more like Melanie when she said to Rhett Butler, “Surely you haven’t listened to idle gossip. No, Capt. Butler, I wouldn’t believe it.” She always saw the good in people, and because of that she had a happier life than Scarlett who was never satisfied with what she had.
Also, allow yourself no room for regrets. When I was writing my book I tried like the dickens to get an interview with Olivia de Havilland. I tried and tried but had no success. Then, through the act of helping someone else, I had perfect timing and was able to meet her through the email and telephone.
I had helped set up a video interview with a camera crew from Paris and there was much corresponding with her to be done. She ended up deciding to do an audio interview instead, but I have continued in a friendly “pen-pal” type friendship with her through the email. Not long ago she surprised me and sent me answers to a list of questions.
I may not have had it for my book, but I am glad to have gotten an “interview” with Olivia de Havilland.
Margaret Mitchel said she wrote about people who had gumption and about those who did not. She had gumption throughout her young life, but it seemed that once her book became famous she was overwhelmed. Perhaps the way she survived each day was to take her own advice.
Throughout the book, when presented with a major challenge, Scarlett stepped back. ‘If I think of it now, I’ll go crazy’, she would say to herself and put the bad things in a box for later, gathering up her strength to do the things she had to do at that moment.
If you are ever presented with a problem, a situation that seems out of control, or you feel desperate like there is no way out, there is always hope. There is never no hope. Just remember Scarlett’s advice from the last line of Margaret Mitchell’s one and only book and think about it tomorrow, because, “after all, tomorrow is another day.”
There is still time to attend the 75th Anniversary Celebration in Marietta and make some memories.
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Connie Sutherland has done a great job of setting up a fun weekend. Here is a schedule and how to get tickets: 770-794-5145 www.gwtwmarietta.com
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR THE MARIETTA 75TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
FRIDAY, JUNE 6:
11:00-1:30 p.m. $35 (if purchased as a single ticket)
The Wind Has Left – Kristi Lynn Theatre/Murray Arts Center
Live, on stage! Directors Connie Sutherland and Patrick Curtis along with Narrator Chris
Sullivan present their version of Gone With the Wind starring Morgan Brittany, Greg
Giese, Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis and a host of non-actors (mostly authors) with an old
time Radio Show called The Wind Has Left. Complete with sound effects and lots of
drama, the troupe will have you rolling in the aisles. What better way to kick off a 75th
anniversary event? And, after Rhett no longer gives a hoot and Scarlett finds some way
to get him back (not!), Morgan, Greg, Patrick and Mickey will return to the stage for an
3:00-4:30 p.m. $10 (if purchased as a single ticket)
Wilbur Kurtz Exhibit – Marietta Cobb Museum of Art
Special guided tour of the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art’s exclusive exhibit of
paintings by Wilbur G. Kurtz, Sr. on loan from the Southern Museum, Kennesaw
Battlefield, The Coca Cola Permanent Collection, Knoke Fine Arts, Russ Clayton
Collection, and Millenium Gate Museum. Pieces from Wilbur Kurtz, III and several
prominent families in the Atlanta area will also be on display. Your expert guides will be Wilbur Kurtz III, author David O’Connell and collector Russ Clayton. Oh, the things you will learn!
7:00-10:30 p.m. $85 (if purchased as single ticket)
Gone With the Wind Costume Bazaar Ball and Dinner – Murray Arts Center GrandLobby
Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Third Annual Robert Warren Windie Awards Presentation
Dancing to Civil War Music (and maybe some tunes a bit more current)
Ladies and gentlemen will bid for a dance with the celebrities
Prize for best Rhett & Scarlett waltz
Scarlett’s “Bazaar Booth” will be available for souvenir photos throughout theevening
Tentative special guest appearance
SATURDAY, JUNE 7:
10:30-12:00 p.m. $35 (if purchased as a single ticket)
Curtains and Crinolines: The Costumes of GWTW – Strand Theatre 4th Floor
Costume conservator Cara Varnell, artist Joseph Yakovetic and Gone With the Wind collector
Chris Sullivan join forces in this interesting lecture on the costumes of Gone With the Wind.
Designer and Hollywood Icon Walter Plunkett was the artistry behind the well-known fashions
worn by “Scarlett” in the film. Thanks to Plunkett (and Carol Burnett) the green drapery dress is
one of the most recognized costumes from the movie. Cara’s knowledge of preservation in the
world of fashion took her to the University of Texas for preservation work on the Gone With the
Wind costumes at the Harry Ransom Center. Chris shares his lecture recently given at the
Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in PA to discuss how Walter Plunkett used designs
from actual 19th century fashion magazines for his work on “Scarlett’s” outfits. Joe Yakovetic
spent a day with Walter Plunkett discussing his career at great length and has also done work
as a costume designer. He once planned to create GWTW fashion plates and researched
original plates from the Civil War era that also inspired Plunkett’s designs.
2:00-4:00 p.m. $35 (if purchased as a single ticket)
“Vivien” – Theatre in the Square (Home of the Marietta Players)
If you haven’t seen this one-woman play starring Judith Chapman (The Young & the
Restless) you have missed something truly special. Ms. Chapman brings Vivien Leigh
to life in her passionate portrayal of the mentally troubled actress whose turn as
“Scarlett” in Gone With the Wind is still unsurpassed in the world of motion pictures. The
dark years of Leigh’s life and the struggles she endured are met with tenderness and
sorrow as her story comes full circle in this amazing performance. A meet and greet with
Ms. Chapman will follow the 90-minute production. (Note: Theater seats 220 only so do not
wait on this one!)
5:30-7:30 pm $40 (if purchased as a single ticket)
Author’s Forum – Council Chambers/Marietta City Hall Building
Kendra Bean – Vivien: An Intimate Portrait
Phillip Done – The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales From Gone With the Wind & the
Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister
Anne Edwards – Re-release: Road to Tara; Scarlett and Me; Vivien A Biograph
Susan Lindsley – The Bottom Rail; Margaret Mitchell: A Scarlett or a Melanie;
Susan Myrick of Gone With the Wind: An Autobiographical Biography
David O’Connell – The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz: Inspired by Southern History
Sally Tippett Rains – The Making of a Masterpiece: The True Story Behind Gone With the Wind
Doug Tattershall – Belle Brezing: American Magdalene
Marianne Walker – Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind; The Graves County Boys
Victoria Wilcox – Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday – Inheritance Book 1; Gone West Book 2
John Wiley – Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey From
Atlanta to Hollywood (with Ellen Brown) New book release: October 2014
Kathryn Witt – Re-release: The Secret of the Belles 75th
Anniversary Edition (new content, photographs, cover art by Joseph Yakovetic); Atlanta: A Photographic Portrait
SUNDAY, JUNE 8:
10:00-11:00 a.m. No Charge
Live Auction – Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum
The museum will offer an opportunity to bid on some really great Gone With the Wind
memorabilia. Silent auction items will also be available.
11:15 am-1:00 pm (No charge with weekend ticket) $10 (if purchased as a single ticket)
Autograph Signing – Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum
All books for author signings may be purchased in the museum gift shop any time during
the weekend or on the day of signing.
Prints by artist Joe Yakovetic may be purchased in the gift shop. A coupon ticket will be
needed in order to receive an autograph by the artist.
As in the past, a volunteer will be assigned to each celebrity for the sale of their
photographs, autographs, DVD’s, CD’s, prints, or other items. Each volunteer will
provide a coupon ticket to anyone who purchases an item or autograph. The celebrity
will not autograph any item brought with you if you have not paid for and received a
coupon ticket ahead of time.
Prices from celebrities:
$10 autograph only (you must have a ticket for each item to be signed)
$10 black & white photos
$10 autograph only (you must have a ticket for each item to be signed)
$10 black & white photos
$15 color photos
$10 autograph only (you must have a ticket for each item to be signed)
$20 all photos
$40 Yakovetic print of Morgan as Scarlett
Free personal photo with fan purchase of any item
$15 color photos
$20 copy of pay stub for playing Beau/Bonnie in GWTW
$25 copy of contract to play Beau/Bonnie in GWTW
$20 Secret of the Belles book cover print (signed)
$20 GWTW mini prints pack of 12 (sig