And museums and attractions across the South are celebrating!
On June 30, it will have been 75 years since Margaret Mitchell wrote the book that’s become a favorite of most every Southerner. Tourist attractions related to Mitchell and “Gone With the Wind” have been preparing for this all year, and “windies,” as die-hard fans are called, and those who just enjoy the story of Scarlett and Rhett will have no shortage of ways to celebrate during the month of June and beyond. In Atlanta, there’s the opportunity to see a “lost manuscript” of the final four chapters of “Gone With the Wind,” as well as the premiere of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new documentary about Margaret Mitchell. In Alabama, fans can see what’s being called the most complete collection of “Gone With the Wind” books ever assembled. Vivien Leigh’s “Best Actress” Oscar is on display in Arkansas, and even Texans can celebrate with a visit to the Scarlett O’Hardy Museum. Frankly, my dears, we don’t give a damn how you commemorate the anniversary, but will say there’s no better excuse for a road trip this month.
ANNIVERSARY EVENTS CALENDAR
Atlanta’s Book: The Lost “Gone With the Wind” Manuscript
On display June 4-September 5, 2011
Atlanta History Center
A rare piece of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” manuscript makes its way back to Atlanta this month. As part of GWTW’s 75th anniversary, the Atlanta History Center is one of only two venues to display the last four chapters of the original manuscript, along with handwritten notes by Mitchell. The individual sheets of chapter 63, the final chapter, are mounted on the wall for visitors to read. In addition, visitors to Atlanta History Center can tour Mitchell’s apartment and see the desk she used while writing GWTW, as well as letters of correspondence, images and foreign and first edition copies of the book. Visit the center’s 75th anniversary webpage to see all activities and events planned. Admission is $16.50. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday: noon-5:30 p.m.
Reel To Real: Gone With the Wind And the Civil War in Arkansas
On display through April 30, 2012
Historic Arkansas Museum
Little Rock, Arkansas
The Historic Arkansas Museum marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with tandem exhibits contrasting the Hollywood version of the Civil War with the harsh reality of life. Costumes worn by Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler will be on display as part of the “reel” section, along with photos and movie outtakes. All in all, visitors can see 123 objects, including Vivien Leigh’s 1939 Best Actress Oscar and an original script. Admission is $2.50 for adults and $1 for children. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday: 1-5 p.m.
Gone With the Wind at 75 – A Diamond Jubilee Exhibit
On display June 30–December 23, 2011
Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts
Featuring a large collection of “Gone With the Wind” memorabilia, the Gadsden exhibit includes items drawn from leading GWTW collections across the country, some never seen before. Much of the material on display will relate to the movie version, such as original costume pieces, furniture and props. Also on view will be original artwork and production materials, merchandise and the most complete collection of “Gone With the Wind books” ever assembled, including 100 editions from China alone. While the exhibit will be on display through December, special events planned include a gala opening and ribbon cutting on June 30, a visit from the last surviving man in the movie credits, Mickey Kuhn, August 5-6, an author panel on October 15, birthday celebration for Margaret Mitchell on November 8 and showing of the movie on December 15. Museum admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children 3-12. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday: 1-5 p.m.
Mrs. John Marsh … The World Knew Her As Margaret Mitchell
Ansley Park Playhouse
A one-woman play about the author of “Gone With the Wind” premieres June 2 with a champagne reception. Following performances include a Q&A with the playwright, best hat contests, talk backs with the author and actress and costume promenade June 12. Tickets range from $30-$40. Performance times vary from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Bestseller’s Odyssey Book Talks
Authors of the new book “Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood” Ellen Brown and John Wiley Jr. will give a series of talks and booksignings throughout the month of June. Granted unprecedented access to GWTW records and correspondence, the authors examine how Mitchell’s disorganized and incomplete manuscript became one of the most profitable novels in literary history. (Read our review of the book here by scrolling down.) Dates and locations for talks are:
June 6 at Blue Elephant Bookshop in Decatur, Georgia
June 7 at Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia (GWTW trivia night will also be held)
June 8 at Fox Tale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia
June 23 at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia
June 25 at Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, Virginia
Gala Release of “Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel”
June 9, 2011
Georgian Terrace Hotel
In conjunction with the June 30 broadcast premiere of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s original documentary, the Georgian Terrace Hotel will hold a benefit dinner at 7 p.m. The hotel is an appropriate venue as a party for the original 1939 premiere of the movie version of “Gone With the Wind” was held there. Viewings of the documentary will also be held in Savannah on June 16, Augusta on June 23 and Macon on June 29.
A Tribute to Margaret Mitchell: The Book That Touched the World
Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum
Boasting the largest private collection of “Gone With the Wind” movie memorabilia, Marietta’s museum celebrates the anniversary during a two-day event. Guest authors, including John Wiley and Marianne Walker, will be on hand to discuss the impact of the book, and Margaret Mitchell and Vivien Leigh biographer Anne Edwards will be interviewed by the museum’s collection owner Chris Sullivan about her time spent with Leigh. (Her newly published book, “Scarlett and Me,” will be available exclusively at the event.) Cast members such as Ann Rutherford, Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis and Geneva Miller will also join in the festivities. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for seniors and students. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Legendary Tales … 75 Years of History
Explore “Gone With The Wind”‘s literary setting with costumed storytellers as they parallel Jonesboro’s history with the characters and stories found in the book. Self-guided events include a six-stop living history tour through Jonesboro – located in Clayton County, the “official home of Gone With the Wind” – admission to the Road to Tara Museum and Stately Oaks Plantation. Visitors will hear stories about the South, Civil War, Margaret Mitchell and inspiring characters at some of the most historic locations in Jonesboro from costumed actors. Tickets are $20, and events will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Margaret Mitchell Celebration
Historic Oakland Cemetery
Margaret Mitchell’s final resting place, Oakland Cemetery celebrates the anniversary from 5-7 p.m. with a reception on the Bell Tower veranda, guided walking tour, booksigning by John Wiley and champagne toast at her gravesite. Reservations are required by June 10, and admission is $20.
SITES TO VISIT
Margaret Mitchell House
Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind” from her basement apartment on Atlanta’s Peachtree Street. Affectionately nicknamed “the Dump,” the apartment is tiny and contains only four rooms, but visitors to the Margaret Mitchell House can walk through it, as well as see the desk she used while writing GWTW, the movie entrance to Tara and her lost manuscript, on display for the anniversary. Visit the center’s 75th anniversary webpage to see all activities and events planned. Admission is $16.50. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday: noon-5:30 p.m.
Advertising the only life-sized statue of Margaret Mitchell and famous in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley for her desserts, Scarlet’s Secret owner Betsy King has been collecting “Gone With the Wind” memorabilia for 45 years. Her museum contains at least 1,500 items, including an autographed first edition of the book. King will also have Madame Alexander’s new Margaret Mitchell doll and the anniversary copy of the book on sale. Don’t leave without having a slice of her red velvet cake and cup of tea on the veranda of the Tara-style home. Admission is $2.50, and hours are Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday: 1-4 p.m.
Georgian Terrace Hotel
In 1939, the Georgian Terrace hosted the premiere gala for the movie version of “Gone With the Wind.” All the stars, including Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, turned out to celebrate (and slept at the hotel), before heading to the theater. Today, the Midtown hotel’s floor-to-ceiling windows, crystal chandeliers and white marble columns look as they did then, and guests can dine at Livingston Restaurant or just have a drink at the bar. A small ballroom at the front of the hotel is also named after Mitchell.
Road to Tara Museum
Known as the “official home of Gone With the Wind,” Clayton County, Georgia, is home to the Road to Tara Museum. Exhibits include reproductions of costumes worn by Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel, Ona Munson, Ann Rutherford and Cammie King Conlon, numerous foreign translations of the book and many items from the personal collection of Herb Bridges, the largest private collector of “Gone With The Wind” memorabilia. A highlight of the museum is a 16×8 original oil mural depicting near life-sized renderings of Rhett and Scarlett as portrayed by Gable and Leigh, and surrounding them are five separate oil paintings depicting movie scenes in the story’s progression. The museum also offers two tours to immerse visitors in the county’s history and connections to Margaret Mitchell and GWTW. Admission is $7 for adults and for $6 seniors and children; tours are $24.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $13.95 for children 12 and under. Museum hours are Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours are available Monday-Saturday at 1 p.m.
A garden cemetery built in the Victorian spirit, Oakland houses the remains of Civil War leaders, poets and Margaret Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers guided walking tours on weekends. Tours are $10 for adults and $5 for students, seniors and children. Oakland Cemetery is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Scarlett O’ Hardy’s Gone With the Wind Museum
Housing one of the largest private collections of GWTW memorabilia, this Texas museum run by Bobbie Hardy includes domestic and foreign movie posters, stills, dolls, jigsaw puzzles and autographed pictures of many of the stars from the film. Popular attractions are a reproduction Scarlett’s green drapery dress, a GWTW-themed Christmas tree that stays up year-round and a replica of Tara covered in fondant icing. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children. Hours are Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. or by appointment. Visitors can also spend the night at Scarlett O’Hardy’s Bed and Breakfast next door.
Stately Oaks Plantation
Located 15 miles south of Atlanta, Stately Oaks’ Greek Revival Antebellum home takes visitors back to the days of Scarlett and Rhett. Costumed interpreters offer personal tours and tell why the home is though to be one of the inspirations for GWTW’s Tara. Tours are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for children and are offered Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square
Featuring an extensive collection of memorabilia from Dr. Christopher Sullivan, Marietta’s Museum boasts the only original movie costume on display – Scarlett’s Bengaline honeymoon gown – in addition to several of Margaret Mitchell’s personal volumes of the novel, an educational display dedicated to the African American cast members and rare press and publicity books, costume pieces and contracts. Visitors also won’t want to miss the dollhouse replica of Tara, completely outfitted and furnished down to the working lights. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Hours are Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tara in the Smokies
Spend the night in a “Gone With the Wind”-themed log cabin in the Smoky Mountains at Oak Haven Resort & Spa. With a portrait of Scarlett in her barbecue dress over the great room fireplace, the cabin is filled with curios of collectibles, dolls and even two custom-made pieces of stained glass depicting Scarlett and Rhett and Tara. Each of the cabin’s three bedrooms was inspired by a dress of Scarlett’s, explains Mary Creel, who owns the cabin with her husband, Bill. Being from Atlanta, they thought “Gone With the Wind” was an appropriate theme and have enjoyed collecting pieces to furnish the cabin. Check out their YouTube video to here to see the cabin. It sleeps eight, and nightly rates range from $165-$300.
Special thanks to author Ellen Brown for keeping us updated on “Gone With the Wind” events, intern Shermika Dunner for helping to compile this section and guest blogger Kate Spears for her post “Anatomy of a Southern Belle.”
Photo credits: Themed table from Marietta museum by Erin Z. Bass; Margaret Mitchell typewriter and desk and exterior of Margaret Mitchell House courtesy of Atlanta History Center/Margaret Mitchell House; “Mrs. John Marsh … the World Knew Her as Margaret Mitchell” publicity image from www.ansleyparkplayhouse.com; Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum taken by Erin Z. Bass; Scarlett’s dress replica, exhibit display and Stately Oaks Plantation courtesy of Clayton County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Road to Tara Museum; Margaret Mitchell gravesite from oaklandcemetery.com; Georgian Terrace Hotel by Shermika Dunner; Scarlett and Rhett in front of Tara from www.scarlettohardy.com; and Marietta museum dollhouse replica of Tara by Erin Z. Bass.