Fashion Friday #8: Hollywood Premiere of “Gone With the Wind”
On December 28th, 1939, Gone With the Wind finally had its premiere in Hollywood. The premiere was held at Fox’s Carthay Circle Theater, which had opened in 1926. Sadly, the theater was demolished in 1969 to make room for an office block.
The celebrities came out in droves, dressed to the nines, for the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind. In addition to the film’s cast, some of the other attendees included Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power, Cesar Romero, Ginger Rogers, Paulette Goddard and Charlie Chaplin.
“Scarlett” in fucshia and white: Vivien Leigh wears an ermine coat over sequin sprinkled souffle with its matching veil and sequined bag. Note that on the latter she carries Laurence Olivier’s orchids for a corsage effect fated for popularity.
Vivien Leigh’s dress was designed for her by Walter Plunkett, who had also created her Atlanta premiere outfit. It’s a shame there are no (known) color photos of Vivien in this dress. The fuchsia color would be amazing against her dark hair. Note how on top of her sequined hood, Vivien attached one of her brooches.
The gang’s all here, well almost all of them… Jock Whitney, financial backer of GWTW, stands next to Irene Selznick, followed by Olivia de Havilland, David Selznick, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier at the Carthay Circle Theater.
After the movie was over, Jock Whitney thew a huge party for the attendees, at the new Trocadero Club. Obviously having a good time, at the Trocadero, are Olivia de Havilland, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and David Selznick.
It’s Clark (“Rhett Butler”) Gable’s big night and wife Carole Lombard does him proud in a classic gown and wrap of stippled gold. With this she wears a minimum of jewelry, topping tiny earrings with a chic up hair-do. Carole’s gold lame gown was cut in the princess fashion.
In March, 1939, Clark was in the middle of filming Gone With the Wind when his divorce from wife number two came through, making him a free man. Clark wasted no time in making Carole the new Mrs. Gable and the couple drove down to Arizona to tie the knot.
Below, the Gables are caught hanging out with Marion Davies and Raoul Walsh. The foursome were photographed on the red carpet, at the Carthay Circle Theater, where Gone With the Wind would shortly be shown.
Double play at the “Gone With the Wind” opening! Ginger Rogers not only enters the theater on the arm of Walter Plunkett, who created “Scarlett O’Hara’s” own premiere ensemble, as well as the costumes for the picture…
Ginger Rogers wears a very smart tunic gown of palest blue and silver lame, exactly matched by the turban, which serves to conceal her currently dark hair. Her wrap is silver fox. Ginger was in the middle of filming Primrose Path and had dyed her blonde hair dark for the role (she also chose not to wear any make-up for the part).
Inside the Trocadero Club, at Jock Whitney’s party, Walter Plunkett and Ginger Rogers are all smiles.
Lana Turner flaunts a lynx coat, which is very nearly as stunning as her tricky feather bird. The latter’s an anchor for the hood of Lana’s Gladys Parker gown. Underneath the lynx coat, she wore a red and white hooded gown. Lana was one of the would-be Scarletts. She auditioned for the role back in November, 1938.
Surprise? Another sweeping ermine wrap, this one– not unlike Vivien’s– belonging to Norma Shearer (who almost played the famous “Miss O’Hara“)! She is wearing a Directoire model of appliqued satin. Her Rhett Butler is George Raft, of course.
Margaret Sullavan, arriving with her husband, Leland Hayward, might have stepped right out of the family album in her broadcloth coat. with its quaint elbow capelet and baby pillow muff– all banded with sealskin, that fur so dear to the hearts of our grandmothers’ day.
Tyrone Power and his wife, Annabella, arrive at Carthay Circle. The two had only been married since April and were still in the honeymoon stage.
Most girls would think it quite enough to make their entrance with Tyrone Power (let alone wearing his wedding ring!), but Annabella still seeks further honors with her basque waisted full skirted frock of brocaded satin damask under a white fox jacket whose extended shoulders are practically guaranteed to make the tiniest, most feminine star look even more fragile.
Gary Cooper and his wife, Veronica Balfe, arrive for the premiere. Fine feathers make a fine showing among the many opulent furs and gorgeous fabrics at the Carthay Circle, as Mrs. Gary Cooper proves with a brief, shaggy ostrich jacket. Her blazing diamond earrings strike an elegant note, too, though Gary’s face hardly looks too formal from this angle!
Joan Crawford’s date for the night was Cesar Romero.
Gallantly, Cesar Romero helps Joan Crawford adjust the hood of her ermine wrap over her snood. The dress beneath is of flowing white crepe, tightly belted with heavy embroidery of gold beads to match neckline.
Here are a few other celebrities who also attended the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind. Unfortunately, I don’t have dress descriptions for these ladies. First up is Hattie McDaniel. Hattie brought to life the character Mammy from GWTW as no other actress possibly could have.
Miss Carreen O’Hara and Mr. Charles Hamilton, better known in real life as Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks attended the showing together. This was Ann’s third time watching Gone With the Wind. She’d previously attended the Atlanta and New York premieres.
Paulette Goddard arrived on the red carpet with her husband, Charlie Chaplin. Paulette was another would-be Scarlett and actually made it to the final four in consideration. Her last screen test for Scarlett was on December 21st, 1938.
No matter what city Gone With the Wind had a premiere in (Atlanta, New York, Hollywood), the crowds turned out in droves to catch the slightest glimpse of Scarlett, Rhett and all the others who brought Margaret Mitchell’s masterpiece to life.
Thanks for joining me for this week’s fashion post!
All italicized dress descriptions are from Photoplay, April, 1940.