The Margaret Mitchell House and Atlanta
Celebrating 75 years of Gone with the Wind
shortly before the release of gone with the wind, margaret mitchell posed for atlanta journal staff photographer kenneth g. rogers. the book she is holding is one in her library, not a copy of her novel. she remarked to rogers at a later date that this photo was her favorite. she worked as a reporter for the atlanta journal, publishing over 126 stories with a byline of peggy mitchell.
on december 15, 1939, stars descended on atlanta for the world premiere of gone with the wind. vivien leigh and laurence olivier were whisked from the airport to the georgian terrace hotel. leigh remarked, "look! there's that red dirt we've been working in!" clark gable and wife carole lombard arrived on an american airlines skysleeper with "mgm's gone with the wind special flight to atlanta premiere" emblazoned on the side. lara hope crews, aunt pittypat, came by train; just outside adairsville, two cars derailed. no one was hurt, but crews commented that she came without "her smelling salts." outside the georgian terrace, the mayor and governor spoke to the crowd and the celebrities, and then introduced clark gable as "the man who, by national acclaim, from start to finish, was, is, and always will be rhett butler, who now owns atlanta!"
at that evening's premiere, an estimated 30,000 people gathered in front of loew's grand theatre to get a glimpse of the stars, shy of the 300,000 who followed the stars parade from the airport into downtown atlanta. it had been rumored that new york would host the premiere, so months before, mayor hartsfield took to his typewriter, launching a personal protest to metro-goldwyn-mayer which eventually reached the producer, david o. selznick. atlanta was the final and only choice. tickets for opening night were $10, "believed to be the highest in cinema history." all proceeds of the sales went to atlanta charities. tickets for the motion picture's regular run ranged from $.75 to $1.50. at the end of a 6-week run, an estimated 230,000 people had paid $250,000 to see the film.
mitchell was nervous as to how her "poor scarlet" would fare on the screen. after viewing the film, she remarked from stage: "this picture was a great emotional experience for me. i know i'm not the only person that's got a dripping wet handkerchief."
seventy-five years later after a star-studded opening night, the stars as well as the writer shines just as brightly as on that december night. at the margaret mitchell house on peacthree as well as the atlanta history center on west paces ferry, you can learn about pulitzer prize winning author margaret mitchell and her life before and after the publishing of this iconic southern novel, her only novel. personal artifacts are on display, including a replica of the remington typewriter she used to craft her novel. the original is on display at the atlanta-fulton central library.
the margaret mitchell house
979 crescent avenue ne
hours: mon. - sat., 10 a.m. - 5:30 pm
sun., noon - 5:30 p.m.
admission: adults $13; seniors and students $10
"in a weak moment, i have written a book and the background of the book is atlanta between 1859 and 1872. it is in no way a "historical novel", such as, for instance, mary johnston's "long roll" or "cease firing" but of course the whole plot is played out against the back ground of war and reconstruction . . . "
dated november 19, 1935
addressed to "my dear mr. kurtz"
signed, "sincerely, margaret mitchell marsh (mrs. john r. marsh)"
mitchell and her second husband john marsh lived in the bottom floor #1 apartment on peachtree street which she referred to as"the dump." two small rooms plus a galley kitchen and bathroom look very similar to when mitchell and her husband lived there in the late 20s.