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MY ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS PROPERTY
HAS NEVER WAVERED...

David O. Selznick and Katherine Brown

How David O. Selznick and Katherine Brown
purchased the film rights to
GONE WITH THE WIND


Kay Brown and Jock Whitney
Kay Brown and Jock Whitney

In 1936 David O. Selznick was already a legend in Hollywood having produced such films as King Kong, Little Women, Dinner at Eight, David Copperfield, Anna Karenina and A Tale of Two Cities. He had been Head of Production at RKO. At MGM he headed his own production unit. Then in October 1935 he formed his own independent company, Selznick International Pictures. He was 33 years old.

Selznick met Katherine (Kay) Brown during his time at RKO. She had been a story editor in the New York office and had, among other things, brought Edna Ferber's Cimarron to the studio. She was one of the first people Selznick hired for his new company. It was Brown's job to bring to Selznick's attention any literary properties that might make good movie material.


In that capacity she sent the following teletype to Selznick on Wedesday, May 20, 1936:

5/20/36

TO DOS FROM KB


WE HAVE AIRMAILED DETAILED SYNOPSIS OF "GONE WITH THE WIND" BY
MARGARET MITCHELL AND ALSO COPY OF BOOK TO VAL STOP THIS IS CIVIL
WAR STORY AND MAGNIFICENT POSSIBILITY FOR MIRIAM HOPKINS OR MARGARET
SULLAVAN STOP IT WILL BE THE JULY BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB AND IS OVER
A THOUSAND PAGES LONG AND I GUESS THAT IS WHY EVERYBODY THINKS IT IS
GOING TO BE ANOTHER ANTHONY ADVERSE STOP ALL PICTURE COMPANIES HAVE
DEFINITELY REGISTERED THEIR INTEREST ONE GOING SO FAR AS TO MAKE A
25,000 OFFER ON HEARING THE STORY TOLD TO THEM BY A PERSON WHO WAS
GOING TO ITS REVIEW STOP WE HAVE TOLD MACMILLAN THE PUBLISHERS
THAT YOU HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR A CIVIL WAR STORY TOLD FROM A DIFFERENT
ANGLE AND ASKED THEM TO DO NOTHING ON IT BEFORE MONDAY OF NEXT WEEK
THEREFORE WOULD APPRECIATE IT GREATLY IF YOU WOULD GIVE THIS YOUR
PROMPT ATTENTION
END


Miriam Hopkins
Miriam Hopkins
Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell

Bad connections, static, crossed lines and the time it took to connect with another party made long distance telephone calls impractical for business purposes in 1936. Furthermore, since human beings operated the switches, security was an issue. Consequently, Brown in New York and Selznick in Los Angeles often used the teletype to communicate, leaving us with a written record of many of their discussions.

The "Val" mentioned in the second line is Val Lewton, the West Coast Story editor for Selznick International Pictures (SIP). Lewton did not care for the book.

Miriam Hopkins was an important star at Goldwyn, known for playing spirited, bitchy Scarlett-like roles. Recent films included Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1932, Lubitsch's Design For Living, 1933, Becky Sharp (title role) and Barbary Coast, 1935.

Margaret Sullavan was a fairly new star at Universal but had quickly gained a reputation as a versatile if tempermental actress. In 1935 she starred with Randolph Scott in King Vidor's So Red The Rose, a love story set during the Civil War. Though well acted, it was a box office flop as Selznick points out on May 25.

Margaret Sullavan
Margaret Sullavan
Fredric March in Anthony Adverse
Fredric March in Anthony Adverse

Hervey Allen's best selling novel, Anthony Adverse, was an epic coming of age story set in 19th century America. The blockbuster film version starred Fredric March, who later tested for the role of Rhett, and Olivia de Havilland who of course went on to play Melanie. The film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy whose wife, Doris Warner, was an active participant in the bidding war for the film rights to Gone With The Wind.


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Exhibit design by Steve L. Wilson

Learn how you can save the Green Curtain Dress and other costumes from Gone With The Wind.