Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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January 7, 1939

Mr. Ed Sullivan
621 North Alta Drive
Beverly Hills, California

Dear Ed:

Vivian Leigh is by no means cast as Scarlett. There are three other
possibilities. But should we decide on Miss Leigh for the role, I
think the following answers your question:

1. Scarlett O'Hara's parents were French and Irish. Identically,
Miss Leigh's parents are French and Irish.

2. A large part of the South prides itself on its English ancestry,
and an English girl might presumably, therefore, be as acceptable
in the role as a Northern girl.

3. Experts insist that the real Southern accent, as opposed to the
Hollywood conception of a Southern accent, is basically English.
There is a much closer relationship between the English accent
and the Southern accent than there is between the Southern accent
and the Northern accent, as students will tell you, and as we have
found through experience.

4. I think it would be ungrateful on the part of Americans,
particularly Americans in the film and theatrical worlds, to feel
bad about such a selection in view of the English public's warm
reception of American actor's portayals of the most important and
best-loved characters in English history and fiction, ranging all
the way from Wallace Beery in "Treasure Island", to Fredric March
as Browning in "The Barretts", to Gary Cooper in "Bengal Lancer".

5. And, finally, let me call your attention to the most successful
performances in the American theatre in many, many years -- those,
respectively, of the American Helen Hayes as "Queen Victoria" and
the British Raymond Massey as "Abraham Lincoln".

I feel that these are the days when we should all do everything within our
power to help cement British-American relationships and mutual sympathies,
rather than to indulge in thoughtless, half baked and silly criticisms.
As I have said, Miss Leigh is not set for the role, but if she gets it

Mr. Ed Sullivan
1/7/39 - Page 2

Miss Leigh seems to us to be the best qualified
from the standpoints of physical resemblance to Miss Mitchell's Scarlett,
and - more importantly - ability to give the right performance in one
of the most trying roles ever written. And this is after a two-year

And if she gets the role, I like to think that you'll be in there
rooting for her.

Cordially and sincerely yours,


P.S. Incidentally, just where do the carpers think the name "Georgia" came from,
but from England? I suppose they'd also object to George
Washington being played by an Englishman!