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The GWTW Costumes: Where Are They Now?


princessananka
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In today's newspaper, my attention was riveted to the following headline:

 

 

"Gone With the Wind Memorabilia Shown."

 

 

As I read the article, however, I was struck once more by the so precarious state of movie costumes--especially those from the now mythyical GONE WITH THE WIND.

 

 

The story said that the N.C. Museum of History was displaying l20 items from GWTW, donated by former Universal Studio head make-up and hair master, Jim Thumblin. Vivien Leigh's Oscar is among the items but the part that caught my eye were the actual gown worn by Vivien Leigh in the Shantytown sequence, Bonnie Blue Butler's final blue velvet riding habit and hat and Ashley Wilkes ragged uniform when he returned to Tara after the war.

 

 

Thumblin said he had noticed on the studio floor one day a whole rack of movie costumes that were headed to the dump. Among them was Scarlett's Shantytown outfit and a bunch of other famous movie costumes.

 

 

He brougt the whole rack for just $20.00.

 

 

As a reporter in Montgomery, Ala, during the late 70s I heard that the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts had the genuine gown worn by Vivien Leigh on the riverboat--a stunning creation with yellow lovebirds on her shoulders. When I asked the director if I could see if for a story, he refused, explaining the gown was now all "eaten up by moths" and he did not want the museum to show any "tacky" Hollywood stuff. One staffer told me the director had deliberately refused to take care of the gown and it was beyond repair. How the museum acquired this creation is a mystery.

 

 

Which makes us wonder: just how many original gowns from GWTW are there left? I know several museums in the South devoted to GWTW memorabalia boast of having a genuine "gown" or "gowns." Could these just be replicas--or do some boast the genuine thing? On AMC's series on Hollywood years ago, one segment was devoted to "Whatever Happened to Famous Costumes.' It showed Scarlett's burgundy gown she wore to Ashley's birthday party in a cheap western, and then later it was used to mop floors with.

 

 

Could any of you offer your ideas as to the fate of GWTW's costumes?

 

 

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Several years ago Boscov's in Neshaminy Mall had numerous Hollywood costumes from the Gene London collection. There were dresses from Grace Kelly, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo. There were more dresses on display but I can not remember who wore them. Not sure if there were any from Gone With the Wind.

 

And don't know if Gene London has a permanent place for his collection. But he must have quite a collection. He filled the large "Community Room" and the first floor had about 12 dresses from movies that you had no trouble remembering seeing in the movies.

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Thanks for all your replies and links to other databases regarding Hollywood costumes.

 

 

I remember distinctly that the New York Metropolitan Museum held a marvelous Hollywood Fashion event with numerous dresses ond display from famous movies, especially GWTW.

 

 

I'm certain Scarlett O'Hara's first dress she is seen in--the white crinoline with the red belt--was among them, along with the emerald green robe, with elaborate gold trim and design, she wore in the No More Babies scene in her bedroom.

 

 

Some of the other creations I remember was an elaborate sequined costume that Garbo wore in MATA HARI, a Mae West rhinestone encrusted gown, the Letty Lynton white organdy gown that Joan Crawford wore, etc.

 

 

I'm amazed that David O. Selznick and MGM didn't do more to protect the GWTW legacy better. Surely they saw that after several re-iusses GWTW was a phenomenon and anything pertaining to it, especially the costumes, would be wildly popular when seen by the public.

 

 

When I attended the Gloria Swanson auction at the "William Boyle Gallery in NYC, this amazing woman had carefully preserved not only key costumes from her movies, but outstanding creations from her own wardrobe. The curator explained that Swanson realized early in her career that her fans would love to see her costumes after her death. So she kept them in temperature controlled storage rooms. She had them carefully treated with chemicals to prevent moths from eating away. Her furs, hats, stunning gowns from the Jazz Age, throug the thirties, etc. astounded everyone.

 

 

If only studio moguls and other stars had been as prescient as the fabulous Swanson!

 

 

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