The next major premiere for Gone With the Wind took place in Los Angeles at the Carthay Circle Theatre on Thursday, December 28, 1939, just three days before the deadline for the film to qualify for 1939’s Academy Awards.
Searchlights swept both sides of the San Vicente Boulevard block, where the movie palace was located, and a crowd of thousands screamed and applauded as Hollywood’s glitterati arrived for the 8:30 p.m. showing.
The guest list included Gone With the Wind’s stars and supporting cast; producer David O. Selznick; director Victor Fleming; production designer William Cameron Menzies; composer of the film’s score, Max Steiner; costume designer Walter Plunkett; the film’s first director, George Cukor; and many of actors and actresses that had been initially considered for the roles of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara.
As the auditorium filled, Selznick was puzzled about a section of 50 seats that remained unoccupied. The studio publicist handling the opening reminded Selznick that the producer had reserved tickets for that section for his private use. That’s when Selznick remembered: The tickets were still in his office. In the excitement of the Atlanta and New York City premieres, he had forgotten to invite anyone to attend the Los Angeles debut.
Assistants scrambled to fill the seats, and 50 lucky Angelenos were plucked from the neighborhood to attend the premiere of Gone With the Wind as the guests of David O. Selznick.
Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With the Wind!
Special 75th Anniversary Offer for Gone With the Wind fans: free personally inscribed, autographed bookplate for readers of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book. Details here: http://paulinebartel.com/blog/?p=1793
Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd edition) and an expert on the film and its history. Visit the website (www.paulinebartel.com/resources/books/books-available) for further information. Follow her on Twitter @PaulineBartel and “like” her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheCompleteGWTWTriviaBook).