Gone With the Wind’s 75th Anniversary: Death Strikes the Cast!

Complete_GWTW_Trivia_Book_2e_SMALLOn February 25, 1939, Robert Gleckler, the actor playing Tara’s overseer Jonas Wilkerson, died of uremic poisoning at the age of 52. His death stunned Gone With the Wind‘s cast and crew.

The previous month, George Cukor had directed Gleckler in the sequence of Ellen O’Hara’s return to Tara. In the scene, Barbara O’Neil as Mrs. O’Hara informs Gleckler that she had just come from Emmy Slattery’s bedside. Cukor and producer David O. Selznick were both pleased with that scene as well as others Gleckler had done.

South Dakota-born Gleckler’s acting resume included roles in 16 Broadway productions from 1917 to 1934 and in 57 feature films from 1927 to 1939. Among the latter was The Finger Points (1931) with future Gone With the Wind cast members  Clark Gable and Robert Elliott who played the Yankee Major in the Atlanta jail. Gleckler was also known for Great Guy (1936), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) and They Made Me a Criminal (1939).

Victor Jory was hired to replace Gleckler, and all of the previously filmed scenes were reshot under the direction of Victor Fleming.

Rest in peace, Mr. Gleckler, on the 75th anniversary of your passing.

Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd edition), which will be published in spring 2014, 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

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