On February 8, 1939, George Cukor directed Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Butterfly McQueen in “The Birth of Melanie’s Baby” sequence.
“Don’t try to be brave, Melly,” Scarlett tells her. “Yell all you want to. There’s nobody to hear.”
Prissy advises Scarlett to put a knife under the bed so the implement will “cut de pain in two.”
Olivia de Havilland had wanted to portray this scene as realistically as Margaret Mitchell had written it. Since childbirth was a foreign experience for de Havilland, she prepared for the scene by visiting the Los Angeles County Hospital. There, dressed as a nurse, she observed births in the delivery room. After watching and listening, she noticed that labor pains were not continuous; they came in waves.
She reported this to Cukor as they rehearsed Melanie’s labor scene. When filming the scene began, Cukor became inspired. He grabbed and sharply twisted de Havilland’s ankle under the blankets whenever he wanted her to simulate a new cycle of pain.
Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book 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