On Saturday, May 6, 1939, Sam Wood directed Vivien Leigh in “Scarlett’s Return to Tara.” Realizing that her mother is dead, Scarlett screams her shock and grief and collapses at Ellen O’Hara’s bier. A parallel to this heartbreaking scene occurred in Margaret Mitchell’s life.
In 1919, when Margaret was a student at Smith College in Massachusetts, the Spanish flu pandemic was killing millions. Like Ellen O’Hara who nursed typhoid victims and then contracted the disease, Margaret’s mother May Belle nursed influenza victims and then developed the illness, too. When pneumonia complicated Mrs. Mitchell’s condition, Margaret received a telegram from her father, insisting that she return home immediately. Like Scarlett who arrived at Tara one day too late, Margaret arrived in Atlanta the day after her mother had died.
Writers write what they know. We channel memories and emotions into stories that we hope will touch the hearts of our readers. Margaret Mitchell did that so well in her novel, as did David O. Selznick in his magnificent film. That’s why the depiction of Scarlett’s grief at losing her mother is such a powerful moment in the film for me.
I view Ellen O’Hara’s death as a pivotal moment in Scarlett’s life. What do you think and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Source: The Complete GWTW Trivia Book, second edition, 2014
2023 Twin Year: The 2023 calendar matches the days of the 1939, making 2023 a twin year to 1939. That’s the premise of Pauline’s new book Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day. In that book, she chronicles the production, premieres and reception of GWTW from January 1, 1939 to December 31, 1939. Fans will love following the drama and intrigue of GWTW’s production on each event’s exact day and date.
Blogger Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day, The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book, and an expert on the film and its history. Follow Pauline on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Request a personally inscribed bookplate by sending a request to PaulineBartel@cs.com. Visit her Amazon.com Author Page and leave a review telling other GWTW fans why you love Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day.