The casting for Gone With The Wind is legend with David O Selznick finally settling on a complete unknown poised in front of the burning embers of Atlanta. Vivienne Leigh was perfect. Delicate yet fiercely determined, gentle yet defiantly steadfast, coquettish yet devioulsy cunning. She had all the attributes of the fiery Southern Belle Selznick had been searching for. He knew, from the moment he saw her, that he had found his Scarlett. What a search it had been too. Every actress in Hollywood wanted that role including Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Catherine Hepburn, and even Hedy Lamarr. The main contender for the role was none of these however and Paulette Goddard had become the front runner. Goddard was married to Charlie Chaplin and had made quite an impression in her first film with him ‘Modern Times’. She was gamine and feisty and her screen test for ScarletPrior to Goddard many others had been considered. Some never heard of before or since outside Hollywood circles. Selznick was determined to use a virtual unknown because he did not want audiences to be able to compare Scarlett with any other character or star seen on film. He considered Ellen Drew, Anita Louise, Halia Stoddard who was predominantly a stage actress, Dianna Barrymore , daughter of John Barrymore and Margaret Tallichet. Who were all these wanna be Scarlet’s well may you ask? Turns out they were all quite well known in their day by those that mattered in Tinsel Town. Many were given other Southern Belle rolls to compensate for the loss of Scarlett. Bette Davis made ‘Jezebel’ with Henry Fonda in which like Scarlett Oharra she wears red to the ball in defiance of etiquette and plays hard to get with the man she truly loves.
Paulette Goddard much later starred in’ The Sins Of Jezebel’. It stands to reason as the character of Scarlett , who steals hearts only to disguard them when the time suits her, is actually loosley based on the Jezebel of the bible. Like the biblical Jezebel Scarlett loves to dress in all her finery and makes sure she is fully made up before facing up to whatever obstacle stands in her way. Defiant to the last.
©Hybiscus Bloom 10/1/2015.