Glimpses of Tara : Film History Buffs Honor the Living Heroes of ‘GWTW’ After 50 Years

Times Staff Writer

Cassidy Brooks is still too young to fully appreciate “Gone With the Wind,” or the acting of Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.

But she knows enough to give Rand Brooks--who played Scarlett O’Hara’s first husband--a rave review for his performance.

“The movie is long and if you don’t understand it, it’s kind of boring,” said Cassidy, 11, of Culver City. “My favorite parts are when grandpa comes on.”

Three generations of the Brooks family, along with about 600 other people, spent Sunday afternoon at Culver City Studios to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s famed “Story of the Old South.”


The Culver City Historical Society used the motion picture’s golden anniversary as an opportunity to raise funds for a museum of movie memorabilia and to remind people that the city’s slogan--"The Heart of Screenland"--is backed up by 75 years of film making.

“The people and studios of Culver City were not given credit for being here,” said Joy Jacobs, a society member.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said all of its productions came out of “Hollywood” until the 1970s when it fessed up to residing in Culver City.

The David O. Selznick production of “Gone With the Wind” was filmed at Culver City Studios in 1939 and visitors to the studio Sunday got glimpses of unpublished production photos, screenplays, props and dressing rooms associated with the film.


Hard core Tara fans milled through the studio grounds looking for actors to sign autographs and had their pictures taken with Gable look-alikes.

“I had a very small part, but you can see how people still look up to anybody who had anything to do with the movie,” said Frank (Junior) Coughlan, who portrayed a soldier in the film. “Anyone in this movie has become something of a cult hero.”

Coughlan, 73, had one line: “Put me down. Put me down. Damn you, I can walk,” which was taken out of every version but the premiere.

“They cut me out because I said ‘damn’ an hour and a half before Clark Gable did,” said Coughlan, of Los Alamitos. “Back then, that was a big deal.”


Fifty years ago, skeptics said a movie based on Mitchell’s 1,000-plus-page novel would flop and that financiers would burn as badly as Atlanta did in the epic story.

“Half the people thought ‘Gone With the Wind’ would not be successful,” recalled Brooks, now 70. “The other half thought it would be a big hit. I was just happy to be working.”

Patrick Curtis, 50, played Beau, the infant son of Melanie Hamilton and Ashley Wilkes, portrayed by Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard.

He got the part because his parents worked in the movie industry and knew two of the men who directed the picture (there were several).


“My mother was a friend of (director) George Cukor’s and when he was replaced, my father was an even better friend of Victor Fleming,” said Curtis, now a film producer.

Because he was less than a year old when the film was made, Curtis doesn’t remember a thing about the production. But fans still ask, anyway.

“In 10 or 15 years, I may be the only one around,” he said.