IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Dame Olivia de Havilland

The last of the truly great artists from Hollywood’s Golden Era has left the set for her dressing room, the final, “and that’s a wrap” has been called out.

1968, Elwood Theatre on Main Street, Elwood, Indiana.

GONE WITH THE WIND.

Mother and Grandma Donna had planned to see the re-release that began its tour in 1967 and at the last minute had a babysitter cancellation. Mother packed my pillow and a blanket for when I would fall asleep.

Even at age four, I only needed approximately five hours of sleep which Mother did not force, despite the writings of Dr. Spock. I often watched THE TONIGHT SHOW with Johnny Carson; I remember Tiny Tim marrying Miss Vicki.

As the closing credits scrolled down, Mother said I was still sitting up on my knees, long past midnight, conducting Max Steiner’s brilliant score.

When we got home, I went to the piano and played the melodies of two partial motives, “Tara’s Theme” and “Melanie’s Theme.” According to Mother, I referred to it as “that sweet lady’s song.”

In December 1975, I purchased the paperback copy of GWTW that is on the bookshelf next to my bed. I began reading the book on the plane to Florida to visit my Aunt Joyce and cousins, Kim and Debbie.

That following December, I purchased a 1974 LP/album, Charles Gerhardt & The London Symphony Orchestra, GONE WITH THE WIND at Elwood’s T-Way store. I couldn’t stop listening to the music. I taught myself all the character themes beautifully crafted by Austrian born Mr. Steiner, the master composer of many legendary motion pictures.

As the years moved on, only a handful of GWTW’s cast mates were living: Olivia de Havilland (Melanie), Butterfly McQueen (Prissy), Fred Crane (Tarlton twin), Ann Rutherford (Careen O’Hara), Barbara O’Neill (Ellen O’Hara), Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O’Hara), Cammie King (Bonnie Blue Butler), Mickey Kuhn (Beau Wilkes), and a number of extras.

I was overly fascinated with the fact that my directing mentor, Joshua Logan, has been married to Scarlett’s screen mother, actress Barbara O’Neill. I’m Kevin Bacon estimates, I was “that” close.

My love for the book, movie, and movie artifacts continue with me to this day.

As the cast members passed away, I followed Olivia de Havilland, closely, and became more acquainted with her great body of work.

Impressive.

Powerful.

104 years and twenty-two days.

Even more impressive.

Rest in performing peace, Ms. de Havilland.

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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