Golden age actress to speak at Kent

Allison Smith

‘Gone With the Wind’ star here tonight

In 1939, Ann Rutherford had just finished reading “Gone With the Wind” for the second time when she got a phone call from Louis B. Mayer. He wanted to tell her his son-in-law was looking to cast her in a movie, but Mayer was uncertain about it because it was a small part.

When Rutherford inquired to what the movie was, Mayer told her it was something to do with slaves and the Civil War. She said she knew instantly that it was “Gone With the Wind.”

“If anyone had told me in 1939 that 70 years later I would still be talking about ‘Gone With the Wind,’ I’d have myself put away I suppose,” Rutherford said. “It has become an entity unto itself.”

The Kent State University Museum is presenting “Tales of Hollywood’s Golden Age,” in which Rutherford will be speaking. The event will take place in Rockwell Hall Atrium.

Rutherford was under contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and to be a part of a movie under another company, she had to be “borrowed.” Mayer said the role she would be playing was a nothing part and she shouldn’t do it.

“Well, of course I burst out crying,” Rutherford said, “which was not my custom, but I was horrified. That I could be part of that wonderful book, I wasn’t even thinking of it in terms of a movie. I just wanted to see who else the other people in the book were.”

Rutherford said Mayer told her to stop crying and drive over to the studio that was producing it. He said he’d call the producer to see if they couldn’t make the part larger.

Rutherford played Carreen O’Hara, one of Scarlett O’Hara’s younger sisters. Another notable role was in the Academy Award-winning Andy Hardy film series in which she played Polly Benedict 12 times.

Rutherford said her favorite films she worked on, besides “Gone With the Wind,” were “Pride and Prejudice” and “Orchestra Wives,” where she got to work with Big Band music.

Rutherford said she retired from acting in 1973, but she has spent most of her free time traveling around the world to speak about “Gone With the Wind.”

Contact news correspondent Allison Smith at [email protected].