Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Doll-A-Day 64: Oscar Week:Vivian Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara

  Today's doll is a bit of a cheat: she's not actually my doll. She's Ivy's. I hope to get one in the future though, and I did buy this one. Does that count? Besides, I did a Frank Sinatra recently, and I have put my Casablanca dolls away in such a good place I can't locate them!That leaves me a little short to finish out the week. So...
  Anyway, today's doll is Mattel's Timeless Treasures Scarlet O'Hara doll from 2001.

  The Scarlet doll is wearing a recreation of the 'Barbecue dress' from the early part of the movie 



  The dress is a pretty fair duplicate of the real dress.
   Unlike the earlier Scarlet dolls by Mattel, this one doesn't have a Barbie head. Mattel made a head mold in the image of actress Vivian Leigh, who played Scarlet in the classic 1939 movie.







  1939 is known as THE year for movies.So many classic movies were released that year, including Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights,Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dark Victory, Stagecoach, and Gunga Din. Gone With the Wind, in spite of this stiff competition , won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year.

 The film was  based on the best selling book by Margaret Mitchell.Incidentally, Gone With the Wind was the only novel Mitchell ever wrote.
   The film won 8 of the 13 Oscars it was nominated for, plus two honorary Oscars for Technical Achievement and use of colour.Vivian Leigh won Best Actress.

Vivian Leigh with her Oscar for Gone With the Wind.
Both Olivia de Havilland, as Melanie, and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy were nominated for Best Supporting Actress, along with Geraldine Fitzgerald for Wuthering Heights,Edna May Oliver for Drums Along the Mohawk, and Maria Ouspenskaya, (Perhaps   best known today as the old gypsy woman in The Wolfman.) for Love Affair, (The original version of An Affair to Remember). With her win, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

A proud Hattie McDaniel with her plaque Oscar, which was the type of Oscar given to Best Supporting actors in her day.
  Unfortunately, there was still enough racism in the room that at the awards ceremony Hattie and her escort were required to sit in the back of the room, at a separate table from the rest of the cast.
  It would be 10 more years before the next African American nominee, Best Supporting Actress winner Ethel Waters, for Pinky.
  Upon her death Hattie's possessions were sold to pay off the Internal Revenue. Her Oscar was listed as "no value" and was donated, as her will instructed, to Howard University.Sadly, the plaque disappeared in the 1960's and Howard University has no idea what ever happened to Hattie's Oscar.
  Many people criticized Hattie McDaniel for her frequent portrayal of  maids. Her answer to the criticism was, "I'd rather play a maid than be one." The choice of roles for her were undoubtedly pretty limited, so playing a maid was one of few options open to her.In any case,Hattie's maids were always strong characters who always said what they thought and never took any flack from anybody, including her employers.
  I always considered Gone With the Wind to be a bit over rated. It's a good movie, with good performances, but so are a lot of others. The character of Scarlet is an absolutely awful human being. I'm also uncomfortable with the way the movie leans toward the confederate side. But, seen as the story of how change and war affect the characters and their lives, plus the performances and the beautiful sets and costumes seen in the early Technicolour,the movie is still entertaining.  

Vivian Leigh is one of the actresses I always said I would trade looks with any day. She was beautiful.
Vivian Leigh in Gone With the Wind.

The other is Hedy Lamarr. I think she was even more beautiful, and I always wanted to look like her.
Hedy Lamarr
  Vivian Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley, in Darjeeling, British India in 1913. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, but did not finish her schooling there, as she left when she got married. Several years later she divorced, and married Laurence Olivier in 1940.
  Prior to the movie being made she had read Gone With the Wind, and had asked her agent to suggest her for the role of Scarlet. At first there was some worry that she was 'too British', but agent Myron Selznick eventually changed his mind.There had been such problems deciding on a "Scarlet" that time was running out.Filming had had to be started, using a double who covered her face, in the Scarlet scenes of the burning of Atlanta.In spite of the legend that tells of producer David O. Selznick being surprised by his brother Myron suddenly producing Leigh on the GWTW set during the 'burning of Atlanta' scenes,David had actually been considering Leigh, and the meeting with her on the set that night had been arranged.
  Margaret Mitchell's first choice for Scarlet had been Miriam Hopkins, born in Georgia and raised in Alabama, whom she said could portray Scarlet as she had been written in the novel.

Bette Davis (left) and Miriam Hopkins in "Old Maid". In real life the two were bitter rivals who hated each other.
Hopkins was never really in the running though, She was in her mid thirties and considered too old. Bette Davis was a favourite in the beginning, in spite of being under contract to another studio (Warner Brothers. Ironically, today Warner Brothers owns the MGM catalog, including Gone With the Wind.)When she didn't win the role of Scarlet she was cast the next year in a very similar role as a Southern Belle with attitude in "Jezabel", for which she won her second Best Actress Oscar.
  The possible actresses were narrowed down again and again. Paulette Goddard did several screen tests and very nearly had the role.
Paulette Goddard in one of her Technicolor screen tests for the role of Scarlet.
  In the end of course, Vivian Leigh was cast and Scarlett became one of her two her most well known roles.(The other being Blanche Dubois in "A Streetcar Named Desire".)
Tomorrow we'll see another Oscar winner.

2 comments:

  1. The doll is beautiful, is the most lookalike to Vivien Leigh, that I've ever seen. The details like the coral string, the hat and the ornaments of the barbecue dress at Twelve Oaks are sensational.
    About who is more beautiful? Hedy Lamarr or Vivien Leigh, I can't hardly say, undoubtly Hedy is a gorgeous beauty, perfection is the word that properly describes her, especially in black and white pictures. Vivien has a more delicate and sensitive kind of beauty and she looked spectacular in color, with those wonderful and expressive blue-green eyes and that perfect complexion. Hedy is a very competent actress, but Vivien is marvelous with a great sensibility to project a depth of feelings that other could only hint and a mystique that I've only seen in Garbo.I adore Lamarr and Leigh and the two are my great favorites. I write of them in present time because they are inmortal, like the characters who brought to life, and Scarlett and Myra or Gaby and Delilah would live in my memories and in my heart forever. Congratulations for the blog.

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  2. I agree, this doll is a much better representation of Vivian Leigh than the more expensive doll like World and Tonner. Vivin Leigh had a sweeter look than Hedy Lamarr, (In spite of being nasty old Scarlett!)Hedy was more exotic looking. Still, I'm not picky. I'll trade faces with either...

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