Fragment #16: Hedda Hopper on the Casting of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind

[A lengthy search for the lead role in the adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s blockbuster novel ended on Christmas Day 1938. Over 100 American actresses were considered for the part of Scarlett O’Hara, many suggested to producer David O’Selznick by submissions from the public, but the final shortlist of Paulette Goddard, Joan Bennette, and Jean Arthur were beaten out by Leigh, who had recently moved to the USA to be with Laurence Oliver while he made Wuthering Heights: they shared an agent in Myron Selznick, David’s brother. Following the casting, the columnist Hedda Hopper responded furiously to the idea of an English actress in a quintessentially American role. She later regretted this hasty judgement, but her prediction that American audiences would boycott the film is quite spectacularly wide of the mark.]

[Press cutting from The LA Times.]

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