‘Gone with the Wind’ premiered 75 years ago today in Atlanta – here’s what the event was like

AP Photo
AP Photo

On Dec. 15, 1939, the Hollywood elite descended on Atlanta to attend a premiere for a movie that would soon become legendary in the film world.

“Gone with the Wind” was first screened 75 years ago Monday – the classic film set in the Antebellum South – at the Loew’s Grand Theatre in downtown Atlanta. And while the film featured many black actors, none of them were allowed to attend the event, according to recent findings by Emory University film studies professor Matthew Bernstein.

Not even Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy and won the first ever Academy Award for a black actor due to her role in the film, was invited to the premiere, which irritated the film’s director, David O. Selznick, according to the Associated Press.

(Also read: Why I still haven’t given up on the 2014 Atlanta Falcons)

None of the film’s black actors were included in the promotional program for the Atlanta screening, the report added. However, McDaniel was allowed to attend the Los Angeles premiere.

But if you’re looking for one of the most fascinating pieces of trivia from events leading up to the big premiere 75 years ago, Bernstein unveiled it during his research. At a charity ball for the film, in front of a mock-up of Tara singing with the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir, stood a little boy dressed as a slave as part of the performing group for the event.

The boy’s name was Martin Luther King Jr.

CNN acquired rare color home video footage of the movie premiere, which you can watch here, from the Atlanta History Center.

The Loew’s Grand Theatre was damaged by a fire in 1978 and fell victim to the wrecking ball later that year, according to Cinema Treasures.

“Gone with the Wind” is frequently regarded as one of the 10 best movies ever made, both in online countdowns and elsewhere.

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