Many Georgians are mourning last week's passing of 94-year-old Ann Rutherford, who played Scarlett's little sister Carreen O'Hara in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind.
Last summer, for the 75th anniversary of the publication of Margaret Mitchell's book, Marietta's Gone With the Wind Museum hosted many events, including a film tribute of Rutherford.
She was in attendance as she has been for many of the museum's annual events every year since 2007—except for this May due to her declining health from heart problems.
"We were very saddened to hear that Ann Rutherford has passed away," said Connie Sutherland, the museum's director. "She was a great actress, a wonderful storyteller and a great friend to this museum. She will be missed."
Besides Gone With the Wind, Rutherford shared top billing with Gene Autry, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney in the Andy Hardy films (as Polly Benedict); Glenn Miller in Orchestra Wives; Sir Laurence Olivier in Pride and Prejudice; Danny Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; Errol Flynn in Adventures of Don Juan; and Red Skelton in a series of MGM Whistling mystery comedies.
Rutherford was also the "Spirit of Christmas Past" in the 1938 movie A Christmas Carol. In all, she was in nearly 60 films.
A day-long tribute with showings of Rutherford's films may be seen on July 3 on Turner Classic Movies.
In a YouTube video interview with Adam Taxin on the day after Rutherford's passing (see attached), Sutherland remembered how Rutherford called her on a weekend to tell her she must write down a wonderful recipe she had found for peanut butter soup.
"At a 2009 screening in Marietta to mark the 70th anniversary of the movie that she called The Wind, Ann employed that phrase she had often used to describe how the film influenced her life: 'That "nothing part" turned my golden years into platinum,'" Sutherland said.
When discussing Rutherford participating in the museum's annual Gone With the Wind events, Sutherland recalled the actress saying: "'You have made my golden years platinum.'
"She loved the fans and stayed until the very last person had left the building. Vibrant, outgoing, active—she was that fond of the Windies."
Windies are a group of about 150 avid fans of the book and film. One of them, Faye Sorrow of Powder Springs, said she was concerned that Rutherford appeared to be in declining health last summer at her last museum event.
"I will forever miss my dear friend Ann," Sorrow said. "She was such a beautiful person, and she will be missed dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family."
Windies consider the Gone With the Wind actors to be “like their family,” Sorrow said. “We love those people.”
Rutherford would always wear butterfly brooches with "bright colors and scarves and glasses with rhinestones," Sorrow said.
Rutherford was especially dear to Dr. Chris Sullivan of Ohio, a Windie who knew her well. On display at the Marietta museum is much of Sullivan's collection, including a section devoted to Rutherford.
Those items include her personal letters to Sullivan, a set of china given to her by the studio of David O. Selznick, and her personal locket that she wore in Gone With the Wind and many of her other movies.
Calling her "one of our dear friends," Gone With the Wind actor Mickey Kuhn, who portrayed 6-year-old Beau, the son of Ashley and Melanie Wilkes, said Rutherford was a real fan of the movie.
"She watched it hundreds of times," he said.
Besides Kuhn (born Sept. 21, 1932), the surviving Gone With the Wind actors are Olivia de Havilland (born July 1, 1916, Melanie Wilkes), Alicia Rhett (born Feb. 1, 1915, India Wilkes), Mary Anderson (born April 3, 1920, Maybelle Meriweather), Rick Holt and Patrick Curtis (both Beau as a toddler) and Greg Giese (Bonnie Blue and Beau as infants).