Scarlett O’Hara screen test
Turner Classic Movies is rerunning the original Gone with the Wind tonight, all four hours of it. They ran a documentary first about the making of the 1939 classic.
David O. Selznick, the producer, spent two years and a ton of money searching for the right woman to play Scarlett O’Hara.
More than 1,000 actresses, famous and unknown, were interviewed or tested for the most important role in Hollywood history.
The part finally went to a newcomer from England who had been a ‘dark horse’ in the running.
Vivien Leigh won over Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Paulette Goddard (the runner-up), Joan Bennett, Jean Arthur, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Lana Turner and Susan Hayward.
There was practically no testing for the role of Rhett Butler. American movie-goers, in a poll taken at the time, had overwhelmingly voted for Clark Gable, the King of Hollywood.
The movie went on to win eight Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Director (Victor Fleming), Screenplay (Sidney Howard), Color Cinematography, Art Direction and Editing.
The screen tests for Scarlett ranged from funny to bad; here also are tests for the parts of Melanie and Ashley Wilkes.
Anatomy of a screen test
Tap bottom right for full screen