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Will public donations save the 'Gone with the Wind' gowns?

August 12, 2010 | 10:08 am

GreenIt seems unthinkable that the costumes from one of Hollywood's most legendary films, "Gone with the Wind," aren't displayed securely at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or some other venerable house of history.

But alas, the key costumes worn by actress Vivien Leigh as the tempestuous Scarlett O'Hara in that 1939 opus are actually in peril.

The famous green "curtain dress," among others, have been languishing for years in a back room of the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at the University of Texas at Austin -- lacking the funds to be restored to exhibition-ready condition.

But now the center has launched a public initiative to raise $30,000 to restore and preserve five original costumes from the film.

The dresses were part of the collection of David O. Selznick, a well-known Hollywood producer in the 1930s and 1940s, which included over 5,000 boxes of Hollywood memorabilia. 

Red All five sweeping gowns -- most of which are currently too fragile to be exhibited -- were worn by Leigh.

There's the green curtain dress, which O'Hara made to fool Rhett Butler into thinking she was still well-off after the war; the green velvet dressing gown; the burgundy ball gown; the blue velvet peignoir and the wedding dress she wore when she married Charles Hamilton to spite her true love, Ashley Wilkes.

Donations, which can be made online, will allow for the restoration of the original dresses and the purchase of protective housing and custom-fitted mannequins to allow for proper exhibition.

The center hopes to display the costumes in 2014 as part of an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of "Gone With The Wind," and to be able to loan the dresses to museums internationally.

-- Emili Vesilind

Photos: From top: The green curtain dress and burgundy party dress worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With The Wind." Credit: The Harry Ransom Center