'Gone With The Wind' details remain with us at History Center

History center showcases 'Gone With the Wind' costumes, moments

You don't have to be a movie buff to enjoy — and even learn from — the "Gone With the Wind: Reel to Real" exhibit currently at the Orange County Regional History Center.

The display puts visitors in two distinct mind-sets, one in the Civil War, then a second in the 1930s and early '40s, when the film was produced and shown to eager crowds in Central Florida and around the world.

The centerpiece of the exhibit includes costumes from the film that have been collected over the years by James Tumblin, former head of the Universal Studios make-up department. "Reel to Real" also includes relics, props and paraphernalia associated with the movie, its actors and studio executives.

Here are some tidbits I noticed while browsing:

•The costumes in "Reel to Real" reaffirm what we've seen in other Hollywood-based displays: Actors are from a tiny race of people.

•Push a button to shine a spotlight briefly on individual outfits. At first, I thought this was silly, but I came to appreciate that sewing details and colors were more evident with more illumination.

•I learned a word: Stomacher. It's a decorative piece associated with a bodice, back in the Civil War days. Scarlett wore one. And, apparently, men did, too, further back in the day.

•The exhibit has a lot of framed artwork, including vibrant storyboard illustrations and costume sketches by designer Walter Plunkett.

•Personal correspondence on display includes a typewritten letter from Butterfly McQueen (who played Prissy) to producer David O. Selznick. She wants to know if he liked her performance in the film. (He did.) Her return address: a YMCA in New York City.

•Among the other paper goods: The record of payment ($95) to Greg Giese, who as a infant played two newborn babies in "Gone With the Wind." Giese worked on the set for three days.

•Framed amid several movie posters in several languages is a large seating diagram for the Atlanta premiere of the film. The meaning behind much of the penciled-in names escaped me, although I did notice the Associated Press — on the next-to-last row of the ground floor.

•You can't miss two Oscars near the entrance. One is the Academy Award won by Vivien Leigh for her role as Scarlett. Tumblin purchased the trophy auction for $510,000.

•Alternatives considered for Rhett's "Frankly, my dear Scarlett," line: "I don't give a hoot," "It has become of no concern to me" and "My indifference is boundless."

•One corner of the history center's display reminds visitors that when the film was shown in Orlando, movie houses were segregated. More than 22,000 whites watched the film at the Grand Theater on Pine Street in the first 13 days. Months later, African-Americans could watch at the Lincoln Theater at the intersection of Church and Division streets.

•But, according to newspaper ads, Orlando had a case of Scarlett fever. The Fort Gatlin restaurant on North Orange Avenue — mere steps from the current Orange County Courthouse — served up a "Gone With the Wind" supper, which included one-half of a smother chicken served on top of a baked Virginia ham. It was 75 cents.

dbevil@tribune.com or 407-420-5477

'Gone With the Wind: Reel to Real'

Where: Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E. Central Blvd., Orlando

When: The exhibit is here through Nov. 30. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: $15 ($12 for ages 5-12).

Phone: 407-836-8500

Online: thehistorycenter.org

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