2011 is the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Sally Tippett Rains is available for speaking engagements and she can add an element of Civil War history or Movie history to your event. Rains can speak about any aspect of Gone With the Wind, either in regular clothes or dressed in a hoop skirt to enhance your gathering.
To book rains, contact:: info@GWTWbook.com
The Making of a Masterpiece, The True Story of Margaret Mitchell's Classic Novel Gone With The Wind contains the exclusive Civil War history behind Margaret Mitchell's story. Rains had access to a scrapbook from Mitchell's family which contains pictures from the 1800's as well as stories from Mitchell's Civil War ancestors. Some of these stories are very similar to stories in Gone With The Wind.
For more information: info@GWTWbook.com
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Doc Holliday Connection To Gone With The Wind
Doc Holliday's life story is intertwined in Margaret Mitchell's. His cousin Mattie Holliday, who was a second cousin to Mitchell also played a significant role in Mitchell's life. She was born in 1839, but lived until 1939—just after Gone With The Wind hit the big screen. Since Margaret Mitchell was born in 1900 and died in 1949, she had many years with this cousin who was in the same generation as her great-aunts. They all saw each other at the Fitzgerald homestead. Some say Mattie had a romantic relationship with her cousin, John Henry Holliday (1851- 1887), who would later move out West and pick up the nickname, "Doc."
Although Mitchell never knew Doc Holliday as he died three years before she was born, she grew up hearing his tale because he was in her family tree and the famous gunfight was just six years before his death.
A little over a year after the famous Gunfight at OK Corral in October 1881, Mattie went into the convent and changed her name to Sister Mary Melanie. Sister Melanie, as she was called, worked at St. Josephs Hospital in Atlanta, where Mitchell spent many nights. Mitchell was always getting sick or sustaining some sort of injury and when she went to the hospital, there would be her cousin, Sr. Melanie.
During the Civil War, Sr. Melanie had spent time at Rural Home, the plantation owned by Mitchell's great-grandparents. She was the same age as Mitchell's great-aunts. When Sr. Melanie grew older and became blind, Mitchell would go visit her on the way home from grocery shopping every week. This has been confirmed by two independent people, one a relative of both Holliday and Mitchell. Margaret, a lover of history, listened to the older woman's stories about her childhood, but a lot of them she already knew from her own elderly aunts.
Margaret told Sister Melanie about the book she was writing.
"Is it okay if I name a character after you?" Margaret asked.
"Only if she is a good person," Sister Melanie was reported to have said.
Read The Making Of A Masterpiece to find out how the character Melanie in Gone With The Wind might have been inspired by the young girl who had a special relationship with Doc Holliday.
Belle Watling's Name Was Just Four Letters Away From
The Famous Lexington Madam, Belle Brezing
In Lexington, KY, in the early 1900's there was a magnificent brothel, run by a woman named Belle Brezing. Go to a senior citizen facility there and you will find people who remember her. She was famous for having the finest brothel in town. She catered to the horse racing clientele.
Brezing, who rode around in the finest carriages and wore the most expensive designer clothing which she bought on lavish shopping trips to New York, was financed by a benefactor, said to have been William M. Singerly, a wealthy Democrat from Philadelphia who had run for governor of Pennsylvania in 1894. In Gone With The Wind, Scarlett O'Hara wondered where Belle Watling got the money to run such a fancy establishment, and it was apparent her benefactor was Rhett Butler. In 1936 when Gone With The Wind came out, Mitchell was asked if any of her characters were based on real people and she clammed up. On the rare occasions she did speak about it she denied any characters were based on real people.
The topic of the Belle Brezing/Watling connection would come up because her husband, John Marsh was from Kentucky and in fact lived in Lexington during the time Brezing was running her "bawdy house." To get the whole story based on people who were in the know, as well as genealogical research, read The Making Of A Masterpiece.
"Margaret Mitchell was apparently afraid she might be sued for libel if she admitted publicly that Belle Watling's character was based on Belle Brezing," said James Kemper Millard, CTA President and CEO of the Lexington History Museum. "Buddy Thompson's book asserts she admitted to friends the true basis for her character."
The Lexington History Museum contains information on Belle Brezing, including the book Madam Belle Brezing by author Buddy Thompson. Kemper offers insight to the Belle Brezing story.
In her research for The Making Of A Masterpiece, Sally Tippett Rains studied archived newspaper articles from the 1910's- 1920's which contained a story that was very similar to one that appeared in Gone With The Wind. She also found the sons of a musician who performed at Belle Brezing's house on Megowan Street in Lexington, and a woman whose brother delivered Western Union Telegrams to her house.
Actors Who Were In Gone With The Wind
Seventy years have passed since Gone With The Wind made its first debut in Atlanta, Georgia. Most of the people involved in the movie have died. Think about it, if someone were over 20 years at that time they would be over 70 today. The main actors, the producer, director, scriptwriter, and many others are gone, but there are still some actors alive who remember the production.
Six of the actors were interviewed for The Making Of A Masterpiece. Ann Rutherford, who played Careen, Scarlett O'Hara's little sister was in her late teens during the filming. She was interviewed for the book and also for the television show which would come later, based on the book. Rutherford at the time of the interviews was a vibrant person, still traveling to Gone With The Wind events. She's full of stories and fans love meeting her.
Greg Giese, shown above with author, Sally Tippett Rains, was the youngest actor in the movie. He almost didn't make it in the movie and that's explained in the book. Rains was surprised to find that Giese lived across the river from her. She could not locate him during her research but just as it was time to turn the book in, Rains was informed that Giese had recently moved from California back to his native home town of Belleville, Illinois.
The other actors interviewed for the book are Fred Crane (who passed away a month after being interviewed), Cammie King, Mickey Kuhn, and Patrick Curtis. Kuhn and Curtis played Beau Wilkes (son of Ashley and Melanie) at different ages; Cammie played Bonnie Blue Butler (daughter of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler) and Crane was Brent Tarleton.